In Part 1 of this article I shared a bit of my hair history, and what I’ve experienced with longer hair using the Curly Girl Method, switching to 100% natural herbal hair care, a now doing water only hair washing. What is most astonishing with water only hair washing is that my hair actually looks and behaves much better without using any products. Because my hair is fully covered with my own natural oils which my scalp produces from the roots to the ends, my hair is extremely soft, has more elasticity, holds moisture, sheds 10 times less, and also holds my natural curl pattern without any curl defining products, gels, conditioners, hair butters, or oils.
My 30 Day Experiment with Water Only Hair Washing
For a quick recap I initially started water only hair washing at the beginning of the year in January. I researched as much as I could online about water only hair washing, and followed some of the regimens which I had read others doing with curly and coily hair. I started this method with clean product free hair before beginning. I also purchased a natural bristle baby brush to use for my fine curly hair to help distribute my natural oils/sebum down the length of my hair. I wore my hair in fluffy braid outs while using this natural bristle baby brush. Using a boar bristle brush is almost always used for this simple hair care method.
Although using a natural bristle baby brush was gentle on my hair and distributed my natural oils, it took me three plus hours to brush through all of my hair dry. My curly hair is literally like Jekyll and Hyde with split personalities. When my hair is dry it is so voluminous that it takes forever to do anything with it outside of letting it be, and is also more fragile to work with. When it is wet it can be manipulated with ease and grace especially now doing water only hair washing. (Just so you know I did try a firmer boar bristle brush more recently, and it ripped my hair out. Plus it still took me three hours to get through all of my hair.)
When I first started this method of hair care, I continued to use natural carrier oils on the ends of my hair since I had not reached full coverage of my natural oils. It wasn’t until I decided to water rinse my hair daily that I was able to reach full coverage with my own natural oils within 2 1/2 weeks. Daily water rinses distributed my natural oils quickly and more efficiently than using a natural bristle baby brush. I also was able to wear my natural curls in a wash and go method every day without tangles or breakage which is my favorite way to wear my hair.
I was shocked that my hair was actually softer and more moisturized with my hair completely coated in its own natural oils than when using any conditioner that I have made or purchased!
Hard Water & Water Only Hair Washing
I stopped doing water only hair washing after experiencing the effects of hard water with this method when I was out of town. There is a shower water filter in our bathroom shower, so although we do have hard water where we live, the minerals and chlorine in the water never reach my hair. You can read about the effects of hard water and no ‘poo hair care here. My once tangle-free hair became a knotty mess with the mineral deposits from the hard water in the hotel shower on my hair strands. Once I was back home I returned to using herbal hair care again to get my hair back on track.
This summer I’m back to water only hair washing and I absolutely love it all over again, yet this time I know a few tips and tricks to get around some of the difficulties I had encountered the first time.
My Water Only Hair Washing Regimen
Now that I’m back on this method let me share with you my regimen. I still do daily water rinses sometimes skipping a day because of my schedule. I first massage my scalp then divide my hair into four sections (not including my bangs) before getting into the shower. I saturate one section at a time in the shower under running water then divide that section in two. I use a detangling brush (Bass Bamboo Brush or Tangle Teezer) to detangle each section gently under running water.
With full coverage of my natural oils my brush glides through my hair effortlessly. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to detangle my hair now. Because the detangling brush clumps my curls very well, I separate my curls under running water before a final rinse with cool water to close the hair’s cuticle. I let my hair air dry not touching it at all while it dries. At night I put my hair in a high ponytail (aka The Pineapple) before going to sleep. I also put my hair in this same high ponytail leaving my bangs out to stretch my curls once dry. This gives my hair a layered look since my hair is bluntly cut (a curly girl method no-no) which I explain why here. I still believe curl by curl cutting gives curly hair the best look though.
This is the EASIEST hair care regimen that I could have ever imagined with better results than I’ve experienced in the four plus years of growing my hair out.
Conflicting Thoughts & Questions
There is a lot of discussion about low manipulation hair care and styling for curly/coily hair, and my water only hair washing regimen definitely seems like the opposite spectrum since I am brushing my hair daily and not using protective styling outside of a bun every once and awhile. I am able to use a detangling brush daily without breakage because my hair is much more elastic with a heavy layer of my own natural oils. I would NEVER be able to brush my hair wet daily without breakage no matter how much conditioner I used doing the Curly Girl Method or using herbal hair care. Please note that this is what has been working for me. With water only hair washing just like any hair care method, you have to find exactly what works to make your unique hair thrive as well. You will see that others do not rinse daily and that some use protective styling as well. (Read Part 3 for low manipulation and protective styling update.)
I now actually prefer to detangle my hair daily as I’m not having to do one intensive detangling session at the end of each week or bi-weekly. It is surprisingly easier to detangle my hair now than it has ever been. This is a major bonus for hair that once thrived on how well in could interlock, twist, and twirl around each other. No more unbearable knots in my hair which I would have to slowly release as much as possible before cutting it out what was left in the knot. I hardly use my scissors at all anymore unless I’m trimming or dusting my ends.
Can Too Much Sebum Be Bad?
You may be wondering if there is such as thing as too much of a good thing with your natural oils or sebum and my answer is YES! When your naturals oils are not distributed properly they can collect at the roots leaving your ends bare and possibly feeling dry. If you have too much coverage on all of your hair it can feel waxy and loose movement when it is dry. I usually can feel the oils on my wet hair, but when my hair is dry my preference is for it to only feel soft.
If my hair starts to feel excessively waxy when dry, I will do an oil rinse which just like oil cleansing for the face which emulsifies with the sebum and helps rinse it away.
It is true when oil cleansing that you use a facial cloth to steam and remove the oils from your face, yet for water only hair washing removing all of the oils from your hair isn’t helpful. I only want to soften my natural oils so and fully distribute them effectively throughout my hair. Because I am acne prone, I use a high linoleic oil for my oil rinses, and I only apply the oil to my hair and not my scalp.
My favorite oils to use for my hair is either hemp oil or wheat germ oil. Using organic oils is always best if you can. Wheat germ oil makes my hair feel softer than when using any other oil that I’ve tried. Both hemp and wheat germ oil are high linoleic oils and you can read why they are good for acne prone skin here.
Scalp Health & Hair Scent
Lastly some are concerned with the health of your scalp on this hair care method. One reason I rinse my hair daily is because I am active. I also intend to continue using a diluted herbal infused apple cider vinegar as a part of my scalp massage prior to rinsing once a month or as needed to maintain a healthy scalp. I will also continue using henna.
For those who think that washing your hair with water only will have your hair smelling bad, that hasn’t been my experience at all. Honestly my hair doesn’t really smell like anything unless I put something in it. When I want something more exciting than my hair not smelling like anything, I can add a simple DIY natural hair fragrance.
Trial & Error + Research
So that’s pretty much it, my super simple hair care regimen with water only hair washing! It is honestly something that you will have to experience yourself if you decide to try it, and have your own trial and error experience with it. Your unique hair type, how much natural oils your scalp produces, along with the quality of water in your area, or if you use a shower filter all plays a big part in water only hair washing.
In Part 1 I provide four amazing sources in which helped me along the way. Definitely go check them out if you desire more information, and to hear/read others perspective on this hair care method. It was really helpful for me to see what others were doing and then create the regimen that I shared above which is completely unique to my hair needs.
If you’ve tried water only hair washing or are currently doing it please share your experience, and tips and tricks that work for you as well. Also feel free to ask questions below.
Peace & Sunshine!
From The Curly Girl Method, To Herbal Hair Care, Now Water Only–Part 1–Hair History + Beginnings of Water Only Hair Washing
From The Curly Girl Method, To Herbal Hair Care, Now Water Only–Part 3–Three Lessons Learned + Protective Styling
See more articles on water only hair washing here!
(Images by Dawn Michelle)