I've Started Washing My Hair With Just Water—Here's What It Looks Like

April 10, 2020

Washing hair with only water

Unless you’ve literally been hiding under a rock, or you’ve spent the past 100 days on Mars you’ll be aware that the world has gone mad. The coronavirus has us all cooped up at home (unless you’re an essential worker in which case thank you!) and while I still have my usual job as I work remotely anyway, not being able to leave my house has me losing my sanity. So much so that I’ve decided to start using only water to wash my hair. Yep, I’ve put my shampoo and conditioner bottles in the cupboard and honestly, I’m excited.  I’m always down for a challenge, especially when it involves removing unnecessary chemicals, reducing my waste and saving money.

Why I’m ditching shampoo and conditioner

I lived in a van traveling through Mexico for four months, and let me tell you, there were times where I did not wash my hair for so long. I’d pop it up into braids and forget all about it until an opportunity arrived to wash it. But then I saw a friend on Instagram talk about how she’d ditched shampoo and conditioner and her hair had never been healthier. This got me thinking, maybe if I stuck with not using shampoo and conditioner my hair would start to thrive.


This Instagram message from @dayvissss started this whole crazy adventure.

I’m not going to lie, I am expecting big things from this change. Our scalp has its own pH level (slightly acidic) and using shampoo can cause an imbalance in this as well as strip the hair of its natural oils (which you then replace artificially with conditioner). When we stop using shampoo and conditioner, our scalp can restore its natural pH level and your hair will eventually start to regulate the release of its own natural oils.

What happened in my first two weeks of washing hair with just water

Honestly, nothing wild. My hair does feel greasy around the roots, but anything that doesn’t touch my scalp feels normal and soft. I have curly thick hair and brushing it is a nightmare. Usually, I put conditioner on and then brush it in the shower and even then it can take literally 20 minutes. I was worried that without the conditioner I’d be rocking dreadlocks within a week. However, I’ve actually found it surprisingly easy to brush my hair. This morning I brushed it while it was dry so I could braid it and it was, dare I say it, easy to brush.

Braided hair

My hair in braids after not washing it with shampoo + conditioner for 2 weeks

The worst part of this is the showering experience. I miss the warm soapy feel of hair products. And while my hair is drying from washing with just water, it feels like I’ve put half a tub of coconut oil on it. But once it’s dried, it isn’t that bad and my boyfriend’s new favorite hobby is saying “wow, your hair doesn’t look greasy at all!”

What my shower routine looked like before and after

So, this experience will be different for every single person. It depends on your hair and how often you usually wash it. As a vanlifer hippie, I only wash my hair usually once or twice a week so it hasn’t been that much of a change, and I think that is part of the reason why my experience hasn’t been dreadful. If you wash your hair often, it could be a bit more of a dramatic change, but I still believe that with time your hair will balance itself out, no matter how much you think it needs to be washed every day.

Before this experiment, I would use natural shampoo bars (like the ones from Lush) and a natural conditioner containing coconut oil and aloe vera. After my shower, I leave my hair to air dry but rub in some curl-enhancing leave-in conditioner.

Now I wash my hair with just water and leave it to air dry. I am still using my leave-in conditioner because it goes just on the ends of my hair and doesn’t interfere with the natural pH of my scalp. Plus, also it makes my curls beautiful.

So that’s it. My shower routine is super simple, and even though my hair is greasy, who cares because I’m stuck inside my house. I’m hoping by the time this quarantine is up, I’ll have done the greasy phase of no-shampoo and will be onto the thriving, glossy phase when I’m finally allowed to leave my house.

I’d love to hear if any of you have ditched shampoo and conditioner? And if you’re tempted, go for it! What’s the worst that can happen? You can always stop if you absolutely hate it, but do expect the first month or so to be a little rough.

Also by Louise: 4 Best Books To Read While Quarantined

Related: Taraji P. Henson Launches Vegan Haircare Line & It’s Giving Us Nonwhite Vegans A Lot Of Feels

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Photo: Louise Baker, Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Originally from England, Louise gained her degree in Psychology and hopes to help those struggling with mental health. She now travels in her converted van and will soon be heading to Mexico. She’s a passionate environmentalist and loves nothing more than spreading information on how to live a more sustainable life. Along side this, she spends her time practicing yoga, creating exciting vegan meals and swimming in the ocean. She’s a freelance writer and owns her own blog www.routetothesoul.com where she talks about sustainability, wellness and travel. You can follow her journey on instagram @routetothesoul.


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