I ditched liquid shampoo more than three years ago. I have tried many things in the meantime, mostly out of curiousity. Solid shampoo, hair soap, liquid Castile soap, bar soap, bentonite clay, and yes, light rye flour.
What can I say, so far rye flour has always been my favorite! So far! Because I just started to wash my hair with water only three weeks ago, as my IG followers know because I wouldn't shut up about it 😝! That might just become my new favorite... 😉 Time will tell I guess. But until then I wanted to address your numerous questions on using rye flour!
- Does any kind of flour work?
- Isn't it too sticky?
- It's difficult to get light rye flour. Can I use whole rye flour instead?
- Will it clog my drain?
- Prepare your drain before you start using rye flour!
- Does rye flour work for my hair type?
- What about damaged hair, e.g. dyed, permed, straightened?
- How long does it take for my scalp and hair to get used to it?
- I know it's normal to have greasy hair during the transition period. But it's really difficult to stick with it this way... Any tips?
- Can I still use shampoo in between or is it all or nothing?
- I had difficulties distributing the rye flour paste. Is that normal or where did I go wrong?
- My hair feels waxy...
Does any kind of flour work?
No, it doesn't. As far as I know gram (chickpea) flour also works. But if you were thinking about wheat or spelt flour, nope. Wheat and spelt flour contain a lot of gluten. This means rather than a paste it will become a sticky batter. Better save that better for pancakes or waffles if you ask me.
Isn't it too sticky?
Only if you decided to substitute rye flour with another kind of flour (see above). 😉
It's difficult to get light rye flour. Can I use whole rye flour instead?
Personally, I don't recommend it. Whole rye flour doesn't work for everyone and is generally more difficult to rinse out. I myself have very thick hair and it's impossible for me to get everything out. I look like it snowed on my afterwards.
Light rye flour, on the other hand, works for all hair types. And saves water! #conservewater
Will it clog my drain?
I always thought it didn't. However, I had to learn it was only because we generally took good care of our drains.
Every drain in our apartment is covered by a hair trap, and every few months we run half a gallon (~ 1.5 liters) of hot water down our pipes to get rid of oil build ups.
If you don't use a hair trap or there is already a blockage of hair forming somewhere in your drain, using rye flour will clog your drain. The actual problem is not the rye flour, but the hair. The rye flour paste will stick to the hair in the drain like any other build up.
But fear not — here's what you can do!
Prepare your drain before you start using rye flour!
It's time to deep clean your pipes 😇. You might think this is too much of a bother, but frankly, if you don't use a hair trap you will have to take care of this at some point anyway.
Step 1: Get rid of any hair in the drain
If there is hair you can see somewhere entangled in the top part, try to remove it with tweezers. If there is already a slight blockage, get a drain snake. Or clear your drain the natural way without harsh chemicals
Step 2: Get rid of the build up
Instead of pouring commercial drain cleaner down the drain, go for this DIY recipe. All you need is hot water, baking soda, and vinegar.
Step 3: Keep your drain clear!
Like I said, cover every drain in your house with a hair trap is the key. Run hot water down the pipes regularly. Pour some diluted vinegar (1 cup white vinegar + 3 cups water) down the drain every few months, especially if you live in an area with hard water. This should be enough to save you from the messy task of unclogging your drain.
Does rye flour work for my hair type?
Light rye flour works for every hair type, especially if you suffer from a dry, itchy scalp, dandruff, or greasy hair. However, do keep in mind the transition period can be tough.
The only restriction I know of is a rye intolerance.
What about damaged hair, e.g. dyed, permed, straightened?
Yes, it does, but do make sure to apply an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after each hair wash. In fact, rye flour is great for dyed hair! I used to have really colorful hair. My hair went through all colors of the rainbow. I loved how it looked, but hated re-dyeing my hair every two weeks. Rye flour + ACV rinse helped me extend the period to 2+ months, because it's just so much milder than shampoo!
Damaged hair has extra needs. Rye flour is packed with vitamins (e.g. vitamin B5), minerals, amino acids, and even contains Omega 3 fatty acids, so it's perfect to replenish the loss of damaged hair. I even use it as a face mask 😂!
The ACV rinse seals the cuticles, making the hair softer and also seals all of the rye flour's nutrients.
Unlike shampoo rye flour doesn't contain any additives that coat the hair (e.g. silicone) to make the hair appear healthier than it actually is. So if you are used to using shampoo for damaged hair, you might think rye flour makes your hair dry, but I assure you this is not the case. However, for damaged hair I recommend a coconut oil hair mask from time to time. Just apply coconut oil to your hair in the evening, especially the dry tips. Then you literally sleep on it 😉(put a cloth over your pillow to avoid stains), and wash your hair the next day with rye flour and an ACV rinse.
How long does it take for my scalp and hair to get used to it?
It is pretty much impossible to tell. Some people don't have any awkward transition period at all, while others struggle for months. It depends on your hair and skin type, problems you might have, and what kind of products you previously used.
We have used shampoo our entire life. It doesn't make sense to expect our body to get used to something else over night, right?
This is what happens during the transition period
- Your scalp is used to getting deep cleaned every few days. This means it is used to compensate this by producing a lot of natural oils every time after you have washed your hair. However, rye flour isn't as aggressive. So in the beginning your hair will get greasy faster, because your scalp keeps producing the oils at its usual rate until it gradually learns the mild hair wash is not an exception, but the rule now. I used to shampoo my hair almost every day, and now I'm at every 4-5 days!
- Once the scalp naturalizes, issues like dandruff, dryness, ans sometimes even hair loss will also vanish, because they are usually caused by using too invasive products (i.e. shampoo)
- Shampoos and conditioners leave quite the build up in your hair. Whatever is coating your hair and scalp needs to go in order for your scalp and hair to naturalize. This takes time, and some substances like silicone cannot be completely removed. The build up is often the culprit for a waxy feeling when you start going no-poo (👉 more on what to do when your hair feels waxy below)
- Once you have removed most of the build up, damaged hair will feel dryer than before. This is because the build up coats the hair making it appear more healthy—which is actually bad for your hair! (👉 See the question above to read more on damaged hair)
I was able to get rid of most of the build up within the first two weeks. After two weeks, I only had to wash my hair every 2-3 days instead of almost every day. I was able to extend it to every 4-5 days later and that's what I am at at them moment after more than three years.
I know it's normal to have greasy hair during the transition period. But it's really difficult to stick with it this way... Any tips?
I feel you! I am giving water only a try in the middle of a hot summer ☀️😅. But getting through it is sooo worth it! I go for beanies, hats, caps... Anything to hide greasy hair under. Now that my hair is longer I can put my hair up or in braids.
Another great method is using dry shampoo. Simply apply starch/cocoa powder generously with a big brush (e.g. a makeup brush). Brush your hair and run your fingers through your hair with a shaking motion to get rid of the excess. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the starch for some fragrance.
Can I still use shampoo in between or is it all or nothing?
It takes time to wash out the shampoo and conditioner build up and for your scalp and hair to adjust to rye flour. Your scalp and hair needs to learn that shampoo isn't the default anymore, but rye flour, so continuing to produce as much natural oils as before makes no sense. Using shampoo during this transition period will only extend it.
Once your scalp and hair has naturalized, you can use shampoo or hair soap, but only as an exception. Or your hair will adjust to shampoo again, meaning it will once more start producing a lot of natural oils to compensate for the loss after using shampoo.
More Zero Waste Hair Care
I do not recommend switching back and forth, especially if you suffer from dandruff, hair loss, or dryness. Switching back and forth means your scalp and hair won't know what to adjust to. Besides, the goal is to wash out as much of the build us as possible, not to add to it again.
You'd be surprised how many followers tell me rye flour or other no-poo methods don't work for their hair type. I usually ask them if they have used shampoo in between, and they always have, because they didn't like the transition period.
What about at the hair salon?
You can always ask them to just wet your hair if it's only a haircut. Do make sure to wash your hair at home beforehand though. 😉
To avoid lengthy, awkward conversations I sometimes tell them I cannot use shampoo due to my hypersensitive scalp.
I have also brought a bar hair soap with me and asked my hair stylist to use that one to wash my hair, because it's obviously easier than getting them to use rye flour. Like I said, if straying from rye flour is only an exception, that's not going to confuse your hair too much.
Funny story... It was actually my hair stylist who introduced me to the AVC rinse! He applied it every time he dyed my hair to make the color last longer!
I had difficulties distributing the rye flour paste. Is that normal or where did I go wrong?
But in general, since rye flour doesn’t leather, distributing it on your scalp and hair is more difficult compared to shampoo in the first place. Making the paste runnier helps.
The paste is supposed to be runnier than shampoo, a lot runnier if you have thick hair. Don't let the paste sit after you made it or it will thicken over time.
If you are using whole rye flour, switch to light rye flour. Whole rye flour is a pain to rinse out and is also more difficult to apply.
If you have really thick hair like I do, you can part your hair different ways to apply the paste, pretty much like you would when dyeing your hair. Just not as thoroughly. It's not an exact science, and ever since I started washing my hair with water only, I am inclined to say it doesn't matter too much if a few strains of hair do not even get in touch with the paste, as long as you scrub your head well and rinse well.
My hair feels waxy...
There are two possible explanations: it's old shampoo build up and/or the hard water.
What if it's build up from the shampoo I previously used?
Conventional shampoo contains many substances (e.g. silicone) that coat your hair to make it appear shiny and healthy. When I first switched to rye flour, my hair also turned waxy despite the soft water. The culprit was unmistakably the build up, because I also started to grow out my undercut on one side. The new hair felt phenomenally soft, healthy, and was very shiny! The old hair was heavy and felt waxy. As time went by and I was able to wash off most of the build up it got better gradually.
You can speed up the process by using fellow zero waster Ariana's tip. Dilute some Castile soap heavily with water. Spray onto your dry hair until it reaches your scalp and then wash your hair. Read more on it here. 💚
What if it is because of hard water?
Hard water can make your scalp's natural oils, the sebum, turn waxy. An ACV rinse helps get rid of it. Many no-poo enthusiasts do not recommend ACV rinses because it messes with the scalp's natural PH value. However, I believe it is a matter of how you apply it. Never rinse with straight ACV, and never leave it in like it is often recommended. I dilute 1 tablespoon of ACV with one cup of water, I only apply it to my hair so it hardly touches my scalp, and I make sure to rinse it out with water afterwards. Despite my hypersensitive skin I have never had any issues using the ACV rinse this way. I have had issues when I left the rinse in or used ACV straight by the way, so don't do that. 😉
Leave me a comment if you have any other questions or to share your experience! It is much appreciated ❤️ #SharingIsCaring