Thinking of ditching shampoo? I don’t blame you. I also promise I’m not going to write in rhyme for the majority of this post. Here’s my experience of using the ‘water only hair washing’ method on my hair. I also list some alternatives to using LUSH shampoo bars.
I have experimented with water only hair washing for four months and it’s quite the eco-adventure.
My initial motivation stems from my desire to use less plastic in my everyday life, particularly when travelling.
The less stuff you have to pack when travelling, the better. This is why I’d been doing my darnedest to give up on using shampoo.
I figure it’s less plastic bottles heading to landfill, as well as less crap I’m having to carry around.
And as a low-maintenance kinda gal, if I can get away with putting minimal effort into my appearance, then all the better. Washing hair with just water seems like a dream come true.
I had longed to quit using shampoo and conditioner for quite some time. I’ve tried various methods over the last year or so – shampoo bars, making my own (with bicarb soda, or using avocado seed, mixed in with my normal shampoo).
Having had hardly any results with any of these methods and reading about others having success with water only hair washing, I bit the bullet a month ago and quit washing my hair with shampoo.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to address the methods I’ve tried in the past and the results I had with each one.
Water Only Hair Washing: Alternatives
Lush and Other Shampoo Bars
I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I don’t just use Lush shampoo bars when travelling.
I want to come out and say right now, that I considered using them a long time ago – I’d been trying to go shampoo-free for quite some time, before I bit the bullet and tried water only hair washing.
Lush shampoo bars are a product I did consider adding to my arsenal and truth be told, I really wish I could just use them. It would have made life much easier.
There’s a few reasons why I’ve never used Lush’s products on my hair. The first is because simply walking into their store is an unpleasant assault on my olfactory senses (too much scent! Argh!).
The second more concerning reason is that Lush use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in their products, which doesn’t sit well with me personally.
SLS is a foaming agent used in many conventional beauty products. I haven’t used SLS shampoos in years, as it causes my scalp to freak out and tends to turn my natural curls and waves to an unattractive frizz.
Lush have addressed the issue in this article, in a ‘don’t worry everyone, you’re not going to get cancer!’ sort of manner. However, even they state that SLS “does have a potentially toxic effect on aquatic organisms”.
Update: The Lush article has been re-written since I originally wrote this post – the line about the possible harm to the ocean’s creatures has been omitted. Lush claim to be working on a SLS-free solution, but it’s been two and a half years since I first read this article, so… when is this happening?!
Whilst I applaud Lush’s commitment to packaging free products, I’ve been using products without SLS in them for years now. Buying the shampoo bars would be too many steps in the wrong direction, as far as I’m concerned.
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The “No Poo” Method
I clean my bathroom using white vinegar and bicard soda.
The two react against each other, making them ideal for scrubbing away nasty, stubborn stains, like that ring you get around the bathtub after a long soak.
Maybe that’s just me. I might be really grubby.
One of the “no poo” methods suggests rubbing bicard soda through your scalp, before “conditioning” with apple cider vinegar. I tried this.
I do not recommend it. It did horrible things to my hair and I smelt like a salad for days afterwards.
I love both bicarb and ACV, but I’m keeping them well away from my scalp in the future.
Avocado Seed Shampoo
I found out about this method of hair cleaning via the Rogue Ginger.
As an aside, this blog is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to go plastic free/zero waste, especially if you live in Australia. She has written a wonderful book too, called [easyazon_link identifier=”B07BDPRYZ5″ locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″ localize=”y”]Waste Not[/easyazon_link]. Fantastic woman.
You make the shampoo out of the seed of an avocado – grating it, boiling it and mixing the residue with your normal shampoo and washing as per normal.
My hair felt super silky smooth afterwards, yet I was still having to buy plastic-bottled organic shampoo. It did last longer but… that wasn’t really the point.
One month into water only hair washing
As I said earlier, I quit cold turkey. I’ve been following Ariana from Paris to Go’s advice, brushing my hair with my wooden comb and massaging when washing, as you would with shampoo.
My hair went crazy greasy for the first week, which was a bit upsetting, but I chucked it in a bun and continued on with my life. I had a job interview and everything.
They gave me the job, so it couldn’t have looked that bad! (I would hope I was hired based on talent rather than my looks, but who knows.)
Four weeks in, it was still a little oilier than I would like. Yet, it too was weirdly super soft – even more so than when I was using shampoo and conditioner. My hair looked almost ombre – normally it’s quite dark brown, with reddish highlights. It was darker on top at the moment, a few shades up from black, but has even more of a reddish hue at the bottom.
When I attempted to go sans shampoo last, it turned into a bit of a bird’s nest. This time left it sleek and not tangling as easily.
I managed to last four months without shampoo. My scalp eventually ruined things for me, as it was getting crazy dry and flaky. My hair itself was fine and I think the detox did it good, as it remained super soft and silky for a long while after this experiment.
I currently use refillable aluminium bottles that I get from my local hair salon, found through Sustainable Salons Australia. I bring them back when they’re empty and they fill them up for me, using their bulk supply.
I’m happy with this arrangement and my hair seems to like it too.
Should you try water only hair washing?
Well… why not?
Everyone’s hair type is different, so I think it’s worth giving water only hair washing a shot. What’s the worst that can happen, after all?
Have you tried water only hair washing? Were you a success story?