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