Natural Shampoo Not ‘Working’? Try These 8 Tips

April 22, 2022 (updated May 10, 2023) — Written by

A few years ago I went from washing my hair every day with conventional shampoo to washing my hair with apple cider vinegar—and it wasn’t pretty. Since then, I’ve developed a few tips for making your natural shampoo work for you. Keep reading for my tips.

a woman holds a bottle of evolvh shampoo near her bathtub

This post is generously sponsored by EVOLVh, an ethical haircare line that meets ECOCERT requirements, COSMOS requirements, is Soils Association Approved, NaTrue Approved and Global Approved. As always, The New Knew only works with brands who we trust are making the world a better place.

By: Lisa Fennessy


When I swapped my conventional shampoo for a more ethical option, I was on a mission to create a more natural haircare routine—and at that time this meant a lot of trial and error.  

Not to say that if you are looking to swap your shampoo out for something better you need to turn to ACV. That’s a hard NO. Natural shampoos have come leaps and bounds over the past few years. And I will be the first to tell you there is way less compromise and a lot more clean, bouncy hair running around these clean beauty streets than there used to be. 

If you are committed to using better-for-you shampoos, you can absolutely get them to work for you. Here’s a few tips from yours truly plus some pros to get you there.

RELATED: We consider clean shampoos to be free from TNK’s No Thanks ingredients.

Tips to make your natural shampoo work for you

a woman pumps shampoo into her hand

Tip #1: If you haven’t tried a natural shampoo in a while, try again! 

Seriously, I remember back in 2016 it was either Acure or Acure, which left me in the corner with tear-stained cheeks because I still had dirty hair after using an entire bottle of shampoo on my head. Well, science has come a long way and now there are actually better-for-you shampoo brands out there THAT WORK. 

I recommend giving EVOLVh a try. EVOLVh is easy to use and cleans hair with practically zero learning curve. Available in four options: UtraShine Moisture Shampoo (for drier hair), SmartCurl Hydrating Wash (for curly hair), SmartColor Protecting Shampoo (for color treated hair) and InstaVolume Cleansing Treatment (for added volume).  

All four of their shampoos work great for me. I just happened to like the UltraShine Moisture Shampoo because my gray hair is a little drier than my brown hair. I also am partial to its fresh grapefruit scent. 

RELATED: Check out TNK’s full review of EVOLVh’s haircare.

Tip #2: Not all natural shampoos are created equal

That being said, I’ve tried my fair share of natural shampoos and I’m here to say with 100% confidence that some work, some work better than others and some don’t work at all. 

Don’t give up if you try one and it’s not a match for you. There are so many factors that play into a shampoo’s success rate like surfactant structure, water type, washing frequency and hair type, for example.

Tip #3: Mindset shift 

Using natural shampoos is not a 1:1 experience with using conventional shampoos. Chances are, if you use natural shampoo the same way you use conventional shampoo and expect the same outcome, you may be left disappointed. 

RELATED: This is the best hair product we’ve tried.

Tip #4: Read the directions carefully

Not all natural shampoos work the same. Some come condensed and need water added back in; some need to be applied to soaking wet hair; some literally say they will not foam. Everything you need to know should be on the box / label. 

Tip #5: Apply shampoo to your scalp, not just your hair

If you don’t wash your scalp, it will still be dirty. Part your hair into quarters and be sure shampoo is applied to your scalp, not just on top of your hair. If shampoo is applied only on your hair, it will only clean your hair and your scalp will still feel dirty.

After the product is applied to your scalp, give it a nice massage and be sure to get all parts of your head including the nape of your neck, which can be the greasiest for some people.

Tip #6: Double cleanse! 

My best tip is to double cleanse—meaning to wash your hair twice. The first wash will loosen up any grime, oil and dirt while the second wash actually gets in there and is able to CLEAN the hair and scalp. Washing twice also gives you a better suds on the second round too. Think of this like sweeping your floor before you mop.

Tip #7: Try adjusting your washing frequency 

If you are used to washing your hair every 4 days with conventional shampoo, you may want to try washing your hair every 2 or 3 days with natural shampoo. This could be especially true for people with fine or thin hair that tends to get greasy faster. 

For me, I used to wash my hair daily with conventional shampoo, but now I wash my hair twice a week with natural shampoo—a shift that has happened over time. 

Tip #8: Apply conditioner midshaft to the tips  

Avoid applying conditioner to your scalp if possible. This can weigh your hair down and make it feel less clean. 

RELATED: My Everything Hair Care Routine—A Step By Step Guide

a woman suds up her hair

Additional tips from people who have tried A LOT of natural shampoos…

xo, lisa in cursive

TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!


  1. Reply

    Lindsey Lawson

    Do you have a favorite clean shampoo for dandruff? Or tips, it’s really dry here and my whole family is suffering. Thank you!

  2. Reply


    I had been suffering with scales on my scalp for years and what has worked for me is making a mask of bentonite clay or French green clay and applying to my scalp and then I apply castor oil and tea tree oil. I leave those on for a few minutes while I brush and floss or maybe longer while I read a good book. I was amazed how this treatment helped my scalp and enhanced my curly hair, making it feel thicker and curlier. I am beginning my transition to gray and enjoying the journey.

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