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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

The Pretty Files: No Shampoo

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and various beauty blogs. I am generally looking for inspiration or new techniques, though sometimes I look for product reviews or things I absolutely must try. For several months I have been seeing articles and posts about no longer using shampoo to wash hair and after doing a lot of reading I decided that this was worth trying.

I already know that washing my hair every day is not the best course of action. My stylist has managed to get me on an every-other-day schedule at minimum, though I often go three days between shampoo sessions. The simple swap from daily washing to a more staggered schedule dramatically improved my hair about a year ago when I made the change so I figured, why not give up shampoo entirely and see what happens?

Before going on this journey I did my research. It turns out that there is more than one way to give up traditional shampoo. Some advocate a complete abstinence from cleansing agents. This method requires that you vigorously brush your hair (preferably with a boar bristle brush) to distribute the natural oils of the hair and then use very warm or hot water to scrub the roots with. Another method involves a plain water rinse, but you use a baking soda and water mixture to cleanse the hair and follow with apple cider vinegar to condition. A third method uses conditioner, specifically those without silicone or dimethicone, as a cleanser. I also found a method that required one to “wash” the hair with flat beer as well as one that used a raw egg as a cleanser.  I decided to try as many of the options as I could depending on how my hair turned out and one Sunday earlier this month I took a nice hot shower and lovingly washed my hair. And then I kept a journal.

Day 1 Hair: Nice and fluffy.

Day 1: My hair is fluffy and soft as it usually is after a washing. Nothing special here. It smells like shampoo.

Day 2: Normal day two hair, a little less fluffy near the roots, but I can definitely wear it down and don’t need any product. In keeping with the hot water method of No Shampoo, I rinsed used my fingers and hot water to scrub my scalp in the shower. I let it air dry and my hair looked a lot like it did before washing.

Day 3: I used the hot water method again, but may hair felt waxy and didn’t have much life when it dried. I decided to wear it in a ponytail today so I didn’t have to use product. Hair smells neutral.

Day 4: My hair is just feeling gross so I tested out the conditioner method. It relieved the slightly itchy feeling of my scalp and made my hair a little less waxy-feeling, but didn’t restore my hair to freshly washed levels or look spectacular.

Day 5: Conditioner as shampoo day two. My hair feels heavy, but doesn’t look greasy. Smells like conditioner, which is a plus. Wore my hair up to make life easier.

Day 6: Woke up with my hair feeling like it was coated with something and using conditioner only made it worse. My hair feels wrong and I definitely can’t wear it down. Someone asked me if I had dyed my hair darker due to the oil starting to build up.

Day 7: Did nothing. Didn’t even use water. Just brushed it out well to distribute hair oils. I feel gross, but my hair smells neutral and I can wear a bun without needing many hair pins. Bonus!

Day 8: My scalp feels weird again so I’m trying the baking soda wash followed with apple cider vinegar. My hair is maybe slightly less oily, but now I smell like vinegar and my ends look dried out.

Day 9: Since I can’t use the baking soda and vinegar technique two days in a row, I’m back to hot water. I’ve noticed that I can see where my pillowcase is absorbing hair oil at night and I noticed that my hair is producing more oil than normal. It coats my fingertips when I run my hands through it. My hair still smells like vinegar. I feel really dirty.

Day 10: Beer as shampoo time. A friend brought over some really random cheap beer awhile back so this made for a perfect use for it. I scrubbed my scalp with a can of beer, which resulted in my ends looking really lovely, but my scalp just looked sticky and I smell like stale, cheap beer and disappointment. I look awful. I break down into tears. I actually broke down into tears and almost called out of work due to looking crazy.

Day 11: My hair is sticking together. There is oil on my forehead and if I twist my hair it does not untwist. I feel disgusting, my hair smells gross, and my cat is trying to groom me. I cannot do this anymore. Forget trying an egg wash. I’m done.

Day 10 hair: So gross.

Day 12: I have never missed my shampoo so much in my life. It takes four washes to get all the oil out of my hair and even then within a few hours my hair is already oily again. At least I don’t smell.

I stopped the experiment there. I had intended to go a full month because everything I read said that as you went into the second week without shampoo your hair has a few awkward oily days before evening out to the best hair of your life. This did not happen for me. Instead, I got oily right away and none of the remedies did anything but make my hair worse. The ends of my hair didn’t even seem to benefit from the lack of washings as in short order they too looked gross. The worst part for me was that my hair didn’t produce less oil as I went along, but more. It took me over a week after ending the experiment to get my hair back in balance. I also showered obsessively after the experiment because I couldn’t quite get to feeling clean in general. The experiment took an emotional toll and the insecurity about my hair that set in four days in isn’t quite resolved even today, with freshly washed hair.

I have absolutely no idea how people are able to give up shampoo. Maybe it is because my hair is processed or maybe it’s my lifestyle in general, but for me the No Shampoo idea didn’t revolutionize my hair. It didn’t simplify my life. It made it worse, adding extra time to my mornings to try to style oily, smelly hair. I absolutely cannot recommend this trend at all (though I did like what the beer rinse did for my blonde color and may do that again sometime.) No Shampoo? No way.

Have you tried the No Shampoo method or do you have an other suggestion for going without traditional shampoo that I didn’t try? Let me know in comments. I’m curious to see what you thought. I’m also looking for other beauty trends and challenges to try so feel free to let me know about those, too! Until next time!

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2 Comments on “The Pretty Files: No Shampoo”

  1. dragonmonkeymanagement March 31, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    I haven’t gone without shampoo completely because of the icky factor also, but I have cut down on washes and I think it has helped dramatically. I have naturally curly, drier hair so the oil build up is kind of nice, but still gross after a couple of days so I have to wash it or my face makes me pay with break outs.

  2. livingwithashell March 31, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    I think replacing one of your normal shampoos with a “no poo” wash can help your hair a lot. If nothing else, a non sulphate shampoo can make a huge difference.

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