How To Clean Black Hair Without A Shampoo

Avoid the drying sulphate shampoos and use natural with home cleansers for your hair

There are a number of reasons to go without shampoo for the benefit of black hair. It is very rare to find someone with both curly and oily hair as curly and kinky hair is inherently dry. Oily secretions are made by sebaceous glands on the scalp where their purpose is to lubricate the hair and prevent moisture loss. The oils travel down straight hair quite easily but in curly hair it more difficult.

Ingredients in majority of the shampoos make things worse for curly and kinky haired people. Notably Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) which is known to excessively dry out the hair and is found as the first ingredient in most shampoos. These Sulfates are the ‘lathering agent’ for the shampoo and are also commonly used in car washes and engine degreasers. In actual fact, conditioner was invented as a treatment to counter against the drying effects of the shampoo!

Lots of black people are actively using alternatives to these drying shampoos for the health of their hair. There are a few sulfate free shampoos available on the market but they tend to be a bit pricey. Natural cleansers are cheap and just as effective!

There are some excellent alternatives to shampooing outlined below:

  • Co-washing – This is simply washing your hair with conditioner only and is by and large the most popular method for ex-shampoo users. Grab your favourite bottle of conditioner and work into wet hair. Rinse throughly and repeat. The great thing about co-washing is that it gives you freedom to wash your hair as often as you like without any risk of drying out your hair. In fact many women co-wash daily!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)ACV when diluted correctly will be in the slightly acidic range on the ph scale just like your hair’s natural ph. This will not only help get rid of build up but it will also encourage your cuticles to lie flat sealing moisture into your hair.  Mix 1 teaspoon of ACV with about 4 cups of water and stream the mixture through the hair working it in lightly with your fingers. Yes, you only need one teaspoon of the vinegar! An ACV rinse is best used as a final rinse after a co-wash.
  • Cornstarch – as strange as this sounds, cornstarch works great as a ‘dry shampoo’. Technically it does not actually clense your hair but rather it absorbs excess oil in your hair which when rinsed with water will wash the oil off.

A quick note on Baking Soda – it has been touted as a natural alternative to shampoo but with it very alkaline nature, it is too harsh to be recommended even after dilution. See the article on why baking soda is bad for your hair.

About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.


  • ✔︎ Discover the truth about black hair growth
  • ✔︎ Identify tips that you can start using today
  • ✔︎ No expensive products to buy
  • ✔︎ Perfect for beginners!

  • Patrina

    I have used baking soda and it works excellent. also, if you put it on your hair before you wet it, just sprinkle it through the hair and scalp and rub it in, it will absorb all the residues of dirt and hair products. Then you rinse it out and you can repeat it. If you still desire to use a shampoo, it will cut down the amount of times you have to lather up your hair. For me, I only need to shampoo once. And as a side note, I USE ALL NATURAL ORGANIC SHAMPOOS FROM THE HEALTH FOOD STORE. NO sodium lauryl sulphates and there is a noted difference, especially since I have gone natural.

  • Luvisha

    how do you wash your hair weekly when braided with extensions

  • Takarea

    When you say “final rinse” does that mean leave it in or rinse the conditioner out your hair with the solution? I’m confused. Sorry.

  • cinnalocs

    Can ACV be used along with the oil rinsing technique and the cayenne pepper with oil? Also, will the ACV dry out my locs???

  • Giggles B

    How do you wash weekly with a sew in?