If you wish to stop using traditional shampoos, the question of No Poo Vs Low Poo will definitely crop up sooner or later.
For many people, disposing of traditional shampoo to follow a No Poo or Low Poo lifestyle can be a daunting prospect.
Choosing which method to use can be confusing so I looked into the pros and cons of each.
No Poo Vs Low Poo interests those wishing for a No Poo lifestyle who are undecided about the route. No Poo uses natural items like baking soda & ACV to clean hair, whereas the Low Poo approach permits shampoo with sulphates and parabens removed. Low Poo is often considered to be reducing washing frequency alongside reducing the amount of shampoo.
Most people start off by deciding that they want to reduce the number of chemicals in their lives, help the environment by reducing their reliance on chemicals and plastics, and perhaps save a few pennies at the same time.
The difficulty when you’ve arrived at this decision is to choose which way to achieve it. Which method should you start with and which will be easiest and best for your hair?
I have been looking into all things No Poo recently and have found lots of unexpected information that I’ve been able to put into one place to make your choice process that little bit more simple.
No Poo Vs Low Poo
No Poo is a coverall term that describes many different methods all under one heading. Low Poo is often also included in the No Poo umbrella as although the approach is slightly different, the motives are the same. Low Poo is often considered a transitional step between using traditional shampoos and going No Poo.
1. Low Poo
The Low Poo approach keeps with the principles of No Poo in that the main people following this method use shampoos which are produced from natural materials and do not contain sulphates, silicons, or parabens. These are chemicals that have a negative impact on the environment and indeed on our hair itself.
Controversially, there are those who consider Low Poo to also include using traditional shampoos. This involves transitioning to a No Poo approach but using them in a way that means using reducing amounts of shampoo, whilst also reducing the frequency of shampooing. This is not agreed on by all but should be considered as one Low Poo approach.
2. No Poo
This is a movement that is gaining traction and has a number of high profile followers.
Traditional shampoos are dismissed and replaced by the use of natural products.
Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar are often used to ensure clean healthy hair that has a natural shine and looks amazing.
Aloe vera extracts, tea tree oil, honey, and clay masks are also used by No Poo followers to clean and nourish their hair and soothe the scalp.
Difference Between No Poo And Low Poo
Whilst the concept of No Poo and Low Poo come from the same place, there are differences that make one option or the other more suitable for each individual.
Ultimately the decision will depend upon how much time an individual has, their hair type, and their water type etc.
If you are uncertain what the key differences between the Low Poo vs No Poo methods are, take a look at the differences outlined below:
Low Poo uses either homemade shampoo bars or easily available commercial shampoos that do not contain sulphates, silicons etc. It also involves reducing the amounts of shampoo used, and the frequency between washing being extended.
No Poo embraces the removal of all manufactured chemicals. It also goes one step further by using wholly natural ingredients such as baking soda or rye flour to clean hair, with apple cider vinegar, honey or the like to add condition and shine. Clay masks are also often used to cleanse and nourish hair.
Water Only is also a No Poo method that uses water and our body’s natural oils to keep hair looking and feeling great.
Ease Of Use
For most people, transitioning to a No Poo lifestyle can be difficult.
The Low Poo method, using readily available pre-made shampoos which are very much like their traditional counterparts but without the chemicals, is a very appealing option, especially in the short term.
The No Poo system is a more natural approach, though it can be quite a time-consuming process. This is because the individual will need to follow scritching and preening methods, and the washing process itself.
Ultimately though, No Poo wash methods ensure that your scalp and hair are free from any unwanted products.
The transition period using a Low Poo approach should be barely noticeable as the natural Low Poo shampoos have been formulated to act in a similar way to traditional shampoos.
Some Low Poo shampoos have added products (such as coconut) to give the soapy, lathering effect (saponification) that we now expect when shampooing (source 1).
Transitioning to No Poo can take between 2 weeks and 6 months depending upon your hair type, lifestyle, and how quickly your scalp reaches the optimum sebum production. However, there are many ways to disguise your hair during this period such as braiding and scarves, so as long as your motivation is strong enough this should not be a bar to going No Poo rather than just Low Poo.
What Are The Benefits Of No Poo?
There are many benefits of swapping from traditional shampoos to No Poo, and also benefits of No Poo over Low Poo.
Here are just a few benefits to consider:
1. Reduction Of Chemicals
Moving from traditional shampoos to No Poo means that you are reducing your carbon footprint, reducing the amount of plastic waste, and allowing your scalp, hair, and skin to be healthier in the long run.
With No Poo you are completely in control of everything that does and does not go into keeping your hair and scalp in top-notch condition.
With the Low Poo method, it is still the manufacturers who make the ultimate decision as to the chemicals in the shampoo.
2. Reduction Of Waste
A No Poo lifestyle removes all traditional shampoo bottles from your life, thereby reducing waste to landfills and reducing the carbon footprint from transportation.
Even using a Low Poo product means accepting a greater carbon footprint as the product needs packaging and transporting to your door. This method is potentially still contributing to land-fill depending upon the materials used in the shampoo containers.
3. New Products
The advantage of No Poo is that there are many different natural products that can be used to keep your hair clean and healthy-looking, and most of these are already in your kitchen.
This means that it’s easier to change to other options as required without having to store a huge number of different products in the bathroom, taking up space and reducing your bank balance!
When transitioning from traditional shampoos to a No Poo method the likelihood is that you will go from washing your hair every day to washing only once a week. Sometimes even less frequently depending on your hair type. This saves time every day that can be put to better use and adds up over the course of a year.
Whilst Low Poo will save time too, it will probably be less than that saved by No Poo.
What’s The Best No Poo Method?
The best No Poo method is the one that leaves your hair feeling clean and manageable and that fits into your lifestyle and beliefs.
This means that there is no method that is ‘best’ as individuals differ and so does an individuals hair. From water only to ACV and baking soda, from clay masks to honey and oil nourishing packs, each hair type will appreciate a different recipe.
The type of water that you use will also have an effect on how each type of wash works on your hair.
Some No Poo and Low Poo individuals use bottled or boiled water for the final rinse, or fit a water purification system if they live in a hard water area so that their hair can gain the full benefits of the No Poo/Low Poo lifestyle.
What Are The Benefits Of Low Poo?
For some people, Low Poo will be the preferred option when it comes to moving away from traditional shampoo to a lifestyle less burdened by chemicals.
Low Poo has significant benefits over traditional shampoos, and for some people, it fits in better with their lifestyle than a fully No Poo existence.
- Convenience: With so many Low Poo shampoos and products on the market, and being available from major, wide-spread national chain stores, going Low Poo needn’t impact upon your existing lifestyle in any way. Simply change the traditional shampoo in your trolley or on-line cart to a Low Poo alternative and carry on as normal, in the knowledge that you are improving the health of both your hair and the planet.
- Time: There are no time consuming recipes to make up, no mixing ingredients in the shower. Just swap to a pre-made bottle and continue with no big headache.
- Ease: Commercially made Low Poo shampoos make it far easier to swap from traditional to Low Poo shampoos, and the convenience of these make this choice much easier to follow than completely transitioning to No Poo.
- Environmental: With Low Poo you can still be confident that you are doing your bit for the environment.
- Hair Health: Low Poo can increase the health of your hair by reducing the chemicals that your hair and scalp have to cope with when using traditional shampoos. This allows your scalp to adjust more slowly to the withdrawal of chemicals and sulphates. Freed from continual stripping of the natural oils, your hair will be able to nourish itself and become more manageable with a wonderful natural shine.
Best Low Poo Shampoo
As the Low Poo movement increases in popularity, the availability of Low Poo shampoo products increases to fill the market.
With the increase in choice, it’s useful to know what to look for in a Low Poo shampoo.
Hair needs vary from person to person.
Just like traditional shampoos, Low Poo shampoos are made with different ingredients that work best for different hair.
Here are some examples of what the best Low Poo Shampoo would be for you, personally:
- Silicon free: Your Low Poo shampoo should be free from silicon. Silicon is found in most traditional shampoos and is used to make your hair shiny and easy to brush, whilst protecting your hair from heated styling aids. However, silicon may make your hair look healthy and shiny, it actually has very damaging long term effects and has been linked to cases of hair thinning (source 1).
- Paraben free: Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives in cosmetics and shampoos. They are harmful to the environment and the health of your scalp. If your scalp isn’t healthy, then it’s difficult to get your hair to look healthy without introducing even more chemicals to offset the effects of the first. Therefore, ensuring your shampoo (and other cosmetics) are free from parabens will help you give your hair a much healthier start (source 1).
- Sulphate free: Sulphates are used in traditional shampoos to give the rich lather that we are used to when washing our hair. A lovely creamy lather may be good in the shower, but the sulphates used to create this effect also strip the natural oils from our hair and eventually leave it dry and brittle. Sulphates also act as a scalp irritant and may be responsible for dermatitis (source 1).
- Curly Hair: Individuals with curly hair often find that moisture-rich shampoos are best to clean their hair and maintain a manageable curl. Coconut Low Poo shampoos, or those with glycerin, contain the extra nourishment that curls often need (source 1).
- Thin Hair: Rice water contains inositol which can promote growth and repair damaged follicles (source 1).
- Dry/Itchy Scalp: A dry or itchy scalp can be helped by the use of tea tree oil and/or Lemon oil, so using a Low Poo shampoo that contains this oil will be beneficial.
- Oily Hair: Tea tree oil is again beneficial for oily hair, especially if your scalp is producing too much oil due to stresses to your scalp.
Why not consider making your own Low Poo shampoo, either fresh for every wash, or make a bar that can be used multiple times.
Should I Use No Poo Or Low Poo?
The journey to a No Poo life often starts with Low Poo.
Whether you stop at Low Poo or continue to fully No Poo is very much a personal choice and will depend upon many factors.
You may feel more comfortable with Low Poo owing to the ease of use and availability of Low Poo shampoos; it will really make little difference to your normal hair care routine but will be beneficial to your hair, and to the environment.
Low Poo is perfect for those who wish to make a difference to the environment and reduce the chemicals they use, without increasing the time and effort they normally make with their hair.
No Poo works brilliantly for people who want much more control over the products that go on their hair and scalp and are motivated enough to put in the extra time in the beginning and find a way through the transition period.
Low Poo has little or no transition period, whereas a fully No Poo lifestyle can see a 2 week to 6 month transition period where your hair and scalp adjust to your no chemical approach. During this period your hair may not look as wonderful as it will once the transition period has passed. The wait is worth it, both for healthy and naturally nourished hair and for the time saved in the long run by not having to wash your hair daily with traditional shampoo.
There is no right or wrong to choosing between Low Poo and No Poo, it is very much up to the individual, and which method leaves their hair shiny, healthy, and beautiful to manage.
Low Poo Vs CO Wash
Co-washing is washing with conditioner only; making sure that it is silicon and sulphate free.
This wash option tends to prolong the transition period but potentially makes the transition period easier for those with non-porous and curly hair.
Co-washing is often used by those with curly hair because their hair type requires more nourishment to keep it in good condition.
As the number of people using a Low Poo approach increases, so does the number of products on the market that cater for differing hair types.
Dry and curly hair individuals can now easily purchase Low Poo shampoos made specifically for them which can include honey and coconut to help curly hair be more silky and manageable without weighing it down.
There is nothing to say that Low Poo cannot be used in tandem with Co-washing.
If you are finding that your hair is beginning to be noticeably dry at the ends, the a Low Poo shampoo just for these sections might be the right option. If the roots are greasy then a co-wash just at the roots will be enough to remove the excess oils (source 1).
You may have already started your No Poo journey by opting for Low Poo products in favour of traditional shampoos. At some point though the No Poo v’s Low Poo question will pop up and make you question whether you should go further, or stay using the Low Poo option.
There is no wrong or right way. If Low Poo is leaving your hair healthy-looking and well-nourished, and you are happy with the convenience, then there is no huge need to change. However, if you want to have even more control over the products that touch your scalp and hair, or want to experiment with new ingredients, then trying the No Poo method may be exactly what you and your hair needs.
The one thing you can be sure of whether you go Low Poo or No Poo is that you are doing the very best for your hair.
DIY Low Poo Shampoo
Making a Low Poo shampoo is easy! The simplest is a coconut blend using just two ingredients. DIY Low Poo means you choose the most effective ingredients for amazing hair (source 1).
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