I haven't washed my hair with shampoo in 4 months. The "No ‘Poo Method" (otherwise known as the "No Shampoo Method") wasn’t a decision I made quickly nor took lightly. I wanted to share my experience (the good and the greasy) with those of you who may be considering it or who are just starting out and want to know what to expect. I’m even including (embarrassing) pictures!
Remember, results may vary. 😉
Why & when I chose the "No ‘Poo Method"
‘No shampoo’ hair care is something I first stumbled across several years ago and instantly dismissed it as being disgusting. (Maybe you’ve done that too?)
Fast forward to a few months ago and the subject randomly popped up in one of my social media feeds so, curiosity getting the better of me, I did a little digging. In my new minimalist and altogether-more-enlightened phase of life, I decided I’d give it a go. After all, I was on a mission not only to reduce my belongings and shopping sprees, but also to single-handedly save the environment. It fit right in!
I decided to incorporate it as a New Year’s resolution for 2017 and, despite my initial intention to slowly phase it out over a period of months by gradually stretching out the time between washes, I ended up just going cold turkey. (What can I say, I can sometimes be a bit all-or-nothing.)
So, when was the last time I washed my hair with shampoo? January 7th 2017.
I don’t have “before” photos of the top of my head (it never really occurred to me to take any) but here I am about 4 weeks in:
Not bad, but not great. (In case you’re wondering, I took this, and the other pictures in this post, one day after washing my hair. Each time I thought my hair looked amazing. Then I took a picture of the top of my head...)
What I’m doing instead
So if I’m not using shampoo, how am I washing my hair? Well, just with plain ol’ water. I wet my hair, same as before, and then give my scalp a good, vigorous massage (almost as if I were lathering up shampoo), and then I “rinse” by just pulling the water all the way through my hair to try spread any natural oils and wash out any dead skin. I do this approximately every 3-4 days. (And yes, even when I went to the salon I requested water only.)
So let’s look at all the good stuff before we delve into the struggles I’ve faced.
The (many) benefits of the "No ‘Poo Method"
I’ll list these in the general order of importance to me (your priorities may be different). I’ll start with the benefits that factored into my decision to go down the no shampoo route, and then list the benefits I discovered only after having started.
The ‘before’ benefits:
1. It’s natural
I no longer want harsh chemicals and unwanted toxins in, on, or near by body. And no amount of advertising is going to convince me otherwise. (Sorrynotsorry, marketers.)
2. It’s environmentally friendly
Far fewer plastic bottles ending up in landfills and, because fewer need to be made, it also reduces all the waste and pollution that comes with producing them.
3. It saves time
Admittedly, not as much as I initially expected. Before I started I thought a quick rinse of my hair would do the job just fine but no, I still have to give it a good ol’ scrub and also massage my scalp on a regular basis. But it still takes a little less time than the whole lather-rinse-repeat routine, and it’s also a whole extra aisle of the supermarket I no longer have to walk down, so there’s that.
4. It reduces clutter
Before I started, I’d been on the lookout for a set of similar bottles that I could decant all my lotions and potions into, to give my toiletries a more “uniform” look. Now I don’t have to bother because most of that stuff is gone.
5. It saves money
Bit of a no-brainer. I never spent that much on hair products anyway, nor did I buy anything expensive, so it’s not going to make a me a millionaire or anything, but it’s still a few extra quid back in my pocket.
The ‘after’ benefits
6. It reduces the amount of testing on animals
To be perfectly honest, this never even entered my head before I started the challenge, but would certainly have featured quite high on the list if I had.
7. It reduces frizz
I’ve always suffered with frizzy hair (my mother says I have ‘straw’ hair because it just never sits smooth) so I was very pleasantly surprised when I noticed — almost immediately — that it had stopped sticking up. Even my hair stylist said it was “sitting” a lot better. (Side note: this is most likely down to the lovely layer of natural oils that now coats my hair, which I’ll discuss in the ‘downsides’ below.)
8. No more soap scum
Sick of seeing that reddish-brown greasy goo all over the floor of your shower or bathtub? It’s caused by product build-up, so no products means no scum. And that means less cleaning and scrubbing for you. Huzzah!
Here’s a pic of my at about 2 months in:
As you can see, there’s pretty much no difference between that and the previous one, so now let’s look at the downsides as I’ve experienced them. (Again, these may or not apply to you.)
The downsides of the "No 'Poo Method"
1. Yes, my hair is greasy
I was very aware before I started that there would be a “transition” period during which my hair would be greasy. Personally, it doesn’t bother me all that much — I’ve never been very ‘high maintenance’ when it comes to my appearance, and I’m certainly not “romantic” about my hair.
I got through the first few weeks by wearing a lot of hats. When the weather got warmer and that wasn’t really an option anymore, I just let it all hang loose, so to speak. I’ll be perfectly honest with you and I say I wasn’t expecting the transition period to last quite so long but, truth be told, I’m still going through it 4 months on and wondering if I’ll ever see the end or if this is just what my hair looks like now and forevermore.
2. Change in texture
My hair now feels very “waxy”, presumably due to hardened grease. It does help my hair stay in place a lot better, but it’s not a particularly pleasant feeling.
You’ve probably already noticed the white flecks in the pictures. My hair now has a huge amount of dandruff as my scalp is still adjusting to this new hair care routine. Thankfully, the flakes are pretty teeny tiny but, when I vigorously brush my fingers back and forth through my hair, a visible, albeit light, dusting falls from it. Not ideal.
This was a temporary problem I had in the second month. It wasn’t incredibly bad (I had head lice about 10 years ago and it’s nowhere near that level of burning itch) but it was still a step above ‘mild’. Instead, it was uncomfortable and annoying and I was very glad when it finally passed after about 2-3 weeks.
Here’s a look at how I was faring at the 3 month mark:
Still no change. Sigh. Good thing I’m a stubborn so-and-so.
OK, so those are the ups and downs that I’ve experienced so far. But I do want to share some additional thoughts on things that may have slowed down my ‘transition’ time (that may help speed it up for you) and what I’m going to be doing going forward.
Additional notes on the "No 'Poo Method"
1. Cleaning methods
It’s important to note that there are other options besides only using water (none of which I’ll go into here, but there’s a linked article below where you can find out more information if you’re curious). This was just the option I chose because any others negated a lot of the benefits mentioned above (like saving time, reducing clutter, etc.) and, frankly, I was just plain lazy.
Your water hardness will have a huge impact on your results; soft water is best if you’re planning on going the water-only route. The water in my area is medium, so I may have to add in an occasional apple cider vinegar rinse to soften up my hair a little. This is on the back burner, though, until I try the below first.
2. Scritching & preening
Two odd (but, somehow, deeply satisfying) words. Scritching refers to the process whereby you very vigorously massage your entire scalp. From what I can gather, it’s supposed to be done daily, and usually while your hair is dry. It stimulates the scalp, helping to improve the flow of blood to the area, and loosening up dead skin cells and natural oils.
The second step, preening, is where you “pull” the natural oils from your scalp down along your hair. Essentially, you “sandwich” small sections of hair between two fingers, right at the scalp, and then pull your fingers all the way to the ends of your hair to distribute the oils evenly.
I haven’t been doing this nearly as regularly as I should have so I’m going to do it as often as I remember. Hopefully, it will help and I’ll see an improvement in my hair’s condition pretty quickly.
3. Using a boar bristle brush
I’ve heard a lot of talk about how these are great for ‘preening’, helping to re-distribute the natural oils, and also reducing frizz. I don’t have the latter problem right now (though I may if and when my scalp settles down and starts producing a little less oil) but I definitely need help with the former. I was wary of buying extra things in the beginning because I thought they might be a bit of a gimmick, but I finally caved and bought one a few days ago. I haven’t used it long enough to be able to tell if it’s making a difference, but watch this space!
Here’s a photo of where I’m at now that 4 months have passed.
I know it looks a lot better than the others but, truthfully, this just happened to be a particularly good hair day. I would say that most days look like the previous 3 pictures.
And that’s where I’m at. I’ll have another update for you when (if?) my scalp finally settles, which hopefully won’t be too far into the future. (Most estimates I’ve seen say that the transition period can take anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months.)
Is it worth it?
By now you probably want to know whether I think it’s worth it. Whether the benefits outweigh the negatives. Whether I’d recommend it.
I guess the answer to each is yes. It obviously requires a bit of grit and determination to stick through it even when your hair isn’t looking its best, but hats, bandanas and head scarves, and even certain hairstyles like high ponytails and braids can all help to hide the situation if you’re feeling slightly self-conscious.
Also, I’m working off the basis that all the downsides are temporary and, once they pass, it’ll be pure benefit from there on out. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting increasingly keen for that time to come.
If you’re currently considering it, I’d say go for it (or, if you’re just starting out, stick with it). You’ll be leading a much more natural life, doing your bit for the planet, and helping out some animals along the way too. It’s better for your body AND your bank balance. If you can stick through the greasy times, and be a bit more diligent with the scritching and preening that I was, you should transition your way to beautiful hair in no time.
I’m expecting questions, so please do drop them in the comments below. I’ll happily (and honestly) answer them.
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