#NoPoo Hair Wash Using Rye Flour #BeatTheMicrobead

There are a lot of good reasons to quit shampoo.

Shampoos, like a lot of hair products, often contain silicones. Silicones only make your hair appear healthier – when in fact they are suffocating your hair by coating your hair. However, even silicone-free shampoos do contain a cocktail of additives, and no-one actually knows what impact mixing all those chemicals together actually has! We seem obsessed with our hair. There are shampoos out there to make blond hair blonder, black hair pitch-black, to make curly hair curlier, to make our hair so shiny it will probably start to glow in the dark very soon. It seems like we have long forgotten that the main function of shampoo is to simply rid our hair from dirt and excess oils produced by the scalp.

I quit shampoo seven months ago. I was hesitant at first (I, too, was willing to do a LOT to avoid a bad hair day), but I hated those plastic bottles we buy shampoo in even more. Plastic leaks unhealthy substances like BPA and phthalates into liquids (and food), so who knows how this cocktail of chemicals will affect our body! Besides, plastic is not biodegradable. A simple PET bottle takes around 500 – 1,000 years to decompose on a landfill, which means your shampoo bottle might still be there in 2515! That is, if it does not end up in the ocean, where exposure to UV light, water and oxygen breaks down the material a lot faster – into microscopic particles.

Those plastic particles absorb toxins just like microbeads. You know, those plastic beads smaller than a grain of sand they put into cosmetics for texture or as exfoliants. Of course they are in shampoo, too!

Anyway, in the ocean both broken down bits of plastic and microbeads – full with poisonous stuff – are swallowed by fish and make their way right back to us in our sushi lunch special. Eeewww! I don’t know about you, but I am glad I’m vegan…

No-Poo Options

We are all so used to using shampoo, the thought of ditching it can be scary. However, there are a lot of no-poo options so you, too, will find the right one for you :). Most no-poo advocates use baking soda, some use alep soap (a very natural, vegan, palm oil free olive oil soap), some use mineral clay. I use rye flour.

Before I switched to rye flour to wash my hair, I used (vegan) solid shampoo bars. You can buy them without any packaging at Lush stores. As far as I know, all of their products are palm oil free, but not necessarily vegan. However, please keep in mind that just like regular shampoo, solid shampoo bars rely heavily on surfactants (surface active agents or wetting agents that give a product the ability to remove dirt). Most surfactants are biodegradable within 28 days, however, in this period of time they can still be very harmful to aquatic organisms. So we try to reduce the use of surfactants (soap included).

Rye Flour Hair Wash

Rye Flour is packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and even contains Omega 3 fatty acids! It is ph 5.0 so it does not disrupt the natural ph balance of our hair and skin (4.0 – 5.5). It contains a lot of Vitamin B5, too. Because of its regenerating and anti-inflammatory effects, Vitamin B5 is often used in antiseptic ointments, baby care products or other products targeted to people with very sensitive skin.

My hair is not very long, so I mix 2 tablespoons of rye flour with some lukewarm water (using a small whisk) until the consistency is somewhat shampoo-like. That takes me less than a minute.

I apply it just like I used to apply shampoo, leave it on for maybe two minutes, and rinse it out thoroughly. It did take some getting used to since there was neither the shampoo-smell I was so used to nor any foam. With no foam at all I was worried my hair would not come out clean… Turned out I need not have worried. My hair was clean – odorless, but nevertheless clean.

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Even though I try to live zero waste, it is still very difficult for me to let go of dying my hair. I have had everything from neon pink to apple green and I just looooove wearing those loud colors on my head. Even before I abandoned shampoo I have used apple cider vinegar to rinse my hair on a regular basis. Simply because it is a really effective method to conserve the color of dyed hair by sealing the hair cuticles.

I now use it instead of conditioner. You can leave it in but I prefer to rinse it out to prevent my hair smelling like a salad dressing. I mix 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. You can go up to mixing 1 part of apple cider vinegar with 2 parts of water. Your hair will immediately feel softer.

My Conclusion After Seven Months

I have always had greasy hair. I had to wash my hair at least every second day. Now with rye flour instead of shampoo and apple cider vinegar instead of conditioner my hair actually lasts up to five days!

I also used to dye my hair every two to at most three weeks (after maybe 7-8 washes). Take a look at the photo – I have not dyed my hair for 2 1/2 months now (11-12 washes) and is it only me or is the color still looking fabulous ;)?

At first, my hair felt a bit weird. It did not feel as smooth and soft as I was used to. That was because I was so used to all the additives in the shampoo that only maintained the appearance of healthy and shiny hair. Oh well, I thought, I would rather have my hair look less shiny than using tons and tons of chemicals.
After a while (and probably because all the chemicals were finally washed out) my hair got used to it and after now seven months it feels healthy, light and soft, and not heavy like it used to (especially after using conditioner).

I have no intention of ever going back to using shampoo again. No thanks.

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45 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for suggesting rye flour, I have naturally greasy hair as well and this was such a great find for me. I feel like so many other options left my hair looking worse and impossible to go out in public with! The rye flour was a much easier transition.

    Happy I found your blog! Keep up the Awesome work!

    • So glad it works so well for you ❤️! I have tried alep soap and vinegar rinse for a month in November, but it left me with greasy hair so quit and went back to rye flour :D.

  2. Hi Shia,

    Wishing you a great 2016. I just wanted to share my story with you regarding the rye flour shampoo recipe. Iam based in London and Iam a male . I had a really sensitive scalp and had issues with dandruff for the past many years. I tried every shampoo expensive to organic. All herbal and other alternate options. So many oils just to solve my issue. I went to many dermatologists they gave me medication and gels but all in vain. I came across your blog while googling a remedy that could solve my issue. Its been 2 months and I cant imagine iam so happy and feels like I have a new scalp on my head.. No dandruff , no itching or flaking no dryness its just all so normal. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your blog and its like an inspiration for me . By the way I use rye flour (wholemeal) and it works great for me…
    Regards,

    Sami

    • Hi Sami,
      so glad to hear rye flour works so incredibly well for you :)!! I know how annoying it can be to try everything, even what the dermatologist prescribes, and have nothing working for you! I have atopic dermatitis, and it was really bad when I was younger. It just wouldn’t go away regardless of what I tried. At night (while asleep), I would scratch it and wake up with bloody patches :(. The treatment my dermatologist “prescribed” was wearing special gloves at night. Well, and a lot of ointments that never really worked. So yes, I totally feel you :D!
      Rye flour is really great for my sensitive skin too :D! I now use it as a facial mask and my skin is so soft afterwards :).
      Have a great 2016 too!! And thank you so much for sharing :)!!
      Shia

  3. Hi Shia,
    No worries at all… So how do use it as a facial mask(with the same recipe). and what form of rye flour do you use (white, wholemeal, dark,light). Iam based in London so the water here is hard where are you based?
    Sami

    • Hi Sami,
      I use white rye flour because I find it is easier to rinse than whole grain rye flour. I just put some of it onto my face when I wash my hair and rinse it off with my hair too :D! I live in Germany and the water in my city is soft, but since you are (hopefully) not using boiling hot water to shower that shouldn’t make that big a difference ;).
      Shia

  4. Hi Shia,
    I hope your good. I will try it on my face and see what difference does it make. If you visit London do give a shout would be great to couchsurf and show you around.. Thanks again…
    Regards,
    Sami

    • Hi Sami,
      sorry for the late reply! Do let me know how using rye flour on your face works for you :)! As a matter of fact, my husband and I are planning to go to London in March (he’s there for a conference anyway so we decided to make a trip out of it)! Would be cool to meet u, to walk around, or just to chill in a coffee shop :)!
      Shia

  5. Hi Shia,
    I hope your doing great.. Well this rye flour is like a sensation. Even though I dont have oily scalp on my face it just makes it more softer and fresher (my whole family is hooked on it now) .Ya sure that would be great …Iam going to Dubai for my annual holidays so I will be back mid of March.. But keep me updated when you guys are coming…Iam on thunderizing23@hotmail.com (samih sheikh) facebook can add me and keep me updated when our coming… Enjoy..
    Sami

    • Hey Sami,
      sorry for not contacting you when we were in London. We went back to Germany because my husband’s grandmother passed away and we wanted to be there at the funeral. So it was all a bit chaotic.
      Hope you are doing well and the rye flour is still working great for you :)!
      xx Shia

  6. Amanda Chan

    Hello Shia!

    This is Amanda writing from NYC! I have eczema and seasonal allergies myself so after washing my hair everyday due to greasy roots and over-oil production, I am hoping to give up commercial shampoos for good! I am hoping the rye flour shampoo will work since I just started doing the honey and ACV rinse and my hair is still pretty greasy.

    It looks like you had no troubeshooting using straight white Rye flour and water. Some people complained about white specks on their heads after their hair dried. Can you share your experience with that? I will make sure I strain the rye flour but I just want to make sure I don’t go to work looking like I have dandruff!

    I really appreciate you and your blog! It’s nice to meet a fellow Asian woman so I can gauge a more similar hair type as opposed to blondes or brunettes!

    Thank you!!

  7. Marianne

    Hello Shia,

    I just rinsed my hair with the rye flour shampoo and my sink became clogged. I have a hair catcher and it caught some of the rye flour but I think most of it went down the drain.

    Do you do anything specific so it does not clog your bathtub sink?

    Also, where do you buy your white rye flour at?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Marianne,
      sorry for the late reply!! Our drain has never been clogged ever since we moved in (which was before I started using rye flour). However, if your drain gets clogged, you can use baking soda, hot water, and vinegar. Pour 4 cups of boiling water down your drain, followed by 6 tbsp of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar. Cover with drain plug, let sit for 10 mins, flush with some more boiling water.
      I buy the rye flour in health food stores :).
      xxx
      Shia

  8. I too have been using rye flour mixed with herbal tea to create a paste and following up with watered down ACV. It works amazing and so had the same result of not needing to wash my hair for a week! I also use a fox seed and water gel for molding my hair and it works great too!

  9. Soo happy to have found this!! We’ve been using rye flour shampoo for a few months (after reading your post), and it’s great! Such soft and clean hair. The only problem is that we currently live in an area with hard water, and it makes it super hard to get out! Have you ever experienced this? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!

    Love what you’re doing with zero waste btw!

    • Hi Sam,
      so glad to hear you like it :)! We have very soft water here so I have never had the dandruff-like residue you are probably experiencing. Some readers told me about it, and they, too, have hard water. Have you tried to rinse with vinegar and to leave it in for a couple of minutes? Vinegar usually helps when it comes to hard water.
      Please keep me posted :)!!

    • You can try to install a water filter on your shower head. I ordered mine from Amazon.com for about $20. Easy installation – just unscrew the shower head and screw on the filter and attach the shower head to the filter. It’s THAT easy. Minerals can build up and deposit on the hair. I experienced this issue and had to troubleshoot that it was the water making my hair feel crunchy. It works wonders. Good luck!

      • Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My website is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Thanks!

  10. Marinette

    I have been steadily taking out plastics and chemicals thanks to this blog! I’m so glad i found this method, (baking soda and apple cider vinegar was obviously not too for the scalp), i’m currently in high school and everyone thinks i’m crazy when i say i wash my hair one or twice a week and with rye flour non the less!! So thank you! i have a question, about do you use for tooth paste?i tried coconut oil with baking soda but i had no peppermint essential oils (plus i was kinda scared of putting even diluted essential oil in my mouth) so my mouth doesn’t feel so clean and i really don’t want cavities sooooo…i went back to plastic packaged toothpaste, what do i do?? is there an alternative? What about tooth powder? Thank you!!

    • LOL, I also get the same reactions XD! I have tried all kinds of tooth powders and homemade toothpaste. The one I like best so far is: 2 tbsp coconut oil, 2 tsp of blended baking soda (I blend it bc baking soda can be quite abrasive otherwise), 1 tsp of xylitol (it is a sweetener you can find in some health food stores and that prevents cavities, but can be difficult to get ZW) 15 drops of essential mint oil and 5 drops of tea tree oil (tea tree oil is antibacterial, and so is coconut oil btw). Do give it a try :)! If you do want to keep using flourid, you might be able to get flouridated salt. At least it is sold in pretty much every supermarket in Germany (I live in Germany ;)). Do let me know if you decide to give it a try :)!

  11. Pingback: 21 days: No Shampoo – The Flipside Journal

  12. Hi Shia, I’ve stopped using shampoo like 3 weeks ago and I washing my hair with baking soda. Now that I’ve found this new receipt I’ll give it a try. I know at first the hair is greasier than ever but I’m still washing it but now we natural things. I mean, I replace commercial shampoo for baking soda and now I’ll rye flour… is it ok? or should I don’t wash at all until my hair recovers from commercial shampoo and after that start using natural alternatives?

    So far I don’t feel it clean at all… I’ve also tried a cleansing mask (1/2 banana, honey, olive oil and 1 egg) but I don’t want to give up!!

    Any tips?

    • Hi Luli,
      Bea Johnson has said that this happened to her when she was using baking soda. I have never used baking soda to wash my hair, and I am vegan, so I have not tried honey or egg either. It takes time for your scalp and hair to adjust after using shampoo your entire life, and 3 weeks really isn’t enough time to draw a conclusion, I’m afraid.
      Do give rye flour (not whole meal!!) a try, and do rinse with apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp + 1 cup of water) afterwards. It takes a bit of patience, but in any case, your hair should come out clean, it just might become greasy faster before your scalp learns to adjust to the new conditions, and then you should be able to wash your hair less frequently than before. If you want to prolong your hair wash cycle, use corn starch as a dry shampoo.
      All the best,
      Shia

      • Hi Shia! Thanks for the answer! Yes, I’ll give it more time.. I change now to rye flour.. I use it only once but I’ll keep using it.. I’m looking forward to see changes 🙂 Though I feel it a bit greasy and like rough I’m washing my hair not everyday, I skip one day.. I hope I’ll be able to wash it 3 o 4 times a week.
        Thanks!

  13. I used these flour for about 6 months, but beside it absorbes fat perfectly, my hair became just dirty. Not oily, but dirty. After touching it my fingers became dirty:( Didn’t you notice it on you?

    • Hi Amber,
      I’m afraid I have never had my hair feeling dirty after I washed it with rye flour. However, I did wash it with whole meal rye flour once, and I had little bits left in my hair looking like dandruff, which wasn’t so great. I make the rye flour + water mixture a bit more on the runny side now, and I always rinse my hair thoroughly. Do you rinse with apple cider vinegar? (I always do, since I also used to use conditioner)
      Shia

  14. Thanks for writing this blog post. Im using banking soda now. I prepare a big bottle (2 liters) of water and baking soda mixture, and use some of it every time I wash my hair.

    I tried the rye flour recipe here, and prepared a batch in a small bottle. I used some of it immediately, and since was left in the bottle. After a couple of days I wanted to wash my hair again, but the bottle with the rye flour shampoo was shelling very bad, I threw it out.

    My question is, is it possible to prepare a batch of rye flour shampoo in advance, or do you have to mix it every time you wash your hair?

    Thanks

    • Hey Benny, you can make it a night in advance and keep it in thr fridge. But I wouldn’t recommend keeping it any longer. Remember it is mild bc it has the same PH value as our scalp which is one of the things that prevents irritation of the scalp. So unlike baking soda (alcaline) or store-bought products (added preservatives) it does not have any conserving properties! Personally, I mix it rightbefore I wash my hair. It takes less than a minute even when I’m still sleepy :).

  15. Hello! Thanks for sharing this. I am considering the quitting shampoo seriously. I also wonder about if it’s possible to premade the rye flour mixture? And how often do you wash your hair? Do you have the stretch it out like the baking soda method? I work out daily and so I sweat daily. I wonder how you recommend me starting this journey.

  16. Abbey Donavan

    Hi Shia!

    Thanks for all the insightful information!

    Do you have a zero waste hair dye alternative? I love the blue, but I can’t find any zero waste dye that isn’t “normal” hair colors (like henna).

    Thanks,
    Abbey

    • Hi Abby, I’m afraid you will not get these kinds of bright hair colors with all-natural hair dyes :(. I really tried to find some, but every hairdresser and shop kept telling me it is impossible :(… I’m actually considering going back to my natural hair color at the moment. Sorry for not being very helpful!
      Shia

  17. Hi Shia! I can’t find organic rye flour. Is it okay to use a regular non-organic whole grain rye flour? Thanks so much!!!!

    • Hi Isabell! To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend using whole grain rye flour because it can bits that look like dandruff. In general, non-organic rye flour works just as well, but here, too, do try to avoid the whole meal flour :).

  18. Hi Shia, Have you ever tried adding essential oils to the mix to add some scent? I abandoned the baking soda method after a few months as my hair didn’t quite adjust – tried it a few years ago. Am excited to try rye flour though; I’d never heard this method before! But the other thing I had trouble with was my odorless or slightly vinegary smelling hair. Do you think it would work adding essential oils to the rye flour, or just doing a small spray with essential oils in water post-shower? Thanks!

    • Hi Kristin,
      no, I have never tried adding essential oils, it should be ok to though. I grew up with super sensitive and very very difficult skin, so I have always had to go for the odorless/ unscented version of things (which cost a fortune!). Today, being exposed to scented things make me cringe and I get all itchy just thinking about it. I rarely even use essential oils (only for their properties, not their scent), and when I do, I put in as little as possible :D. You can make your own scented spray by adding 2-3 drops of essential oil to 1/2 cup of boiled and cooled down water.
      Happy holidays!
      Shia

  19. Hi Shia, just found your blog. What a treasure 🙂

    So you use apple cider vinegar instead of conditioner, is that correct understood. Does that soften your hair? If I dont use conditioner, my hair fells a bit stift.

  20. Vanessa Lopez

    Hi Shia,

    Just discovered your site and the rye flour shampoo method. Ive been using baking soda for a bit but it has been drying out my hair pretty bad, so Im excited to try the rye flour option. One question I have is, what is the shelf life of the rye flour shampoo? Have you ever made a big batch and just refrigerate the excess or do you normally make a small batch each time before you shower?

    Thanks!
    Vanessa

    • Hey Vanessa,
      no, I have never made a big batch. I have made a small one and put it in the fridge over night when I knew I would have to leave the house quickly in the morning, and that works fine. However, I have made my own sourdough (I make my own bread sometimes) before, and guess how you make sourdough? You basically just mix water and rye flour and let it sit until it turns sour ;). So, um, no I wouldn’t recommend making a big batch ;).
      Shia

  21. Hi there! I’m curious if there was a transition time between going from “regular” shampoo to this method — did it take a few weeks to even out?

  22. Pingback: Washing hair with rye flour - zero waste | Lookforsmile

  23. As far as blue dye; it may not be bright, but is nice and deep blue. Try indigo powder; it is applied in almost the same manner as henna. I got that from kimmaytube; she mixes henna with indigo to get her black color, but the blue was dark. There is probably something you can do to get a lighter blue. Just a suggestion, never tried it.

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