Confession: I can go days without shampooing.
No seriously! It’s not as bad as you think.
In fact, if you wash your hair without shampoo (using just water and a brush), you’ll be surprised by how low maintenance your hair becomes.
I’ve been doing it for a while now, and I can tell you:
- My hair never feels dry
- I don’t have to spend ages blow drying
- I have less frizz and flyaways
- It retains moisture well
- I don’t have to fight tangles
- And I can go longer without washing my hair
How long can you go without washing your hair?
Right now I can stretch up to 10 days!
Thanks to Lucy AitkenRead, beauty columnist for Cosmopolitan Magazine and author of the bestselling guide to giving up shampoos.
The Happy Hair Guide.
The Water Only Hair Washing Method (WO), also known as “No Poo Nirvana” allows you to rediscover your hair in its purest form.
Table Of Contents
- Benefits Of Washing Your Hair Without Shampoos (Using Just Water)
- The Water Only Hair Washing Method (Step By Step)
- But You’ll Have To Be Patient
- Tips for washing hair in hard water
- Your Turn
Think about it for a minute …
What do all these ingredients in shampoos do to your hair every day?
- Sulfates: Deplete natural oils from your hair & scalp
- Parabens: Confuse hormones in your body
- Sodium: Dries your scalp to make it itchy
- Alcohol: Can cause inflammation
- Petroleum: Blocks natural oils from penetrating your hair
Read: Is shampoo bad for your hair?
You get the drift. Right?
Shampoos take out all the goodness from your hair, and draws you into a never-ending cycle of washing, drying, straightening, and moisturizing to give you an illusion of healthy and shiny looking hair.
What happens if you don’t wash your hair with shampoo every day or every other day?
Apart from feeling a little extra greasy, it’s not a big deal unless you’re going on a date every day!
Here’s the thing …
Before Hans Schwarzkopf invented the first shampoo in 1927, women washed their hair differently.
They used water and a boar bristle brush. That’s it.
It wasn’t until 1957, when the first pH-balanced shampoo broke into commercials in magazines like Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar, that shampoos became mainstream.
The romantic images of feminine beauty and purity from the Breck Girls ads became all the craze, and women started to glorify shampoos as a must-have.
But let’s not fool ourselves.
The shampoo industry is a Billion dollar cash cow, and it will continue to sell you the illusion of CLEAN BEAUTIFUL hair every day.
Shampoos have become a modern-day convenience and an obsession for some.
No one has the time to read the small prints to see what’s hidden in them.
Essentially, you are just abusing your hair with chemicals, then using more chemical products to restore it back to health. You’re trapped in a never-ending cycle.
Ultimately it’s your scalp and your hair that suffers.
So let’s take a step back and think.
Does your hair really get that grimy and dirty every day that it needs a full on scrubbing with suds?
Unless you take a dip in a pool of mud, your hair doesn’t get dirty. It’s the sebum on your scalp that makes you cringe.
Let me explain …
Every time you shampoo your hair, the harsh sulfates in shampoos reset sebum production on your scalp. I call it the “Hard Reset” that sends the scalp into panic mode and disbalance.
You see, the scalp’s main job is to produce sebum that maintains the potential of hydrogen (pH). pH is essential as it defends your scalp against bacterial infection and it keeps your hair lubricated and healthy.
When shampoos disturb the pH balance, your scalp triggers its defense mechanism to over produce sebum and restore balance.
That’s why your hair gets greasy so fast after washing.
I want you to do an experiment.
Stop using shampoos for a few weeks and listen to your hair.
I am going to show you how to wash your hair without shampoos using just water. And I want you to feel the difference.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you should stop shampooing, let me entice you with the immediate benefits:
Benefits Of Washing Your Hair Without Shampoos (Using Just Water)
1. Cheap Thrills
Washing your hair with just water is a pure minimalistic act.
I call it the poo free hair care / no poo hair care.
Imagine traveling to absolutely anywhere, and not having to carry any hair products with you.
Festivals or impromptu sleepovers – no big deal! You are good to go.
2. Chemical-Free Hair Care
According to research by Bionsen – a natural deodorant company, the average woman puts a staggering 515 different synthetic chemicals on her body every single day!
Revealed… the 515 chemicals women put on their bodies every day
Ok, I am not saying you should pack your stuff and go and live in the jungle. But every little change helps. If you can stop washing your hair with shampoos and see positive results, who knows …
You might be tempted to do the same with all your other products, and go chemical-free.
3. Let Your Hair’s Natural Oil Work Its Magic
The water only washing regimen is more than enough to clean your hair from pollutants.
It eases the natural oil (sebum) distribution and lubricates your hair and scalp evenly.
Learn to appreciate the healthy influence of sebum on your hair. Although it feels gross when you think about it, your body produces it for a good reason. So learn to make sebum an ally for your hair rather than an enemy. The trick is to manage it properly.
Keep reading, and I will show you how to do it below.
When your hair feels well lubricated, you don’t get knots and tangles.
4. Say Bye To Those Filthy Knots And Tangles!
If you grab 2 pieces of hair fibers that are rough and dry and rub them together …
Their rough surfaces will cause friction, knots, and tangles.
Now lubricate these 2 hair fibers with some oil and rub them together.
What do you see?
They glide off each other instead of tangling.
In the same way, when your hair is properly lubricated with sebum, the fibers untangle themselves easily. You don’t need to fight with them every day!
So don’t let shampoos dry out your hair to cause friction. Once you get the hang of washing your hair without shampoos, you’ll notice you don’t have to spend time fighting those stubborn knots.
It saves you time, and your brush won’t look like a graveyard for your broken hair especially if your hair feels dry after washing.
5. It Makes Your Hair Resilient Against Heat Damage
A healthy layer of sebum works as a natural heat protectant.
See the illustration below:
You don’t need silicone based plastic-like products to envelope your hair as heat barriers. Sebum is the best natural hair conditioner that will do it for you.
And unlike heat protection sprays, sebum doesn’t bake and stick to your hair straightener plates to build residues.
6. Less Heat, Less Washing = Less Frizz
This is no doubt the most rewarding part of the journey.
By cutting down on unnecessary hair products, and keeping your hair care routine simple, you’ll find your hair behaves well.
You’ll find yourself spending less time styling your hair because:
- It feels more healthy
- It retains more moisture
- It becomes humidity resistant
It’s so much easier to work with second-day hair.
No more of the proverbial “Bad Hair Days.”
Do I have your attention now?
So let’s get cracking (I promise – No Apple Cider Vinegar or Baking Soda).
The Water Only Hair Washing Method (Step By Step)
The technique is super simple:
- Use warm water for your hair (not hot)
- Finish with a cold water rinse
- Towel Dry
Scritching is a deep soothing method that helps your scalp to loosen up and let go of excess dirt, oil, and dead skin cells that are trapped at the roots.
So before you wet your hair, sit down for a few minutes and do this:
Rub your fingers (not nails), in quick but gentle circular motions across your scalp.
Do this for at least 2 minutes.
If you’ve got long nails and you’re struggling, use this scalp massager.
(WARNING: This scalp massager can give you a head orgasm!)
Once you’ve covered all areas of your scalp, it’s time for the next step.
You can also use a a green tea tonic on your scalp to loosen dirt, stabilize sebum production, and clean up dead skin cells.
Preening pulls the oils from the base of your hair to distribute it across the length and ends.
To do this:
- Take a wide but thin section of your hair
- Place 2 fingers on either side of that section
- Start from the base of the roots
- Then gently pinch your fingers and glide them down
Here’s a good example of how to do it from the Just Primal Things blog:
Scritch & Preen – Washing hair with water only before and after results
3. Use A Boar Bristle Brush
Boar bristles have the same natural compound like your hair. Keratin.
And their porous structure allows them to soak up natural oils like sebum and gently release them as you brush along while retaining the excess.
By brushing your hair, the natural bristles gently swipe sebum away from your scalp to redistribute it to the dryer parts of your hair for a more natural-looking sheen.
Moreover, it removes loose hairs, dust, and lint without friction, therefore reducing hair breakage.
It’s the best way to clean your scalp without shampoo or water.
It works as good as a wash, and it’s so therapeutic!
4. Use Warm Water
You should avoid washing your hair with hot water.
Because hot water:
- Weakens your roots
- Causes hair loss
- Opens the cuticles
- And makes your hair dry
Washing hair with cold water, on the other hand, doesn’t do enough to melt out excess oils and dirt.
That’s why you should stick to the middle with warm water. It does enough to unclog dirt and melt away all the excess oil that makes your hair greasy.
Read: What’s the best way to wash your hair – Hot or cold?
5. Rinse Your Hair With Cold Water
To finish off, rinse or wash your hair with cold water to shut the cuticles and make your hair smooth on the outside.
Washing hair in cold water benefits:
“A cool hair rinse removes excess product without stripping away all the moisturizing ingredients. (Curly-haired ladies know that more moisture equals less frizz, too.) It will also close down the cuticle cells, which has two benefits. For one, it locks those ingredients and water inside the hair strand. And when the cuticle layer is closed, the cells lay more smoothly, which makes light reflect better off the hair. More reflection equals more shine.”
Says Kally Papantoniou, M.D., a dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC. Source: Self.com
By closing the cuticles and the pores on your scalp, cold water also seals in moisture and prevents dirt from entering and accumulating.
Water temperature can affect how good your hair looks after washing.
- Warm water opens the hair cuticles to dissolves dirt and oils
- Cold water shuts the hair cuticles to lock in moisture and lock out dirt
6. Dry Your Hair With A Microfiber Towel
To keep your hair frizz-free, the towel you use after coming out of the shower matters.
I use a microfiber towel as it creates less friction and therefore works less frizz into my hair.
Here’s why it works …
Microfibers contain a single denier or less, and they are 100 times finer than the human hair. With around 200,000 fibers per square inch, a microfiber towel creates a much larger surface to absorb moisture.
As a result, patting or simply wrapping it around for 10 minutes will dry your hair faster without any effort.
You don’t even need to rub it to extract water which often causes hair breakage.
And the best part?
They last much longer than your cotton towels. Up to 500 washes!
Voila! The best way to wash your hair without shampoos in simple steps.
Although it can take up to 4 weeks for your hair to adjust to the No Poo Water Only (WO) method, the journey is well worth it.
But You’ll Have To Be Patient
A word of warning here …
The no poo transition period can be a bit tricky.
Your hair will feel greasy in the beginning. It’s normal. Don’t freak out.
Trust the process.
According to dermatologists, the scalp skin stops its production of sebum after 5-7 days of not washing. So you have to give it the time to adjust.
Here are some tips to help you along with your transition:
- Avoid dry shampoos
- Avoid greasy hair products
- Avoid touching your hair a lot (it gets more greasy)
- Do not use oils in that period
- Do low maintenance hairstyles (updos) to hide the greasiness
Keep it simple and frugal.
But don’t go harsh on yourself. If you do need to wash your hair for a special occasion, by all means, do it.
I recommend you use the DevaCurl No Poo shampoo (Sulfate-free). It will not disrupt your scalp and also maintain a good pH balance.
If you do struggle with the process …
Instead of kicking out shampoos, you can train your hair to adjust.
Let me show you how …
First, replace your shampoo with a sulfate-free one like I mentioned above. At least this will set you on the good track.
- Week 1 – 2: Skip 1 shampoo each week
- Week 2 – 4: Skip 2 shampoos each week
Do it gradually until you find the sweet spot where your hair is not crying out for chemicals anymore.
Another word of advice:
When you wash your hair with just water, you want to make sure your source of water is good, and it’s not doing a number on you.
Tips for washing hair in hard water
The water that comes out of my tap is horrendous.
The only good thing about hard water is that it neutralizes shampoos with its positively charged minerals.
Otherwise, it leaves residues on your scalp and hair just like the white slimy stuff you see around your faucets.
Now if you’ve been suffering from an extremely greasy scalp, your water may be the problem.
Here’s why …
Hard water makes your hair greasy by leaving mineral deposits that shampoos can’t wash away. Over time, they mix up with sebum to make a sticky paste that attracts dirt and dust.
These sticky residues can also block the pores on your scalp to cause hair loss or prevent healthy hair growth.
Let me help you with a few tips …
Do a test to see how bad your water is; then you can take the right steps.
Use a hard water test kit. It works in 15 seconds to tell you how bad your water is.
If it’s bad, you have a few options:
- Use the Malibu C Vitamin Crystal gels on your hair weekly.
- Get a T3 shower filter.
- Boil your water before you use it.
- More tips for washing your hair in hard water.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have no choice but to live with hard water. But don’t let this get in your way for a shampoo free hair care journey.
The water only hair washing method is an incredibly simple, effective, and rewarding experience.
It helps to stabilize sebum production, lets you go more days not washing your hair, and keeps you away from toxic chemicals.
So there you have it.
The simplest and natural way to wash your hair without shampoo – using just water and a boar bristle brush.
Are you up for this challenge?
So let’s get started with your happy chemical-free hair care journey.