Here’s What Happened when I Stopped Using Shampoo for a Week
As a person of habit, I love a good daily routine. It helps me wake up faster when I have an organized list of what I’m doing and when.
For as long as I can remember, cleaning my hair was a huge part of that routine. My hair is very fine and dry, yet prone to becoming extremely greasy and sweaty with even the slightest bit of moisture or heat. To make matters worse, I have long hair and hyperhidrosis (a condition that causes one to sweat much more than average), so it’s much easier to overheat. I cringe even thinking about that sensation of feeling sweat trickle down from my forehead, slide across my cheek and rest on my jawline.
While browsing reddit one day in late April, I came across the /r/NoPoo subreddit. It claimed that harsh chemicals commonly found in modern, commercial shampoos can strip our hair and scalp of its natural oils, causing hair to become susceptible to damage and making our scalp’s oil production go into overdrive.
Their solution? Tossing out all the harsh chemicals and going all-natural. Now, before I continue, I should clarify: this subreddit isn’t suggesting you can’t put anything into your hair to clean it ever again (although there are some people who do this “water only” form of NoPoo and have reported great success with it). Instead, it focuses on removing all the unhealthy, harsh chemicals we put into our hair and allowing it to revert to a more natural state. It also stresses the fact that everyone is different — a method that works for someone else might not necessarily be right for you.
There are three main schools of thought within the NoPoo philosophy. Natural washing (ie: baking soda, bentonite clay or vinegar-based washes), water-only washing and conditioner-only washing, the type that ultimately worked best for me and the type that I will be focusing on here.
At first I tried quitting all cleaning products cold turkey and washed only with water. Like many, this just didn’t work for me. Since my hair is naturally very oily, it would take forever to dry and the grease would inevitably be there when it did. I did, however, notice that the overall oiliness of my hair had decreased, and that the oil that was there felt much more natural, and not like big beads of sweat staining my hair. Prior to this, I would use wax or pomade in my hair, but after about a week of stopping all cleaning products, I found the natural sebum worked better than any product I had previously used for maintaining a natural hold. All I wanted now was to reduce the grease factor a little more.
It was around the 20-day mark of water-only washing that I found a NoPoo thread about CO-washing (conditioner-only washing). This method is extremely similar to water-only but instead of only water, you use conditioner every once and awhile. Some people use it every day. Some use it once a month. After a little bit of trial and error, I found that I fall somewhere in the middle and, depending on the temperature/humidity, find it works best when I use it once every 7-10 days. So, essentially, I do a week of water-only washing and then around the eighth day I wet my hair and do a simple three-minute conditioner wash.
I can honestly say this has worked better than any other hair regimen I’ve followed in my entire life. The conditioner washes away extra grease when it starts to build up but leaves a base level of oil protecting the hair (which I was previously stripping every time I shampooed.) My hair actually looks best three or four days after I wash it with conditioner, as the sebum is being produced at a normal rate and not sent into overdrive every 24 hours. It’s quite a fun feeling getting complimented on your hair’s appearance only to tell the person you haven’t washed it in almost two weeks!
It’s important to note that, if you do decide to do conditioner-only washes as opposed to natural or water-only based NoPoo regimens, what conditioner you use is very important. It can’t contain any silicones (they will build up in the hair if you aren’t using a shampoo). That means any of the following ingredients are off the table:
You should also avoid waxes and non-natural oils, such as Mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum), petrolatum, beeswax, candelilla wax, etc.
For a list of NoPoo-approved conditioners, click here.
Have you stopped using shampoo before? What was your experience like?
Featured Image: © Diueine Monteiro
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IPA aficionado. Cat enthusiast. Political junkie. I believe it’s better to find the best in people than to look for the worst in them.