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“I don’t wash my hair.” Last week, some people from Minnesota were trying to explain the concept of not taxing “necessities” to people from Illinois, which led to a conversation about what a necessity is. Somebody said that shampoo doesn’t have to be a necessity. To which I responded with the above quote. Everyone stared at me in shock, but it’s true. I have stopped washing my hair. And I’ve moved past just the “no poo” definition of not washing. I just straight up don’t put anything in my hair, a practice called “Water Washing.”
Many women have found that baking soda shampoo eventually damages their hair. It worked well for me for months, but then I, too, started to see signs of damage. My ends were dry and scraggly. My hair was difficult to brush through. There seemed to be a weird build up. This occurred slowly enough, though, that I didn’t really notice there was much of a problem. I mean, it’s not like my hair ever looked that great before. I spent the summer working in a factory, with my hair braided and tied up tight. I decided to take this opportunity to stop washing my hair, just a baking soda shampoo once a week. It couldn’t make my hair that much worse, could it? But by the end of the summer, I just had this gross build up I couldn’t get rid of.
Right before school started, I got a haircut and I let them wash my hair. In preparation for the haircut, I had washed my hair multiple times with baking soda, and it was better, but still a little gunky and a lot damaged. After the wash and removal of damaged hair, my hair was so light and soft! It was amazing! Clearly there was an issue with using my baking soda shampoo, even with the apple cider vinegar rinse.
I went off to school and, for fun, decided to see how long I could go without washing my hair. I made it 3 weeks before my hair really needed a wash! Just giving myself a scalp massage in the shower was enough. It’s been a month and a half, and my hair has settled into a pattern of needing a wash about every two weeks. I have tried the baking soda shampoo again, and it made my hair very dry and in need of oils added to the end. So instead I’ve been washing with honey. More on that later. Update: After just 3 months water washing, I am already down to needing a wash less than once a month!
Finally, Hair Health
Since I stopped washing my hair, my hair’s health has been amazing. I have never seen it act like this so long after a hair cut. It is growing fast, it is soft, the ends are hydrated. If you had seen my hair before, you would understand how amazing hydrated ends are for me! I am 22 years old, and I have never seen my ends look or feel this good 6 weeks after a hair cut. Occasionally I have to apply some oil to the tips, but overall the health of my hair has increased exponentially. It is bright and clear and I have never been so happy with it before. You, too, can have happy, healthy hair that you can love, and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg! I calculated it, and it will cost me less than $4 a year to maintain my current hair routine. Less if I can even further reduce washings.
The Water Washing Method
How do you get to this point of hair bliss? Well, it’s not easy. Just remind yourself about the hair health and the huge economic benefits of no hair products and shorter showers. If I’m in a hurry, I can be in and out of the shower in 3 minutes because I don’t do anything with my hair other than scrub a bit. Water washing is exactly what it sounds like: you don’t wash your hair with anything other than the shower water. Occasionally you may use some natural shampoo, but for the most part, you just let your hair do its thing. However, as you would expect, to get to this point, there is a transition period. If you are able to tie your hair up everyday, I recommend doing that for your transition period. Put it in braids, or under a scarf. Whatever you need to make you comfortable with how your hair is. Because my hair was braided and then twisted up into a bun, no one had any idea what my hair looked like through this process.
Let your hair get gross. Your oil production will not reduce if you strip oils from your scalp every time your hair gets a little oily. Do wash it with a gentle shampoo if needed, or baking soda if you really need to remove build up. In her book, Mommypotamus has a recipe for a hair detox that I have heard is great for transition periods. Be Patient. I cannot recommend this enough. Something very valuable that I have notice is that about a week after shampooing, my hair gets rather gross. It is really tempting to shampoo it. DON’T! If I continue to let it go, after just a day or two of gross, everything balances out and my hair looks and feels good for weeks. This is a newer development, but one to keep an eye out for! Unless you have an interview or big social event, I highly recommend waiting it out for a few days.
Pamper yourself with a final cleaning. I did this transition for a whole summer, and my hair was out of control by the end. I got a hair cut and thorough wash, leaving my hair clear and clean for the first time in a long time. The removal of that build up and damage let me start fresh and feel good about my hair. It finally made my hair look good and allowed me to go weeks without a wash with no adverse appearance effects. I now only need a simple homemade shampoo to cut through weeks of oil and build up. In other words, I don’t really have any.
Brush smart. Don’t damage your hair. One thing that has really helped me is not brushing anymore when my hair is wet. Use a brush that is gentle on hair and helps distribute oils throughout. A boar bristle brush is great for this. Allowing these oils to coat the whole hair, down to the tip, is what has made my hair so healthy!
Treat it when you need. I have noticed that when my hair is out of balance (happens less and less as I progress in my water washing), my ends are very dry regardless of what my scalp is feeling. If this happens to you, so not hesitate to use your favorite conditioning treatment or oils on your hair. However, the best way to combat dry ends is to not strip oils from your scalp. When I do this, I notice the difference in my ends by the next day, and I always have to add a conditioning oil.
Honey shampoo. When I do need a wash, I use honey shampoo. It’s so easy and I use little enough that I just make it up before my shower. A 1:2 ratio of raw honey to water is all you need, about 2-3 tablespoons total based in your hair length. As you can see in the image, I marked lines on a tiny container for where the honey should be filled to and where the water should be filled to. My “brave bot” domino is there for size comparison. I also add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to the mix for hair health. (Learn about essential oils here) Mix up, apply and work into hair while in shower, and rinse out! Super easy. Follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse (diluted) on your ends. This leaves my hair very soft. It doesn’t always cut through everything, so I may decide to alternate with baking soda. It is important for you to experiment and find what your hair likes for these occasional washes, which hopefully will begin to happen less and less frequently. For more shampoo ideas, check out Mommypotamus’s book.
What do you think? Are you brave enough to even chuck the “no poo”? Women (and men) seem to use shampoo as a safety net, insisting they could never go without. I was there just over a year ago, and now I am water washing! I challenge you to try it out!
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