*This post was updat­ed on May 20, 2013 to include apple cider vine­gar*


Many nat­u­rals like the “no sham­poo” or “no poo” approach to hair care (although we should note that sham­poo is not inher­ent­ly bad, and there are quite a few that do a great job of cleans­ing with­out strip­ping), and have to decide which cleans­ing alter­na­tive is best for them. We’ve com­piled a list of 5 sham­poo sub­sti­tutes that are effec­tive and rea­son­ably priced.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vine­gar (or ACV) is a per­fect cleanser, gen­tly lift­ing dirt and residue off the hair and scalp while also lay­ing down the cuti­cle for a smooth fin­ish. Just make sure that you dilute this high­ly acidic prod­uct so that it doesn’t dry out your hair. One part ACV to one part water is a good mix. 

2. Terressentials Mud Wash

This mud wash is known for cleans­ing hair with­out leav­ing the “squeaky” feel­ing, and for increas­ing the ease of detan­gling and con­di­tion post-wash. Many nat­u­rals feel that it’s the per­fect pre-styling cleanser, because it leaves the hair so soft and con­di­tioned. Plus it’s 100% organ­ic! Check out Naptural85’s review:

3. Bentonite Clay

A detox­i­fi­er that can be used on hair, skin and inter­nal­ly (to release body tox­ins), ben­tonite clay is a high­ly effec­tive cleanser. Like Ter­ressen­tials, it leaves the hair feel­ing soft and mois­tur­ized, and is known for pro­duc­ing defined curls post-wash.

4. Baking Soda

While bak­ing soda is too harsh for some nat­u­rals (because of its high pH), it’s a high­ly effec­tive clean­er for oth­ers. Check out this post weigh­ing the pros and cons of bak­ing soda to deter­mine if it’s the right option for you.

5. Beer

Yes folks, you heard it right, beer. It’s a cleanser known for also adding body to the hair, pos­si­bly because of the pro­tein it deposits. TruthinAging.com breaks it down:

As we’ve seen in the many ways it is believed beer can help your hair, there are spe­cial com­po­nents with­in beer- includ­ing B vit­a­mins, wheat pro­teins, and mal­tose sug­ars- that make drink­ing a bot­tle less use­ful than pour­ing it on your head. The com­plex car­bo­hy­drates in beer have a hydrat­ing effect, while pro­teins coat each strand, giv­ing them more strength and elas­tic­i­ty. Not only does hair appear shinier in the short term, but it also becomes stronger to avoid long-term break­age.

There are quite a few “beer sham­poos” that are for­mu­lat­ed with beer as a main ingre­di­ent. You can also make your own con­coc­tion using a home­made recipe.

6. Castile Soap

Castile is an oil-based (usu­al­ly olive or coconut) cleanser that can be used on hair, skin and even for laun­dry! How­ev­er, this cleanser is very alka­line and can leave the hair with a super squeaky feel­ing, and even agi­tate the scalp (par­tic­u­lar­ly if you suf­fer from dan­druff). If you choose to use this make sure to dilute it (1 parts soap, 3 parts water).

Ladies, do you do the “no poo” method? If yes, what prod­ucts do you use to cleanse your hair?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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72 Comments on "6 Great Shampoo Substitutes"

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Are any of these ok for a per­son with dan­druff?


Rhas­soul clay mask cleans scalp very well you can also add ingre­di­ents to treat dan­druff like EO in it too.


What about peo­ple with dan­druff (seb­hor­e­ic der­mati­itis) and locs? I fig­ure clay may not be the best for the locs.

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

Me and sham­poo are good. I use Shea Mois­ture Hair Thick­en­ing Sham­poo alter­nat­ing with the Coconut and Hibis­cus sham­poo.

I also have Ter­ressen­tials Hair Wash but won’t buy it again because it takes too much to do my hair and I only got like 4 wash­es out of the bot­tle.


I’ve tried Teressential’s Mud Wash and still use it actu­al­ly. I like that it’s not too dry­ing on the hair but I can’t rave about it like Nap­tural85 does. It didn’t clear up my whack patch or make my hair eas­i­er to manage…but it didn’t dry it out so that’s a plus!


ben­tonite clay was hor­ri­ble for my hair! i added olive oil, hon­ey, and acv to my mix and although my curls were defined the final results were hor­rif­ic. guess i will use the remain­der for facials only :(

Lillian Mae

I use the exact mix­ture with the excep­tion that I add con­di­tion­er. Try that. :)


What were the final results?

Alicia G

you’re not sup­posed to add any­thing extra to it. just water or acv, that’s prob­a­bly why it didn’t work­out the first time.


I love ben­tonite clay as a cleanser for both my face and hair. I also do ACV rins­es for my hair and scalp.


Do you mind shar­ing your rou­tine? How often do you use the ACV rinse on your face?

Lillian Mae

Dit­to! Same here! 

I use ben­tonite clay once a month and dilut­ed ACV on my scalp in the mean­time.


I’ve been using castile soap for a year. It nev­er dries out my hair and it leaves my scalp clean. Plus, it’s super cheap and comes in a 32oz bot­tle. I buy it online.

Cathey Poindexter-Taylor
Cathey Poindexter-Taylor

I agree! I use the Castile Soap Bars and I swear by them. They nev­er dry my hair out and they cleanse my scalp well!


I use dilut­ed ACV!!!


Same here! I use dilut­ed acv to clar­i­fy once a month and then cow­ash in between.


I rarely use sham­poo, I make my own rhas­soul clay wash, I use black soap dilut­ed in water and also ACV.

I’m going to have to try the beer wash though and I like the sound of hop flow­ers too.

Thanks for the ideas.


I like to use apple cider vine­gar and Africa black soap. Both are great cleansers that does leave your hair with that squeaky clean feel­ing.

Cee Mac

I’m a proud no-poo­er. :) My hair feels so much bet­ter with­out using reg. sham­poo. I use Ter­ressen­tials Laven­der Gar­den Mud Wash. It’s UH-MAY-ZING! It’s duh-truth. lol I’ve also used an ACV rinse when I didn’t have my Ter­ressen­tials.


I use Indi­an pow­ders for a mask for the scalp either mixed with aloe vera juice/ water or with a conditioner/coconut oil. Does won­ders for the scalp and hair. Leaves my hair soft and bal­anced. I use a mix­ture of Alma, Shikakai, Neem,and Brah­mi.


Fab post! Love sham­poo alter­na­tives espe­cial­ly clays. Organ­ic Rhas­soul Clay has been a long-stand­ing favourite of mine. Always leaves my hair feel­ing clean but not stripped, just soft and fluffy.

Had to stock it once we start­ed our online store at loveharlem.com


I use rhas­soul clay, black soap or Mar­seille liq­uid soap to wash my hair and so far so good some­times I use shikakai infu­sion too. I didn’t know it was a no-poo thing, I have used sham­poo about twice since I start­ed my hair jour­ney and didn’t like it so I quick­ly used oth­er things like hand­made soaps, alep soap, even co wash­ing (my scalp didn’t like it) and what I men­tionned before.

Lola Zabeth

I’ve tried and love all the exam­ples in the post. Late­ly I’ve been steep­ing dried hops flow­ers (used to make beer) in boil­ing water to make a tea, and then add a lit­tle castile soap once its cooled. My scalp has nev­er felt clean­er and fresh­er.


i enjoy read­ing your blog.

Lola Zabeth

Thx so much, mer­ry!