Sustainable Travel, War on Plastic

Three Months, Water Only Hair Washing

April 20, 2017
three months water only hair washing

Here come the highlights.

It’s been three months now since I stopped washing my very long, very thick hair with shampoo and conditioner.

Your first question might be very simply and quite rightly, why? What kind of a person doesn’t wash their hair? Am I some kind of dirty hippie, or something?

Hippie yes, dirty – well I like to think my personal hygiene levels are above average. I mean, I wash daily, with soap and I’m big on deodorant. That counts for something… right?

My desire to give up shampoo came from my year of no plastic, where I spent twelve months trying to eliminate the stuff from my life.

Toiletries were a big concern for me. I mean, consider how much crap we women especially end up housing in our bathroom cabinets. All those really quite redundant products for whitening our teeth, transforming our skin to make it soft and supple and making our hair shine (never mind that half these products don’t even deliver what they say on the box). Being a woman is like having a farm sometimes – there’s always something to cut, pluck or harvest.

Related: Here’s What Is In My Eco-Friendly Toiletries Bag

Plus what about travelling? As far as I’m concerned, the less I can cart around, the better.

I wanted to bring things back to the basics. I consider myself a low maintenance kinda gal and I want my beauty regime to reflect that.

So, I decided to try to ditch the shampoo to cut back on plastic and save myself money.

Here’s how it’s gone, so far

I haven't washed my hair with shampoo for three months. Would you do the same? Click To Tweet

The Last Three Months

If I had been writing this update a month ago (which I very nearly did), you would have found me closing the door on this experiment.

I’d been quite happy over the first few weeks of going shampoo free. My hair, which is disagreeable at the best of times, was faring quite well. It was a little greasy on top, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. I had hope for the future of my shampoo-less existence.

Then, chaos as my scalp exploded.

I have suffered from dandruff my entire life. It comes and it goes, with no rhyme or reason, other than to plague or embarrass me. I tried anti-dandruff shampoos in my youth, which only made it worse. When I quit using products that had Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in them, I had momentary success before it adapted and came back with a vengeance. Mixing bicarb soda into my shampoo helped a bit, but I’ve never been able to completely eliminate it from my life.

I was enraged when it hit me several weeks ago and I have to say, it’s one of the worst bouts I’ve had. Nothing seemed to soothe my scalp and I was this close to giving up and throwing the whole idea out the window.

three months water only hair washing

Preparing a rosemary rinse.

When life gives you lemons…

…You put those lemons in your hair.

Yes, that’s what I did! Every morning for a week, I’d put two tablespoons of lemon juice in my hair, massaging it into my scalp, before rinsing with a cup of water, which also had a tablespoon of lemon juice in it.

And you know what? IT WORKED. The acidity of the lemon juice helped balance out that of my scalp.

I’ve now incorporated my “lemon rinse” into my hair routine and will use it whenever my dandruff threatens to return. I don’t want to throw it in there too often, as lemon juice has a tendency to bleach hair. It’s already brought out my auburn highlights (which I’m stoked about) but I would not look good as a ginger!

Alongside the lemon juice, I’ve been experimenting with other natural hair-washing solutions, to give my locks a bit of extra attention every now and then.

Once a week, I’m mixing the yolk of an egg and a tablespoon of olive oil together. I pop this into my hair when dry and brush it through with my bamboo comb. I then leave it on for about twenty minutes before washing it out. Wrapping your head in a warm towel after applying will help seal the mask in.

A rinse I’ve grown quite fond of is rosemary (the herb) infused water. Boil two cups of water, add 40 grams (1 ounce) of fresh rosemary. Soak for an hour, then strain the rosemary out of the water and put it through your hair next time you’re in the shower. This recipe is great for thick hair. If yours is fine, try this instead:

25g/1oz dried chamomile flowers infused in
1 litre/4 cups boiling water

And here is a progress shot of my hair. It’s still insanely curly.

three months water only hair washing

Yay, hair.

What’s Next?

I’m getting it cut for the first time since October 2016 in a couple of weeks and I’m beyond excited. Rather than getting it done at a normal salon, these days I splurge on having it styled by a curly-haired expert.

Related: My Seven-Odd Favourite Eco-Friendly Travel Items

I love my kinks and waves. These hairdressers tend to know what they’re doing (although this will be my first time at the Melbourne salon). If you live in London and have curly or wavy hair, I thoroughly recommend checking out The Curl Whisperer. She is a pro!

Perhaps whatever leftover money I have saved from not purchasing hair products can be put into my my travel jar!

I’ll be updating the situation again in another three months time, which will take it to a full six months without shampoo.

What do you think of water only washing? Would you be keen to try it?

Do You Want to Read More Posts Like This? Try:

Green up your travels with these simple eco-friendly swaps.
4 helpful phrases for plastic free travel, translated into different languages.
How to travel responsibly, without blowing your money.
Ten tips for living zero waste in big cities like London.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Josie April 20, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Oh wow, you lasted! And it worked! I almost can’t believe it! My hair is thin and fine. Do I dare giving it a go?

    • Reply LC April 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Give it a go, I reckon! The worst that could happen is you’ll have to eventually shampoo it, after all!

    • Reply Si April 21, 2017 at 2:47 am

      Be very cautious with putting lemon on fine hair as it can bleach it and make it brittle.

      • Reply LC April 21, 2017 at 2:56 am

        Yes, true. I use it very sparingly!

  • Reply Tom April 20, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Your post about not using products inspired me to do the same! Granted, it’s abit easier for me, as I currently have very little hair!

    I had the same problem with dandruff. I hadn’t had it for years, but its come back with a vengeance since I just starting washing with water. I might try the lemon juice trick and see if that works.

    The very little hair that I currently have feels a softer than before. It was in good shape a month into this as well, when it was a lot longer. Definitely something in this no shampoo stuff!

    • Reply LC April 21, 2017 at 2:57 am

      I think so! I like the lemon trick, as it’s not like they’re hard to source, wherever you are in the world.

  • Reply Harmony, Momma To Go April 25, 2017 at 2:46 am

    wow thats impressive, but a good reminder to maybe think of more organic and natural products. i wash everyday, and def cannot go a day without it or I am a total grease ball!

    • Reply LC April 25, 2017 at 3:20 am

      It’s been a process! I went from washing everyday with conventional shampoos to using natural products once every three or four days. Pretty much had to retrain my hair, in a way. There’s hope yet!

  • Reply Kati April 25, 2017 at 9:26 am

    You are so so brave!!! I cannot believe you’re doing this, I wish I had your resolve and wouldn’t mind dealing with less than “sparkly” hair when going to work! I can go for about a week, usually out of necessity when roadtripping / camping and I basically don’t care, but in everyday life… not so much. I am, however, hunting for less environmentally invasive solutions but haven’t got very far yet (I was very disappointed when I read your other post re. Lush shampoo bar because I thought ‘voila, here’s the solution!’).

    • Reply LC April 25, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Brave or crazy?! I mean, I wore a shirt to work today that had a stain on it, so my standards aren’t exactly high. I was also wondering today if I my hair does smell weird and perhaps I’ve become used to it and don’t notice now. And yes, it’s super disappointing about Lush! I had thought the same thing, but then noticed the SLS in the ingredients and did some research online and no bueno. Seems like the best solution to avoid plastic in Oz is to find a zero waste store that sells bulk shampoo that you can decant into your own bottles or have a stab at making it yourself.

      • Reply Kati April 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        Brave, crazy, same thing, right?! 😉 Either way, I think it’s totally awesome. I will have another look at my favourite health shops but I think they all have stuff in plastic bottles only. Why does nobody sell natural shampoo in glass jars?! Can’t be that hard??

        • Reply LC April 26, 2017 at 2:27 am

          I know, right?! You can get other stuff in glass bottles, damn it. Or just a suitable shampoo bar would be well-received.

          • Kati April 26, 2017 at 9:42 am

            YES, YES and more YES!! If I ever find anything, I will definitely share it with you!

          • LC April 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm

            Please do!

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