Water Washing, Week 1

I sort-of-accidentally decided to try the whole not-shampooing thing. I don’t mean the baking-soda-and-ACV “no poo” thing (which incidentally is a thoroughly terrible idea),  I mean like, otters groom themselves to keep their fur fluffy using their paws and water (and their lives depend on it), so humans should be able to do the same, right?

Since I went through some sort of weird second puberty about 5 years ago (that’s definitely misusing the word but I mean I had pretty dramatic/noticeable hormonal changes) my hair has been pretty low-maintenance. Usually I wash my hair with whatever shampoo, use whatever conditioner, add some product or other to the ends, let it air dry, and end up with pretty decent natural waves. The only problem is, my scalp is super oily, like wash-at-night-oily-by-next-morning oily. If I wash my hair at night I pretty much have to use dry shampoo before I go to sleep and/or in the morning. Over the last year I’ve tried stretching the time between washes to 2 or 3 days (mostly out of necessity/a desire for 10 more minutes of sleep) for weeks/months at a time without any noticeable changes.

This summer, I started working out every Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Since I don’t need to be out of the house much, I thought it’d be a good time to try stretching out my hair washes, and planned to only wash my hair on workout days. Having oily hair on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday didn’t bother me, but by Sunday (2 days after washing) I really wanted to wash my hair so I almost did…but once I was in the shower I felt kind of giving up so easily so I compromised and washed with just hot water.

I let my hair air dry like normal, and while it more or less still looked the same, for the first time in years, my hair was frizzy. I actually didn’t look in the mirror so I don’t know how visible said frizz was, but I didn’t like the feel of it – this used to be one of my main hair issues and I went through plenty of John Frieda Frizz-Ease Serum trying to slick it down (ew). Somehow despite the frizz I thought it might be a good idea to try this hot-water-only washing, since my hair did feel reasonably cleaner. A quick Google search turned up Ariana’s glorious hair over at Paris to Go (and Audley’s) which convinced me to give water-only washing a go.

Day 0: The last time I washed my hair. I used a DevaCurl Low-Poo shampoo that I got as a free sample from Ulta that I felt didn’t get my hair totally clean. Retrospectively, if I had planned on cutting out shampoo after this last wash I would have used a clarifying shampoo.

Day 1 and 2: All that text up there.

Day 3: Hot water wash after working out. Felt okay, a bit stringy but not awful. Washing this way takes a little more physical effort which is usually not an issue, but today I really didn’t want to exert because my arms were tired.

Day 4:  Wanted to skip washing but my hair felt gross when I woke up so I washed it with hot water and let it air dry. Frizzy again, and still stringy. Ordered a 100% boar-bristle brush because trying to move sebum from my roots to ends with my fingers does not seem practical.

Day 5: Hot water wash after working out. I can feel the waxy coating on my hair and on my fingers. It feels damp even after air-drying for a couple of hours but looks surprisingly okay.

Photo on 6-29-16 at 4.08 PM #2
I think my hair might have still been a little damp when I took this picture. Sort of cheating because I’m not showing the oiliest part i.e. my scalp/roots.

Day 6: Decided I’m not going to try to skip hair-washing days for now. Hair definitely feels heavier, and I can feel more sebum further down the hair shaft. Less frizz than the previous few days, probably secondary to said sebum. Most of my hair still feels pretty sticky/oily close to the scalp, but interestingly enough there’s one section of hair (what would be bangs if I had bangs – the shortest section on the left side)  that feels almost normal (i.e. like I had shampooed and conditioned) from root to tip.

Day 7: After showering,  I keep wanting to put my hair up in a bun to keep it away from my petroleum-jelly-covered face, only to realize that it’s still wet. The part right around my face actually feels normal, which might be because 1. I tend to play with the hair there, which mostly consists of running my fingers through it from root to tip (thus spreading sebum), or 2. because it’s getting slightly washed at the roots when I wash my face. In any case, the scalp still looks/feels pretty stringy.

At least I don’t have dandruff?


Photo on 7-1-16 at 8.50 PM
Also kind of stringy, but not super obvious.

Overall, I’m slightly (pleasantly) surprised by how well the hot-water-washing works, although I am still washing my hair every day, just not with shampoo. The boar-bristle brush I ordered is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to trying that out. I’m impatient either for something magical to happen or for my hair to congeal into one giant protein-keratin blob so I can give up and say I gave it a fair trial*, but I’m satisfied enough with my current results to keep going for now.

*I tried the baking soda/ACV thing once in high school for a couple of weeks. It did not work for me, and now I’m glad it didn’t.


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