During this year’s Lent period I decided to give up shampoo – and kept going beyond Easter.
My No Poo / Water Only adventure started when I was searching for some zero waste alternatives for my regular shampoo that comes in a plastic bottle. Since I really don’t like soap (looks ugly in the bathroom and is pretty inconvenient for travel), and creating my DIY-shampoo with stuff I don’t know how it will affect my hair (baking soda? lemon? nope.) didn’t seem like a good alternative for me either. The combination of me not being a chemist and being somewhat lazy lead me to the ultimate No Poo version: Water Only.
The Water Only pioneers on YouTube promise great hair days every day without any hair products: Apparently using our hair’s natural oils will do the job and nourish the hair as well as protect it. Soft, hydrated, silky, and clean hair with just using warm water to wash it – seems too good to be true, right? So I decided to take a shot at going Water Only – and I’m still going strong after three months.
In this post, I write about my personal No Poo / Water Only experiences. I hope to be able to inspire or even help you going No Poo by sharing my own story. As you cannot really go wrong with the No Poo / Water Only method, I recommend to experiment with it yourself and find out your own personal routine.
Why No Poo / Water Only?
My main reasons:
- waste prevention, esp. plastic waste
- saving money
- less luggage while traveling
- minimalist lifestyle
- freedom: no more planning when to wash my hair
- getting rid of that vicious circle: the more you wash your hair, the quicker it gets greasy
My starting point before No Poo / Water Only
- hair: very fine, straight, shoulder-length, not colored
- shampoo: vegan, organic, natural, plant-based
- hair wash frequency: every 2-3 days, hair got greasy very fast
- styling products: none
- hair care: deep conditioner every now and then, sometimes coconut oil (leave on over night, wash out with shampoo the next morning)
Starting the No Poo / Water Only method
The first step is always the hardest. But then the whole thing was easier than thought. You have to have a strong will in order to get through the first weeks, aka the adjusting phase, though.
- cold start: I quit using everything except water for my hair from one day to the next
- first hair wash without shampoo takes much getting used to, but the following hair washes felt already normal
- I maintained the hair wash frequency of 2-3 days (no first week without a hair wash)
- it was not easy in the beginning to realize that the water only washes out dust, dandruff, etc., and not the sebum itself
- during the first few days wax-like residues on the roots (vanished after about a week)
- emergency helpers (hair was VERY greasy in the beginning): hats and buns; plus brushing the hair helps miraculously!
- mental help: the two facts that
a) more people than you think have the courage to go out with greasy hair – you are really not the freak you think you are; and
b) most people around you do not even notice that you don’t have completely fat-free hair, you only think it’s the only thing they see when they look at you
My No Poo / Water Only hair wash routine
- brush from all sides before the hair wash, in order to distribute the sebum from the roots into the hair
- same frequency as before (every 2-3 days)
- same process of washing as before, only without shampoo: massaging the hair in the shower with running water, as if I would soap them
- same amount of washing time as before (about 5-10 minutes)
- water temperature: my feel-good temperature (very warm 😉 )
1. I dry my hair with a towel as usual and tie it around my head like a turban for a couple of minutes.
2. Sometimes I comb my damp hair with a wide-toothed comb.
3. I air-dry or blow-dry my hair (both works fine).
4. After my hair is dry, I brush it thoroughly.
Brushing the hair got so much more important than it was before – it is like the only hair care together with the washing.
- hairbrush: I use two brushes in turns; an old round brush that I still had in my bathroom cabinet, and a new sisal hair brush (vegan)
- frequency: once thoroughly in the morning and in the evening; apart from that: quick brushing with a normal hair brush when I go out or refresh myself
- brushing thoroughly: from the roots to the ends, to distribute the sebum in the hair; I brush my hair in different directions and part it, to reach as much of my hair as possible; I brush for about 2-3 minutes
- cleaning: the brush looks dusty after brushing (yuck!); I rinse the brush after every use with lukewarm water and remove the hair with a wide-toothed comb; then I let the brush air-dry
Results / Changes so far
- the hair is much easier to comb, especially when it’s wet
- much less hair loss (almost no hair in the bed or in the shower drain anymore, yay!)
- after the first few weeks no more flyaway hair
- hair feels stronger and thicker
- unfortunately some problems with dandruff since I started No Poo / Water Only, especially when I delay the hair wash; will hopefully be better soon
- after about four weeks suddenly dry, unhealthy hair; according to my No Poo / Water Only predecessors a normal phase; the hair should look healthy and shiny afterwards
- realizing that the greasiness of the hair is coherent with the nutrition: the more cheat food (in my case non-vegan, very fat or sugar containing food or drinks), the more fat in my hair
Fails – what others recommend but really didn’t work for me
- finish the hair wash with cold water: didn’t change anything in the results
- cider vinegar hair rinse (one of my two tiny exceptions to put anything into my hair except water): the hair regreased even faster, no other effect
- putting coconut oil in the damp hair after washing (my second tiny exception 😉 ): the oil was visible until the next few hair washes and the hair looked very straggly, even though I only used very little oil on the hair ends
In the meantime I survived over three months of No Poo / Only Water and I do not have any intention to give up. After about ten weeks I felt that the changing phase was pretty much over, when the hair also stopped feeling greasy. Apparently the adjusting takes a little longer for straight, fast greasing hair than for dry and curly hair.
One thing is certain though: Giving up is not an option! 🙂
Here a few photos during the changing / adjusting time (real-life ones, since I didn’t take any special before and after pictures):