What Does Low Poo Mean?

There are so many different methods under the No Poo umbrella that understanding what each one means, and which ingredients are allowed, can be quite difficult.

So what does Low Poo mean?

The No Poo method is an umbrella term for several methods of keeping your hair clean and healthy. Low Poo still uses shampoo to wash hair but avoids using shampoos with sulphates, silicons, and parabens. Sebum only, water only, No-Poo, low poo and co-washing are all included under the No Poo banner.

As you have travelled along your No Poo journey, you might have come across references to the low poo method.

If you are interested to learn more then carry on reading to find out the differences between No Poo and Low Poo, plus lots more fascinating info and tips.

What Does Low Poo Mean?

Low Poo is part of the No Poo family which rejects the use of sulphates and silicons in your hair care journey.

As the No Poo method has gained in popularity, low poo shampoos for different hair types are now available to buy in the shops, and online.

These low poo shampoos specifically cater to the following hair types:

  • Low Poo Shampoo For Fine Hair
  • Low Poo Shampoo For Straight Hair
  • Low Poo Shampoo For Curly Hair

Low Poo Vs No Poo

Low Poo vs No Poo can be a hotly debated subject.

As with other topics in the No Poo world such as the use of essential oils, some followers question whether such oils are truly No Poo or Low Poo.

If you want to delve into great detail on this subject, make sure you read my article No Poo v’s Low Poo to find out more.

What Is Low Poo Shampoo?

Low Poo shampoo is a shampoo that is free from the following chemicals:

  • Sulphates
  • Silicones
  • Parabens

It is possibly the easiest way to start your No Poo journey.

For many No’Pooers, low poo products have acted as a bridge between Full Poo (traditional shampoos) and No Poo where you only use natural ingredients to keep your hair clean and healthy.

As with No Poo, Low Poo rejects the use of silicons, sulphates, and parabens for the following reasons:

  • Silicons: Silicons can build up on your hair leaving it looking dull and weighing fine hair down. They stop moisture entering the hair, leaving it dry and prone to splitting and breakage.
  • Sulphates: Sulphates strip the natural oils from your hair. These natural oils are necessary to keep your hair in good condition and looking healthy.
  • Parabens: Although there is not enough scientific studies to confirm, many people avoid parabens as they believe they are irritants to your scalp and can dry out your hair.

When you use sulphates to clean your hair they strip the natural oils and encourage your scalp to produce extra oil to replenish what has been removed. Because of this, traditionally conditioners are used after shampooing to replenish the moisture lost.

However, the silicons in the conditioner coat the hair strands to make it appear that the hair is soft and shiny, and give it the ‘slip’ that we need to keep it from tangling too much.

The silicon does not allow any moisture to get into the hair, therefore keeping each hair strand dry.

Since the sulphates have already stimulated the scalp to produce more oil though, added to the fact that the silicons will not let moisture penetrate into the hair, your hair will likely look greasy quickly.

As a result, you reach for the traditional shampoo bottle again to wash out the grease, but all it does is further strip your hair of nutrients and moisture, which is then covered up by the use of a conditioner.

This vicious circle and increasing damage to your hair will continue until you ditch the traditional shampoos and move over to a more natural method of hair care.

This article will look in detail at the do’s and don’ts of Low Poo, and what ingredients you can and cannot use in your No Poo hair care regime.

Types Of Surfactant In Shampoos

Surfactants are the ingredients in shampoos that make the lovely foam that we all think means that the product is cleaning our hair better.

They are also designed to successfully remove the oils and dirt from our hair.

There are a few types of surfactants usually used, including:

  • Anionic
  • Nonionic
  • Amphoteric

To help you avoid them in your hair care washes, I have listed the most well-known surfactants below (source 1):

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  • Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate
  • Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate (2EO)
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – Low Poo as derived from natural products
  • Cocamide Monoethanolamide
  • Cocamide Monoisopropanolamine
  • Lauryl Glucoside
  • Cocoyl Methyl Glucamide

When you read the ingredient list of any shampoos, the number of different ingredients can be both difficult to read and confusing.

There are so many different formulations that it is easy to think that a product is Low Poo, or even No Poo, when in fact it contains ingredients that you do not want to be putting in your hair.

This is why in some cases it is easier to go No Poo and make your own washes and conditioners, as this way you know exactly what you are putting on your hair and scalp.

The thing to remember though is that there can be surfactants in Low Poo shampoos too, but that it is where the surfactant has come from that is important.

Those that have been taken from natural products (often coconuts) are suitable for Low Poo, but not for No Poo.

Are There Surfactants In Low Poo Shampoo?

Surfactants are the cleansing and foaming agents in shampoos (and many other day to day products).

When washing your hair, we wrongly assume that the more the lather, the better we think that our hair is being cleaned. This is not necessarily the case.

Most Low Poo shampoos will successfully clean your hair, but will often not produce the foaming that we are used to when using traditional shampoos.

In traditional shampoos, the surfactants are often sulphates which are used because they are inexpensive to produce.

There are, however, natural surfactants that you can use in your No Poo and Low Poo washes.

These natural products will not lather up to the same extent as the man-made alternatives, and they are far kinder to your hair and the environment.

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are often used as they contain very mild surfactant properties.

They also do not produce as many suds, but they are No Poo friendly and easy to use.

Read my guide on How To Wash Hair With Soap Nuts No Poo for more information and recipes.

Difference Between Low Poo And No Poo

Low Poo is often used as a step towards No Poo by those who want to improve the health of their hair, and use natural products to do so.

Both No Poo and Low Poo use products that are free from:

  • Sulphates
  • Silicones
  • Parabens
  • Other Non-Natural Perfumes

Going Low Poo does not often have the transition phase that transitioning from Full Poo to No Poo has, so is considered an attractive way to start your No Poo journey.

The main difference however is that those that follow Low Poo still use commercially available products. The products they use though are the ones with the prohibited chemicals removed.

By comparison, No Poo’ers generally forgo commercial shampoos and only use natural products; most of which you can find in your own pantry and garden.

Ultimately Low Poo v’s No Poo is often a contentious subject.

Overall though, we can see that both sets of individuals are simply working towards having cleaner, healthier hair without using chemicals.

Best Low Poo Shampoo

There is no one best low poo shampoo that I can recommend.

Instead, there is simply only shampoos that work better for your hair than others do.

Which low poo shampoo is best for your own individual needs will ultimately depend upon your hair type, your lifestyle, and to a great extent the water type you have where you live.

One of the most popular Low Poo shampoos is Cantu’s sulphate free cream shampoo sold on Amazon.

Whilst this shampoo does contain the chemical Cocamidopropyl Betaine, this is a surfactant that is derived from coconuts. It is therefore Low Poo rather than No Poo.

Another popular Low Poo shampoo choice would be the Ingredients shampoo and conditioner range sold on Amazon.

Click the link to read the glowing customer reviews.

There are other Low Poo products available online and each will affect your hair differently.

A trial and error approach is the best way to find what suits your individual hair.

Low Poo Shampoo For Fine Hair

Fine hair has to be treated gently and with care, regardless of whether you are Low Poo or No Poo.

It does not take much to weigh fine hair down, making it look dull and lifeless.

Doing a Low Poo pre poo will help condition your hair before washing so that using a conditioner is unnecessary and in turn, leaves your hair light and with greater volume.


When starting on your No Poo journey you may ask what does Low Poo mean, and query the differences between Low and No Poo.

In essence Low Poo, like No Poo, rejects silicons, sulphates and other man-made chemicals.

Unlike No Poo though, Low Poo followers can use surfactants if from natural sources in commercially available shampoos rather than making their own washes as official No Poo’ers do.

CO Wash Meaning

This is part of the No Poo hair care method. It simply means cleaning your hair using conditioner only. The conditioner used should not contain any sulfates, silicons, or other man-made chemicals.

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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