my new hair washing method: part two

Okie doke, after a bit of a delay, I am ready to share more about my new hair washing method!  Read part one in this series, here.

After much research, many failed attempts at “no ‘poo washing”, and a lot of procrastinating, I finally came to a hair washing method that may work for me! Before I share those details, let me quickly summarize why I decided to forgo traditional shampoos.

  1. They are pricey.
  2. I have a sensitivity to smell and fragrance, and all commercial shampoos have something that tends to give me migraines.
  3. The “natural” shampoos either don’t work as well as I want, cost too much, or smell weird.
  4. I don’t like the idea of using products that are not good for me.
  5. I hate washing and rinsing my hair.

My journey to low risk hair washing started back in 2011, when I experimented with baking soda as a cleanser and vinegar as a conditioner.  Let me tell you, it was TERRIBLE.  My water was hard, so the baking soda didn’t rinse well at all, and I was left with a gritty and stick scalp.  Fast forward to 2017, and I am tired of how I need to care for my hair.  Since I stopped using heat tools, hair products, and traditional shampoos and conditioners, I am having to relearn how to care for my curly hair.  Previously I had been washing it with an eco-friendly liquid soap but it would sometimes make my hair dry and I didn’t like having to rinse it from my curls.

I looked into various other hair washing methods, but most of them seemed to work best for straight hair that was thinner than mine.  Then I came across a bunch of blogs talking about washing curly, thick hair with only WATER! My first thought was “there is literally no way this will work!” But I had no reason not to try this, so on January 10, I began this crazy experiment.

The details:
Water only washing involves NO soaps, shampoos, or anything, besides water. The scalp naturally produces waxy oils that can be gently cleansed away by massaging the scalp and then distributing them through wet hair.  This acts as a moisturizer and de-frizzer. The goal is to let the scalp settle down and stop overproducing oils due to being stripped from traditional hair washing.  Our scalps naturally produce oil, which we wash away, so the scalp tries to overcompensate by producing more and more oil.  My goal with this experiment was two fold: wash my hair less often (but still wet the curls for definition) and get the oiliness under control.  The way to wash with water only is similar to shampoo washing, but obviously with no product. On days that I washed, I would wet my hair and scalp with hot water, then massage my scalp with the pads of my fingers, not the tips or my nails (the goal is to stimulate the scalp, not to scratch it). I did this over my whole scalp, and then ran my hands down my hair all the way to the roots.  This process took about 5-10 minutes.

Here are my notes from the start of this process.  Previously, I was washing with my usual liquid soap but was trying to extend the time between washes.  It didn’t go well, so I decided to wash with soap once more before starting this experiment.

January 10: washed with regular soap; rinsed scalp with vinegar to remove any buildup

January 11: washed with water only (massaged scalp as if washing with soap); realized later I should have waited between “washes” so as not to overstimulate oil production;  wore hair down; scalp and hair felt good; skipped nightly hair brushing

January 12: hair feels soft in the morning; roots look shiny but not oily; wore hair up in a flexi clip ponytail; didn’t brush hair at night

January 13: hair looks fine but roots are pretty slick; wet hair in the shower and scrunch dried curls

January 14: washed with only water; looks much less oily and dirty once dried; wore hair down and curls were full and well defined; towards the end of the day my hairline felt oily and stringy possibly due to wearing a head covering all day

January 15: very oily roots and about 6 inches down my hair; slept with hair in a braid

January 16: washed with water; curls well defined and full; scalp and roots feel cleaner but still oily

January 17: rinsed scalp again with hot water because roots felt matted; wore hair down with a covering; slept with hair in a braid

January 18: wet hair in the morning and wore it down; roots were a bit stringy; brushed hair before bed and slept in braid

January 19: stringy and oily roots; kept hair in a braid all day

January 20: oiliness spreading to hair as well as scalp; wet hair for curl definition and wore it down; slept with hair in a braid

January 21: washed with water; hair felt VERY oily after washing; rinsed scalp again later in the day but still felt dirty; scalp has a lot of buildup; slept with hair in a braid

January 22: scalp and hair feeling dirty, so rinsed with HOT water and then vinegar; roots still oily but not as bad; brushed hair before bed and slept with it in a braid

How I feel so far in the experiment:
At the start I was really excited to do this and it seemed to be working well!  I didn’t believe that there would be much oil from my scalp produced in the first water wash, but there was.  Around January 15 I started getting frustrated and have felt that way since.  I mean, I guess I expected better and faster results but I should know otherwise.  In my research I read that switching from any type of cleanser or shampoo takes time for the scalp to adjust, sometimes a few weeks or months.  I think I need to teach myself that oiliness does not mean dirtiness.  Even though I have had days of feeling really gross and dirty, I am going to keep at it.  My goal is to wash once every 7 days, then get down to once every 14 days.  Presently I am between 3-4 days per wash.

Here are some photos taken on January 23 (today).  I did not wash or even style my hair; I literally got out of bed and unbraided it.

Notes:

  • I made sure my hair was detangled before washing
  • After water washing, my hands were quite oily so I made sure to wash them with soap before finishing my shower
  • I found that braiding my hair loosely before bed helped control the tangles, frizz, and the oiliness of my scalp
  • I should not have washed my hair with water on day two; instead I should have waited to see how long it took for my scalp to feel oily and then wash on that day
  • Skipping the nightly brushing was not a good idea!  I think it contributed to the really oily and gross days
  • Vinegar rinses were essential to me!  They helped prolong the time between washes and removed any buildup on my scalp (we have softened water which may have contributed to the build up)
  • I wore a head covering many days which may also have contributed to the oiliness and matted look of my roots

 

About Christina

20-something; rural dwelling; wife to David; homeowner; pretty good cook; wearer of skirts; friend to all cats.

14 comments on “my new hair washing method: part two

  1. Hi,
    I appreciate hearing of your attempts to decreased/eliminate shampoo. I’ve heard of some of these things – the no poo washing, for instance, and tried it once but quit after a few days and too much oiliness. I’m sure our pioneer ancestors did not shampoo every day or two, so I can’t help but wonder what they did, and am interested in hearing about attempts to get away from so much washing with chemicals.
    I also read your article about spending $2.00 a month on soap etc. And I thought the length of your hair in the photo looked lovely – as did your pixie cut. It looks lovely long, too – you have great hair! – but I am a bit mystified. For someone who describes herself as a minimalist (or words to that effect) re hair care, why not go shorter again? Would that not be easier? With shoulder length hair myself, I look on with envy at my husband washing, brushing, and leaving alone his short hair. I would go that route myself if it suited me. Sadly, it doesn’t – but it does suit you very well, and would seem a much easier hair routine. Just curious!
    Ann

    • Thanks for the comment! In regards to my short hair: I did like it, and it was easy to care for but I was ready for a change. Part of the reason I cut it short in the first place was because I didn’t know how to care for it long. I thought I needed traditional shampoos, conditioner, styling products, etc, and that seemed like more work than it was worth.

      But when I decided to grow it out again I decided to simplify my hair care.

      Hopefully that makes sense!

  2. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I have long, thin hair that gets greasy toward the later afternoon part of the day, and my bangs get really greasy too. I have been thinking about washing my hair differently, but am not sure which method to try. I hope you keep posting about your progress because I am interested in trying something new.

    Love,
    Ashley

    • It worked really well until I started growing my hair. The bar didn’t rinse as well as it did when my hair was short, so I stopped using it. We have hard water that soften but there are still trace amounts of minerals, which was making it harder to rinse.

      I still use the bar soap for my body and face though!

  3. This is an interesting idea to me! My hair is so dry all the time, and doesn’t get oily, even when I go days without washing. It will look stringy, but it won’t be oily per se. My curls aren’t what they once were, possibly due to thinning hair (thyroid issues that were undetected for YEARS) and damage due to heat product/tools/hair dye. Was your hair oily prior to this? Are you going to continue doing this (if you addressed this, I apologize – I’m in a mental fog right now haha). Also, have you considered making a dry shampoo? I have seen people use cornstarch, cocoa powder, etc. and a powder brush? I mean, if you’re conscious about the oiliness you’re experiencing that is.

    • Hi Amber, my scalp would get oily and I needed to wash it every day. But for the last couple years I was training it to adjust to every other day washing, and eventually once every three days (which is where I was before the water only washing).

      I have heard of various dry shampoos but they didn’t appeal to me because it is something I would have to contasntly make it keep in stock. Plus, my hair is thick and crazy so I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to distribute a dry product!

      I am definetly going to continue water only washing for now. I have read that some people can get their scalp to adjust in a couple weeks, but for others it takes a few months.

      • I realized after I typed up that novel that I could have just messaged you on Facebook lol! I’m wondering if water-only would help my hair to not be so dang dry!

        • Not a problem:)

          I think this water only washing method could help with your hair being dry since you would be distributing the natural oils.

  4. You said you slowly adjusted your hair to being washed every other day when you were washing it every day because it got oily. How did you adjust it? Did you just go a couple weeks by washing it every day and kept on using your same hair products?

    • Yes, all I did to get my scalp adjusted to less washings was just to wash it less with my usual soap.

      On day one I would wash it as usual, but then skip a wash te next day. I repeated that pattern for a few weeks (I can’t remember exactly how long) and my scalp slowly got used to it.

      Since I was washing and stripping my scalp every day, it had tried to overcompensate for being stripped by producing MORE oil! By washing it every other day my scalp was able to regulate the amount of oil it produced since it wasn’t in “shock” or overdrive everyday.

      Does that make sense?

      From there I went two days between washes, then three, still using my regular soap.

  5. I have very oily hair naturally and tried doing just water for a month once and it was awful for me. I was literally dripping in oil on my head and my pillowcase turned yellow. It was really nasty (plus I sweat more than the normal woman…even more than my own husband). I always search for natural products that are good for helping my hair and have found two that don’t have bad smells (I feel the same way about such things) and such.

    Anyway, I am glad you are enjoying this journey!!!

    • I find it interesting how he sane methods or alternative products work differently on every person. Thankfully my hair has not become unbearable yet!

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