Water Only No Poo (Washing Hair w/ Water Only): The reWild Side

Updated: May 18, 2020

The No Poo Method - What's Working and What Isn't Thanks for joining me on The reWild Side. Your humanity is welcome here! (First of all, I want to say I despise the term "no poo" but I'm using it because that's what we've all decided to call not using chemicals on our heads.) I went no poo in February riiiight before the world basically shut down due to the corona virus. Genius move, right? No poo in the time of COVID!

It's the perfect time to do the little things that remind of us of our innate sovereignty, even as we're quarantined. Okay, so I haven't used any shampoo at all for more than 3 months. And...? I still don't have a verdict! For context, this is me: I've got long blond/light brown hair that's pretty straight with just a bit of a wave in that back. It's thin strand by strand but thick altogether (so basically thin hairs but a lot of them). I've had a lot of problems in the past with snarls and tangles. I've even been charged extra at the hair salon because I have so much hair and it tangles so easily. Why No Poo (Also...why water only?)? I've been using natural shampoos for the past few years and I was never all that satisfied with how my hair felt. Not only that, but finding something that is organic, all natural, sustainably made here in the U.S. and doesn't contribute to plastic waste...not the easiest. So I thought, I'm going to ditch the shampoo and conditioner. Humans existed long before shampoo bottles did. I read, and read and read and was convinced that this was possible. Not only that but that but some said with a water only regimen their hair was better than ever. Well, it's turned out to be a lot trickier than I thought it would be. How Am I Making No Poo Happen? I totally skipped even attempting to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I'd read too many horror stories about people messing up the PH of their scalp and drying their hair all out. My plan was to do water only with the occasional herbal rinse with apple cider vinegar made myself. Why water only? Because I believe in the beauty of being human! And in theory, we should be able to "wash" our hair with just water and not have a full on greasy head...in theory. lol. So, let me tell you about my "no poo" adventure. No Poo (Water Only) 2 Weeks In The first two weeks were actually not that bad. Was my hair greasy? Yeah, at first (hence, the braid) But my hair looked better than I expected it to (though you'll later find out why things weren't exactly what they seemed). It was full of body and was suddenly a lot easier to comb through. Below are the things I started off doing but then ditched.

Scritching and preening (and why I'm not a fan) - This is a technique where you basically give your scalp a good massage daily and then drag the oil on the top of your head down toward the ends of your hair. Google it for more info. I started doing this with some success. It did seem to make my hair less greasy BUT I felt like it took FOREVER to do. With such long thick (yet thin) hair my arms would be burning by the end of scritching and preening every night. It just didn't seem worth it. So, I'm no longer preening but I do still scritch (massage) my head. Boar's hair brush (and again, why I'm not a fan) - I'm an 8 year vegetarian/would be vegan if it weren't for the occasional free range organic egg. Buying a brush made of boar's hair when I have no idea how that boar was treated or if the rest of his body was used in sustainable ways is a no go for me. I also read that they smell very much like a boar. I love boars. But I don't want to smell them every time I brush my hair.

Calendula rinse (why I'm an undecided fan): I steeped a handful of calendula, let it sit for a few hours and then strained. I then washed my hair with water (basically just scrubbed my scalp with my fingers under warm water) and then poured this rinse over my head. It smelled wonderful and my hair felt nice and soft afterward, but this rinse somehow seemed to make it actually greasier. Chamomile rinse (again, why I'm an undecided fan): This is a better rinse for blonde hair. I basically did the exact same thing as above with the exact same results. Apple Cider Vinegar: I've used this one for years. It's great for detangling and leaving a shine, but for some reason I really felt that it left my hair greasier than it would have been with water only. Verdict: Nothing I tried actually seemed to help and YET, my hair didn't look that bad just being "washed" with water. It actually looked pretty great. Had tons of volume and was so easy to comb. Usually I'd wash my hair every other day at leas, but "washing" it (really scrubbing your scalp under warm water) regularly with water a couple of times a week seemed to be working pretty great. No Poo - A Month In Remember how I said my hair looked pretty great? Yeah, I think that would have been an ongoing thing if I didn't have very HARD WATER. (Not trying to hurt your eyes' ears here, but really want to point like 17 fingers at these two words). Turns out the hard water deposits were really just making themselves at home in my hair. Which means my hair took on this weird almost sticky texture. And left a greyish residue on my brush. Though, it did have body, which makes it look pretty okay in this pic.

When I realized what was happening, I tried remedying my situation in a few ways. I tried an applesauce hair mask to remove the residue: Basically boil/bake or insta pot a chopped up organic apple until it's soft. Then smash it all up and apply it to your hair. Leave for a 5 minutes or so, then rinse. (Or use plain, no sugar or preservatives added apple sauce.) At first, I thought this mask was a miracle worker -- yes it left clumps of apple in my hair -- BUT that was a small price to pay because it also cut through the hard water build up and my hair was once again light and clean feeling. Unfortunately, the ends were also pretty dry. I used this mask a few more times but ditched it because I didn't like how drying it felt. Then, I tried an organic, free range, local egg mask. And I basically got the same results.

Hair looked pretty clean and great but the texture was off and it felt dry. So...yep. I'm realizing that I need to buy a water softener...asap.

No Poo (Water Only) 3 Months In: I have no idea what I'm doing with my hair right now guys, I know that's maybe not what you're looking for. But I'm in a sort of hair purgatory. As the photo below nicely highlights. I'm about to move so haven't bought a soft-water filter. I'm still doing water only, so I'm still having build up. My plan right now is to do an apple or egg yolk mask once or twice a month until I can get a water softener installed. THE GOOD NEWS: Is that my hair is way less greasy than it was previously. I can easily go a week without "washing" it (with water only) and it doesn't look that greasy. So that's cool. ALSO. MORE GOOD NEWS. My hair is growing super fast. I'd say twice as fast as it usually does. Have no idea why this is. The scalp massages? Maybe it's super happy to have its natural oils back? Maybe it needed a little detox and now it's growing better than ever? Idk! But it's awesome.

In Conclusion: 3 Months Washing w/ Water Only No Poo Pros: 1) I now know my real hair. And I like it! I've realized my hair isn't actually the hair I thought it was. It's not the tangly, static electricity high maintenance hair the beauty industry led me to believe it was. And it's more wavy than I thought it was. I realized that duh it's the stripping away of its oil that make it so snarly. Basically shampooing takes your natural oils off and conditioner puts fake ones back on. Just yuck. I'm so done with this song and dance where we mimic nature, while pillaging her for the resources to mimic her.

2) My hair is growing faster than it has since my early 20s. 3) I'm creating virtually no waste with my hair routine.

4) Contrary to what you might believe, my hair smells good. I think this may have something to do with diet. Either way, we're taught that we have to use harsh chemicals to be "clean" and it's just not true. 5) I feel empowered, like I always do when I get to no my body more intimately. Cons: 1) Still don't feel like I've found a routine that leaves me consistently happy. 2) Still struggling with the hard water.

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