Difference Between No Poo, Low Poo, and Co Wash

Washing your hair without using traditional shampoo is growing in popularity. This is where knowing the difference between No Poo, Low Poo, Co Wash etc. comes in.

This article will introduce you to the main differences and give you enough insight to make an informed choice to benefit your hair.

If you choose to keep your hair clean without using traditional shampoos, then the chances are that you will either use a No Poo, Low Poo, or a Co-Washing method. Each is a slightly different method, but all aim to remove harmful chemicals from your hair. The main chemicals removed are sulfates, silicones, and parabens.

Read on to discover the differences between No Poo, Low Poo, and Co-Washing, and which method could benefit your hair type the most.

Difference Between No Poo, Low Poo, Co Wash

The No Poo movement has been growing in popularity ever since the mid 20th century.

There are several reasons for this, the main one being that people noticed that traditional shampoos were actually hindering the health of their hair rather than benefiting it.

Sulfates are incredibly drying for your hair. Silicones, whilst hiding the damage, do not allow your scalp’s natural oils to penetrate and nourish your hair.

Although there are many man-made chemicals that you should try to avoid, here are the top absolute no no’s for No Poo:

  • Sulphates: Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  • Silicones: Cyclomethicone, Cetearyl Methicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Amodimethicone
  • Parabens: Butylparaben, methylparaben
  • Formaldehyde
  • Polyethylene Glycol
  • Phthalates: diisodecyl phthalate, benzylbutyl phthalate

There are many more chemicals that could be added here, but the list above gives you the main synthetic problem chemicals (source 1,2,3).

The phrase No Poo tends to be used to describe the whole range of hair washing without traditional shampoos.

However, Low Poo and Co-washing are distinct methods in their own right.

These will be looked at in more depth later, for now, the focus will be on the real meaning of No Poo.

What Is No Poo?

Giving up traditional shampoos and conditioners, and choosing to keep your hair clean and healthy using natural ingredients is No Poo.

Making your shampoo at home can be very rewarding, and can also make your hair healthier, looking as good as it possibly can.

Most No Poo’ers use products that are easily, and conveniently, already present in their pantries and gardens.

The most common ingredients they use are as follows:

  • Baking Soda (read more)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Egg (read more)
  • Banana
  • Flour (specific types)
  • Avocado (read more)
  • Honey
  • Aloe Vera
  • Soapwort

Depending upon where in the world you live, soapnuts (reetha), bentonite clay, and various tea leaves are also popular natural ingredients that can be used in homemade shampoos and rinses (source 1).

Many garden herbs can be used as rinses, and aloe vera especially can be used in multiple recipes for most hair types.

Your own hair type and needs, and taking into consideration your lifestyle, will determine which No Poo recipe will work best for you.

When using natural ingredients it is important to remember that just because they are natural, this does not make them harmless.

Overuse of any ingredient will often cause damage.

Below are some popular No Poo wash methods:

  • Baking soda: Whilst a wonderful cleanser, this can be harsh on your hair if you use too much or too frequently. Using a baking soda rinse with an apple cider vinegar rinse every 10 days or so should keep your hair clean, without doing any damage.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar does not have the same pH as your scalp and needs to be diluted. Too much vinegar can cause scalp problems and dry hair to excess.
  • Egg: Egg often provides necessary protein for your hair. It can also soften your hair and improve texture. Unfortunately, too much protein can make your hair brittle and prone to breakage.

No Poo has so many recipes and combinations of ingredients. Therefore, no matter what your hair type is you are bound to find a combination of products that bring about the best in your hair.

What Is Low Poo?

The Low Poo method is very similar to No Poo and there are a great number of conflicting ideas about what exactly Low Poo is.

The general consensus is that the following are definitely banned:

  • Sulphates
  • Silicones
  • Parabens

After that, it is a bit of a greyer area where personal choice is all you need to consider.

Those who do Low Poo often use commercially available shampoos, simply making sure that the synthetic chemicals are avoided.

The rise of the No Poo movement and a shift toward environmentally friendly products has meant that Low Poo products are readily available in most High Street and online stores.

Just like No Poo, Low Poo rejects the following aspects:

  • Sulphates: This is because they can be drying to your hair.
  • Silicones: Silicones do not allow nutrients and moisture to pass into your hair.
  • Parabens: These are widely considered to be carcinogenic.
  • Polyethylene Glycol: It is thought this is drying to your hair.

What Is A Low Poo Wash?

A Low Poo wash does not contain any of the above-prohibited ingredients.

It is made with natural ingredients and is likely to improve both the health and looks of your hair.

All hair types can benefit from Low Poo washes and rinses.

Low Poo for fine hair is not an impossibility. In fact, Low Poo is one of the best hair care methods for fine hair. This is because it does not contain any of the traditional ingredients that would normally weigh fine hair down.

Low Poo V’s No Poo

When using the Low Poo method you can choose to wash your hair as often as you like.

No Poo followers tend to leave washes as far apart as possible, but depending upon your lifestyle some followers may find this difficult.

Low Poo allows users to adhere to the No Poo principles, but in a far easier manner.

What Is Co-Wash?

Under the umbrella term of No Poo is the Co-Wash method. This is short for Co-Washing.

Washing with conditioner only is especially beneficial for those with curly hair. This is because those with curly hair tend to have dry hair which benefits from the extra moisture that conditioner can give.

Co-Washing, like the other No Poo methods, encourages the scalp to reach optimum sebum production. This allows the sebum to nourish the hair without being over-produced and making the hair look greasy.

The main pros of Co-Washing are:

  • Cleans: Conditioners contain ingredients that act as mild cleansers.
  • Frizz: As your hair is well moisturized the likelihood of frizz is reduced.
  • Improves Curls: Using a light conditioner to clean your hair will improve curl definition and will not weigh your curls down.
  • Softens: Most conditioners will leave you with silky soft, and smooth hair.

No Poo, Low Poo, and Co-Wash methods have many things in common.

Whilst there are small differences, the main idea behind all three methods is to remove synthetic chemicals from your hair care regime and enhance the health of your scalp and hair.

Best Low Poo Shampoo

The number of Low Poo shampoos on the market is growing day by day.

The best low poo shampoos are shown below:

1. Moptop Gentle Shampoo

This amazing shampoo is free from all the major chemicals found in traditional shampoos.

It is suitable for all hair types and although it is not Vegan (contains honey) it is well worth giving it a try, especially if your hair is prone to frizz.

Purchase from Amazon

2. SheaMoisture Extra NourishingShampoo

Containing mango and carrot, this shampoo has been formulated for children but is also a fab low poo clarifying shampoo that is also gentle on your tresses.

If you are in the mood for something slightly different then do not look any further!

Click to see customer reviews on Amazon

3. Innersense Shampoo

This is one of the more exclusive Low Poo shampoos and has some incredibly good reviews.

It is free from harmful chemicals and is ethically sourced.

This shampoo uses honey for reducing frizz, and coconut and rice-bran for their cleansing properties.

Buy On Amazon

How To Make Low Poo Shampoo

Read on to find virtually the easiest Low Poo shampoo recipe of all time.

Using just two ingredients your hair will be moisturized and healthy (source 1):


  • 200ml – Coconut milk
  • 100ml – Liquid Castille Soap


  1. Mix the ingredients together using a blender.
  2. Use on wet hair as you would a traditional shampoo.
  3. It takes just two minutes, so you will have plenty of time to revel in your gorgeous locks for longer!


No Poo, Low Poo, and Co Wash are all ways to keep your hair healthy and looking at its best, without using traditional shampoos that contain harmful chemicals.

Whilst they all have the same main aim, there are small differences in the approach that each method takes.

No Poo looks towards a more DIY approach, with most followers using ingredients from their kitchens and gardens.

Low Poo, has the same ethos but accepts commercially available shampoos for ease of use.

And finally, co-washing is basically washing your hair with only conditioner.

The No Poo wash method that is best for you is the one that makes the greatest difference to your hair and fits into your lifestyle the best.

Katrina Stewardson

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I've been obsessed for almost ever with discovering the best natural hair methods for my own hair. For years I longed for one website to tell me everything I needed to know about the amazing No Poo Method movement. I just couldn't find one though, so I decided to create it myself! I dearly hope this website will save all you lovely ladies (and gents!) from wasting hours scrolling the internet looking for natural hair-related information like I did.

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