Spoiler: I’m back to conventional washing entirely.
Day 29: Water-only wash. (Fourth day after last full wash, though I dry-shampooed yesterday.) Hair was definitely oily before washing; tried water-only washing and felt that the results were acceptable for one more day. My hair does feel fuller than it would if I shampooed, but the tradeoff is that it feels simultaneously stiff and frizzy and has a sort of dull shine rather than looking glossy.
Day 30: Shampoo wash. (Fifth day after last full wash, one day after water wash.) After going back to shampoo, water-only was really a letdown. Washed with conventional Pantene shampoo, conditioned with SheaMoisture silicone-free conditioner, and used Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It before air-drying. Hair feels much thinner and lighter than it did after water-washing. I’m used to being able to wind my hair up in a bun without using any ties or pins (it stays up just with friction) but it keeps falling out.
Day 31: Hair looks and feels clean. Nothing else to say.
Day 32: Shampoo wash. Starting to look and feel oily at the roots. Probably didn’t “need” to wash it but did anyway. I tried using the Devacurl Low-Poo but found that I really can’t stand it – my hair feels less clean after using it than it did after using egg yolks. I ended up using Pantene shampoo/conditioner again (and Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It).
Day 33: Waking up with clean-feeling hair really is nice. I hope it lasts now that I’m back to conventional washing.
Day 34: Oily at the roots but tolerable. Basically what my morning-after-washing used to be.
Day 35: Used up my DevaCurl Low-Poo (and the SheaMoisture silicone-free conditioner). Not happy with how clean (not clean) or soft (not soft) my hair felt even in the shower and ended up re-washing/conditioning with conventional Pantene products.
Conclusion: While I’m not a water-washing convert, I’m not writing this experiment off as a complete failure. Whether because of the ‘reset’ of leaving my scalp oily for days or because I started doing the preening/boar-bristle-brush thing, my hair does stay acceptably clean for at least one more day. I’m glad I started using the 100% boar bristle brush, as it mitigates the worst of my oily-scalp-dry-ends issues without any product, and I don’t think I would have thought to try one outside the context of this experiment.
Since ending this experiment, I’ve been shampooing my hair every third day or whenever I work out, whatever comes first. Well, “shampoo” is a loose term – I ran out of shampoo and instead used the First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay that I got from my last Sephora Play! box and it works pretty well. I haven’t been working out as much as I’d like to, but I should have more time for that in a couple of weeks, and I’m going to try to try doing shampoo every third day and water-only if/when I work out in between.
I feel like most of the positive water-washing experiences I saw were from people who were unhappy with conventional shampoos – stiff/dull hair, frizziness, scalp itching/dandruff, etc. Since I was totally happy with now my hair looked before I started this experiment, and was really just hoping to calm oil production down enough to stretch out my time between washes, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that I had almost the opposite effect, with the emergence of all these issues. Since going back to conventional shampoo the dandruff that emerged during this experiment has all but disappeared, which was a relief – I was pretty sure my hair itself would bounce back without any issues, but I wasn’t entirely sure how my scalp would react.
No lasting negatives, gained some new insight about how my scalp and hair behave, and learned some new techniques for hair washing/maintenance, and squeezed out one more day between hair washes – I’d call that a win.