No Poo Only Water

No Poo: How I Wash my Hair with Water Only

For 2018’s Lent period I gave up shampoo  – and kept going beyond Easter. I’ve been shampoo-free for more than half a year now and love it!

My No Poo adventure started when I was searching for 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 after the first use and is pretty inconvenient for travel), and creating my DIY-shampoo with ingredients I don’t know how they will affect my hair (baking soda? lemon? nope.), these alternatives weren’t for me. The combination of me not being a chemist and being somewhat lazy lead me to the ultimate No Poo version: Water Only.

In this post I write about my personal No Poo / Water Only experiences. I hope to inspire and help you going No Poo by sharing my own story. As you cannot really go wrong with the No Poo / Water Only method, you can experiment a little until you find your own personal routine.

No Poo Only Water Hairdresser

My Main Reasons to Try the No Poo / Water Only Method

  • waste prevention, especially plastic
  • saving money
  • less luggage while traveling
  • minimalist lifestyle
  • no more planning when to wash my hair (this is a huge thing for most women 😀 )

My Starting Point Before No Poo / Water Only

  • hair: very fine, straight, shoulder-length, not colored
  • shampoo: organic, plant-based, natural
  • hair wash frequency: every 2-3 days, hair got greasy very fast
  • styling products: none
  • hair care: deep conditioner and overnight coconut oil hair mask every now and then

The Start

I started cold turkey and simply quit putting anything into my hair except water. This means no shampoo, no conditioner, no hair mask, no hairspray, no styling gel, no coloring, no dry shampoo whatsoever.

Not gonna lie, going from 100 to 0 means having to walk around with greasy hair for a few weeks until it regulates itself. This is of course much easier doable when you’re e.g. on vacation, in between jobs, or off sick. But even if you have to go to work or school every day, you can get the No Poo / Only Water method started. You just do the transition more slowly by washing your hair with e.g. healing clay instead of shampoo first, and then extend the hair wash frequency and cut down the times you use the healing clay.

The first week of the cold turkey transition is hard, then it gets already better. I took advantage of the fact that I was an expat and had some time off work to do the adjusting phase, and could easily just use a hat when I left the house. For me, the changing phase was pretty much over after about ten weeks, when my hair stopped feeling greasy at all. Apparently the adjusting takes a little longer for straight, fast greasing hair than for curly and overall dry hair.

  • cold start: I quit using everything except water for my hair from one day to the next
  • first hair wash without shampoo took much getting used to, but the following hair washes felt already normal
  • I maintained the hair wash frequency of 2-3 days during the transition
  • during the first few days I noticed wax-like residues on the roots (vanished after about a week)
  • emergency helpers: hats and buns; plus thoroughly brushing the hair helps miraculously

My No Poo / Water Only Hair Wash Routine

  • I wash my hair when it gets greasy, which is about every 3-4 days at the moment
  • I brush from all sides before the hair wash, in order to distribute the sebum from the roots into the hair
  • I wash with warm water: same process of washing as before, only without shampoo (I gently massage the scalp as if I would soap my hair, only with running water)
  • washing time: about 5-10 minutes
  • at the end I rinse my hair with cold water (not easy to do but very worth it)
  • drying: I dry my hair with a towel, then air-dry or blow-dry it
  • during and after the drying I brush my hair thoroughly

No Poo Only Water Hairbrushes

Brush and Brush Cleaning

Brushing the hair got so much more important than it was before – it is like the only hair care together with the washing. The sebum, our hair’s natural oil, actually nourishes and protects our hair. By brushing, we distribute the sebum from the hairline to the ends and at the same time free our scalp from the excess sebum.

  • 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 when I go out or refresh myself
  • brushing thoroughly: from the roots to the ends, to distribute the sebum in the hair; I brush for about 2-3 minutes / 100 brush strokes, in different directions and I part my hair, to reach as many of the roots as possible
  • cleaning: 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 / Tips

  • the hair is much easier to comb, especially when wet
  • much less hair loss (no more hair in bed, on the floor, or in the shower drain)
  • no more flyaway hair after the first couple of weeks
  • my hair feels stronger, thicker and looks healthier
  • for the first time I got volume
  • the hair reflects my diet now: the more cheat food (in my case non-vegan, very fat or sugar containing food or drinks), the quicker my hair gets greasy
  • contrary to expectations, the hair doesn’t smell at all; it simply smells of nothing
  • the outcome of the No Poo method depends also on the tap water that is available: e.g. in Geneva, Switzerland, where I live, the water is relatively chalky, therefore the hair tends to be a bit duller; when I travelled to Melbourne, Australia, where the water is chlorinated, my hair was generally softer and shinier

Considering the length of this post, the No Poo method seems pretty complicated to follow – when in reality it totally isn’t! Here’s the quick guide:

  • wash your hair like before, just without shampoo
  • brush your hair thoroughly every now and then

That’s all basically!

Please leave a comment if you want to share your own No Poo experiences or if you have any questions. 🙂

This post is also available in German. //
Diesen Post gibt’s auch auf Deutsch.

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