How to Go “No ‘Poo” with Easy Herbal Hair Rinses


Have you heard of the “no ‘poo” movement? It’s definitely not my favorite term, but the philosophy behind it is worth exploring. It refers to the droves of people turning away from using expensive commercial shampoos and conditioners. These products often contain harsh synthetic fragrances, sodium laureth sulfate, propylene glycol, and other creepy ingredients that come from mystery labs around the world. We trust that these products will make our hair gorgeous and drench ourselves in weird chemicals without knowing how they affect our overall health. Plus, think of the millions of plastic bottles that end up in the recycling bin, or worse, from all of the hair products we use.

But…you HAVE to use shampoo, right?


We’ve been told to “lather, rinse, and repeat” for decades now – and with dreams of healthy, shiny, flowy, bouncy perfection, we have complied. But what happens? The first day after a wash, your hair is kinda frizzy and dried out. On the second day it’s looking pretty good. By the third day it’s a crazy greasy mess again and time to shampoo. This cycle happens as your scalp desperately tries to maintain balance. Most shampoo strips your hair of sebum, which is the natural oil produced by sebaceous glands to help condition and protect each strand. When it’s completely washed away, your glands sound the alarm bells and produce even more sebum to compensate for the sudden loss of protection. Using gentle cleansers and washing less often allows your body to function the way it was meant to…


Going “no ‘poo” is a different experience for everyone, depending on your natural hair and scalp condition. I have very fine, curly hair with a normal to dry scalp, so the transition was super easy for me. I started using the Chamomile Rose rinse recipe below just once a week. My hair immediately looked so much healthier and had more body and shine. Suddenly, instead of one good hair day a week, my hair was consistently awesome with less frizz and no scalp irritation at all. I know other people with thicker or oily hair go through a not so fun “balancing” phase where the sebaceous glands continue to produce more and more sebum in anticipation of that regular shampooing. If you can stick it out, the process will eventually find homeostasis and revert back to a normal sebum production rate. This usually only takes a few weeks and is well worth the wait. Just think of all those neglected hats waiting in your closet!

Ready to try it out? These herbal hair rinses are amazing. They are so easy to make and will leave your hair feeling soft and your scalp clean and revitalized, but not stripped or dried out. Use once a week to replace your shampoo for good and allow your natural oils to condition each strand from root to tip.

Chamomile Rose Rinserosechamomile

1 ½ cups organic Chamomile tea, brewed strong

1 cup organic Rose Petal tea, brewed strong

1 tbsp baking soda

The deep golden yellow produced by the chamomile flowers makes this a wonderful choice for light colored hair or to enhance natural highlights in darker hair. My hair is dirty blond and I really notice a lightening effect like a sunny glow to my hair when I let it soak in for at least 5 minutes before rinsing out.

Rosemary Cacao RinseCacaoRosemaryRinse

1 ½ cups organic Cacao nib tea, brewed strong

1 cup organic Rosemary leaf tea, brewed strong

3 drops organic Peppermint essential oil

1 tbsp baking soda

Rosemary is a classic herb for hair health. It brings circulation to the scalp and stimulates the follicles. It is also known to enhance the richness in dark colored hair. The naturally conditioning cocoa butter fats found in cacao nibs will leave your hair feeling soft, and the chocolate colored infusion is perfect for all shades of brown hair. Peppermint oil adds an invigoratingly clean scent, and is great for oily or sensitive scalps.


Nettle Lavender Rinsenettlerinse2

2 1/2 cups organic Nettle leaf tea, brewed strong

5 drops organic Lavender essential oil

1 tbsp baking soda

Nettle is a wonderfully strengthening tonic herb for hair. Its high mineral and vitamin content nourishes all hair types. Lavender essential oil is calming and helps normalize both dry and oily scalp conditions, and its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory nature makes it a nice choice for irritated or sensitive scalps too. This formula is perfect for all hair colors and types.


Rinse Directions

- Using a covered pot, decoct your herbs for 10-15 minutes. I generally use 1/4 cup of herbs per cup of water.

- Strain out the herbs and combine your herbal infusion, essential oils, and baking soda together in a glass jar. You want the baking soda to be completely dissolved and well mixed.

- Allow to cool to body temperature.

- Pour over dry hair or soak hair in the mixture for at least 5 minutes. Massage the scalp gently using a circular motion.

- Rinse out with clean running water.

- You can follow the herbal rinse with an apple cider vinegar rinse if you’d like, which is a really popular method, but I usually skip it.

Feel free to experiment with other herb and essential oil combinations. For more information and guidance about what herbs are good for hair care, check out Naturally Healthy Hair by Mary Beth Janssen.

Enjoy your natural tresses!


41 Responses to “How to Go “No ‘Poo” with Easy Herbal Hair Rinses”

  1. avatar maria9653 says:

    do you use these rinses everyday? I have long hair fine it tangles so easy that I am a conditioner hog so what would you use in place of that?

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Maria,
      Actually, I only use the herbal rinse once a week with no other products and my hair stays soft thanks to my natural oils conditioning each strand. You can follow this up with a vinegar rinse if you’d like. Everyone’s hair is different though, so you may need to experiment. If your hair is still dry and getting tangled, you might benefit from a weekly hot oil treatment in place of conditioner, which you can learn about here:

      Hope that helps!

    • avatar Squirrel says:

      You can use the herb, Burdock. It helps with tangles and helps with dry hair, so that’s a plus!! :D

  2. avatar Deb says:

    Hi Erin,

    What about after you do your rinse? I’m assuming you don’t put any product in your hair to style it before you blow dry. My hair is straight and thin. I’m not sure I can do that…

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Deb,
      I’m pretty much just rinse and go. I let my hair air dry now, but I used to flatiron my bangs without a problem. Not sure what kind of product you use before you blow dry, but my hair has no frizzies thanks to the natural oils conditioning each strand now that I don’t shampoo. I say give it a try on the weekend and see how you like it or combine it with some other methods like a weekly hot oil treatment and vinegar rinse to find the right balance for your hair type. Hope this helps! ~Erin

  3. avatar ChrissyJee says:

    Hi Erin,
    Thanks for sharing. I would like to try these herbal rinses. I am pretty active and workout 4-5 times a week. For people like this, how many times would you recommend doing the rinse?

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Chrissy,
      I work out several times a week too and still only use the rinse once a week. However, I do “wash” my hair and scalp with just water between herbal rinses, and that works well for me. However, because we all have different hair types and oil production rates, this might be different for you. Feel free to experiment! You could also rinse with the herbal infusion tea only (no baking soda) each day and then use the full recipe (with baking soda) once a week. I hope this is helpful to you! Thanks so much. ~Erin

  4. avatar ps103 says:

    I’ve been using just baking soda followed by ACV for over a month now. These recipes look great and I can’t wait to try them. Do you recommend doing anything special or different after swimming in a pool or at the ocean?

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hello! Sadly, I haven’t been swimming since I started being “no poo” and can’t make any alternative recommendations. However, if you find that your hair gets dried out from the pool chemicals, you might want to try a hot oil treatment. You can learn more about that here: Hope that helps! Many thanks, Erin

  5. avatar KReisdorf says:

    I color my hair, and when I use baking soda it fades the color. If I use the ACV rinse after it stops the color from literally washing down the drain. Does anyone else find this happening to their hair?

  6. avatar soniats85 says:

    I have used all sorts of natural products in my hair for the last two years with no real success. I have recently been using ACV and baking soda and it has resulted in lots of itching and dandruff (not to mention my husband can’t stand the smell of the ACV). Even after all of this, I’m staying strong and will continue in my pursuit of natural hair products that will work for my hair type. I have long curly, frizzy, dry Indian hair that has never been colored. Please tell me which of the three rinses would be best for my hair type???

  7. avatar Squirrel says:

    So, do does this take the place of shampoo?

  8. avatar kat says:

    I am confused somewhat about the proportions of herbs to water in the recipe. If you use only 1 cup of water per 1/4 cup of nettles, it is difficult to get the entirety of the nettles wet. To achieve 2 and 1/2 cups of tea for the recipe, you would need 3/4 cups of dried nettle leaf. Is this correct? (I do not have a pot in which I can brew the tea, so am putting the dried herbs in a glass bowl and pouring boiling water over them, much the same way you make regular tea.)
    Do you add water to the tea after brewing to get the 2 and 1/2 cups for the recipe, or is it the full strength tea?

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Kat,
      You want 2 1/2 cups of liquid tea with the nettle strained out. So, you can boil 2 1/2 cups of water and pour that over 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of nettles (whatever you have on hand to make a strong tea), allow to infuse for a good 10 minutes, and then strain out the nettle leaf.

      I hope that makes more sense!

  9. avatar Bellagood says:

    Hi: I’ve been looking for a solution since I keep getting allergic to shampoos (bumps form even when I alternate shampoos). I’m sure there will be an adjustment period for my thin, fine, straight hair. But, I’m wondering, what do you suggest for a greying brunette (more grey than brunette) whose husband is allergic to lavender (how’s that for a conundrum!)? I don’t want to use chamomile or cacao as those colors would probably not be helpful. Thanks!!

    • avatar Erin says:

      You can use any combination of ingredients listed here. The herbs won’t really color your hair (although, the chamomile and cacao can have a slight coloring effect). Try using nettles, peppermint, rose, and/or rosemary in your rinses and see how you like it. I hope that helps! Enjoy! ~Erin

  10. avatar carole-anne says:

    Hi Erin,

    I’m a beginner to all of that, and find myself having a blast reading and trying out the receipe found on your website. Thank you so much for making all that information available and so easy to use. This is an absolutely fantastic blog. I love lavender and camomille, can I just that two different receipe and mix them together?

    Thank you very much

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Carole-Anne,
      Thank you so much for the sweet words! Happy to hear that you are experimenting and learning so much. Yes, you can definitely use any combination of the herbs in the article. They are all really lovely. Have fun and thanks again for reading! :)

  11. avatar perrierdua says:

    Hi Erin,

    I would love to try this but am hoping to make them in 1 batch (for say 6 rinses) and use them over 2 weeks or more. Can I store them in fridge? Will it still be as effective?

  12. avatar rosyred says:

    Hello, Just tried this today. So far, pretty good. I was wondering, if I wanted to make a couple batches in advance, about how long do you recommend this stuff can stay bottled? Thanks in advance!

  13. avatar Angie says:

    Hi Erin: Thanks for this article. Can you tell me what the best hair care regimen would be for me. I have chronic telogeon effluvium – widespread shedding. In the past, drinking nettle tea has made it worse. Perhaps because it speeds up thyroid function and I am already on thyroid medication. Or could be the vitamin A. I don’t know. In general almost all essential oils or shampoos for that matter make the hair come out. The only time I loose lots of hair is in the shower. I would love to be able to make something simple yet effective instead of continuing to invest in expensive shampoos that don’t really work for me. Thank you very sincerely, Angie P.S. I have oily dark hair and not too much of it. :-)

    • avatar Angie says:

      P.S. I also have a mild case of seborrhic dermatitis. Mostly shows up in the Winter and when I eat go off of my ketogenic, anti-candida diet.

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Angie,
      Unfortunately, since I am not a qualified healthcare practitioner, I am not familiar with your specific issue and can’t make any recommendations, but I would suggest a couple of great books to you! I really love Earthly Bodies Heavenly Hair by Dina Falconi as well as Naturally Healthy Hair by Mary Beth Janssen. You can find them here:

      I hope that helps!

  14. avatar T says:

    Hi there, I currently use just water weekly or twice weekly with just water. I have noticed I have s few grey/white hairs. If I use nettle rinse before I wash it, or spray it daily, would this cover any grey now, and future ones. Looking for a pregnacy and breastfeeding solutions as I know sage is probably out. Any suggestions? Many thanks

  15. avatar Steph says:

    I am using a rosehip and hibiscus tea (for red highlights) mixed with nettle tea and a bit of baking soda. The mixture smells horrilbly rancid after a few days. Is the entire bottle supposed to be used every week or is there a way to store it? The thought of putting it in the fridge and using it cold is cringe-worthy and I don’t always have extra time to heat it up each week. Any suggestions?

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Steph~Thank you for reading the blog and for sharing your experiences. How much you use will really depend on your preferences and how much hair you have. The only way I know to extend the shelf life of the tea is to refrigerate it so you might consider making just enough for one use or make it the night/day before and use at room temperature the next day. I hope this helps a bit and thanks again! ~Kori

  16. avatar Sheri says:

    Thanks for these! I read this back in May, and I’ve been doing this since. I’ve had problems with allergic reactions to shampoo since I was a teenager, so this is a real blessing.

  17. avatar Brittany says:

    Is it possible to use salt instead of baking soda? I know salt is a very good cleansing agent. I tried baking soda and acv hair rinse before and it wasn’t quite for me…it actually left a residue and my hair was hard to manage. I just didn’t have the patience to figure out the correct adjustments to the recipe for my hair. Btw, i have slightly oily hair.

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Brittany~Thank you for your question and for reading the blog. You can give salt a try and see if it works better for your hair type. Let us know how it works out for you! Thanks again ~Kori

  18. […] Rosemary – Stimulates scalp, thought to help decrease hair loss and promote growth, treats oily hair. […]

  19. avatar Kellie LeAnn Wonderly says:

    You should mention that ppl will go through a hair detox andthat their hairmaylook andbfeel may for a few weeks b4 it starts to look and feel better. don’t get discouraged though bc it is so worth it!

  20. avatar Jessica says:

    I love your beauty recipes and can’t wait to try this. I make comfrey salve for my sons eczema so I have a lot of comfrey and plantain leaves. Do you know if those would work well? Maybe they would help my itchy dry scalp? I would also like to chime in about the no poo route. I have been doing it for over a year and I love it.

  21. […] up shampoo/conditioner to less frequent washing. I’m not sure that I can go fully ‘no-poo,’ but I have managed to get to a point where I’m only washing twice a week. It seemed […]

  22. Could you leave out the baking soda entirely? I’ve read it can be damaging to our hair. I don’t want to damage my hair, but I do want to have clean hair. I’ve been using just water for a little under 2 weeks now. I’m in the transition period, with lots of sebum and teeny tiny flakes (on my black hair). Thank you!

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Kimberly~You could certainly leave the baking soda out and experiment to see if you can create a rinse that works better for your hair type. Good luck and thanks so much for reading the blog! ~Kori

  23. avatar Jeasica says:

    I really don’t like showering early in the mornings on weekdays. But I have too. Anyway, my question is… IF I MAKE MY HAIR RINSE AT NIGHT TIME AND LET IT SIT AND THEN NOT USE IT UNTIL THE MORNING, WILL THE RINSE STILL BE EFFECTIVE AND AS STRONG AS IT WOULD BE IF YOU USED IT THE DAY THAT YOU MADE IT?? Or should I just wake up extra early and make a fresh batch :(… Lol!!! Thanks

    • avatar Erin says:

      Hi Jeasica,
      You can definitely make your herbal rinse the night before and it will be just as effective! You can even make a batch on Sunday night, keep it in the fridge, and warm it up when you need it – although, I wouldn’t keep it longer than 3 to 5 days, especially without baking soda and essential oils. Herbal infusions tend to get funky after several days. I hope that helps! ~Erin

  24. […] DIY Herbal Hair Rinses from Mountain Rose Blog […]

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    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
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