Water Only Hair Washing Guide

You probably know, that water only wash (WO) method, also known as “no poo“, is a hair care method that has been around for a very long time. Water only hair washing is a method for washing hair whereby water is used to clean and rinse the hair with no additional additives such as shampoos or conditioners.

The goal of this method is to minimize products and their chemicals from entering the body and to avoid excessive washing or damage to the hair caused by shampooing.

What is Water Only Hair Washing and How it Works

Washing hair with just water has been gaining popularity recently. It is a type of hair care where you do not use any kind of hair product or shampoo. You just use water to wash your locks and occasionally use apple cider vinegar or baking soda.

While shampoos remove all hair oils, dirt, and natural sebum and leave hair dry and frizzy, water only hair washing leaves the locks clean and natural. It is gentle on the hair, scalp, and the environment, keeps the hair hydrated and moisturized.

How does the water only hair washing method work? The strands are washed with warm water and a natural conditioner, rinsed with cool water and gently patted dry. The oil that is already on the hair is left undisturbed, and new oil is not produced.

How to Wash Hair Without Shampoo – Routine for Hair Cleaning

If you want to stop washing your hair with shampoo, then this article is for you. Here are some guides and tips because it’s time for you to stop putting that harmful stuff on your scalp and hair.

Step 1: Distribute your natural oils

To do this, try rubbing your scalp in a circular motion for a couple of minutes. By doing this, you will be stimulating your follicles and ensuring that your scalp and hair are completely covered in natural oils.

Here are three techniques suggested by natural hair care enthusiasts from the Clean Beauty Gals blog: scritch, preen, and brush (use natural bristle brush).

  • Scritch: Scratching your scalp in a circular motion is called scritching. This increases blood flow to your scalp, stimulates the follicles, and helps to distribute your natural oils.
  • Preen: Preening is similar to scratching, only instead of scratching with your nails, you use your finger tips to gently massage the scalp.
  • Brush: The final technique is brushing. Start at the base and brush your hair towards the tips.

Step 2: Wash with warm water

After distributing your natural oils, the next step is to wash your hair with warm water. In this step, you will be removing any dead skin cells and dirt on your scalp and locks. The warm water will also help your natural oils to spread and coat your hair.

You should wash gently, using your fingertips to massage your scalp. Scritching should be gentle and not too hard as it can cause damage to the hair shaft.

Step 3: Rinse with cold water

There is a not-so-pleasant moment when you wash hair with water only, but that should be done. Rinsing with cold water will close the hair cuticle, locking in moisture and preserving shine. Run the cold water over your locks for a minute or two.

Step 4: Dry your hair with a towel

Gently pat your hair with a towel to remove excess water. Don’t rub your strands, that can lead to hair breakage. I recommend using a towel made from bamboo fibers. Bamboo is antibacterial, so it helps to reduce the risk of hair breakage. It is also very soft and gentle, so it is suitable for your strands.

Step 5: Detangle hair with a wide-tooth comb

If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to invest in a wide-tooth comb. The teeth on these combs are farther apart, so they can be used to detangle more easily than a regular comb. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to your locks and need to get the tangles out quickly.

Water-Only Wash Technique with Vinegar

  • Step 1. Rinse your hair. After you’re done brushing your strands, rinse your hair with warm water. The warm water will help you open up your pores and get rid of any dirt or oil in your hair.
  • Step 2. Apply vinegar. Get your locks wet and apply a small amount of apple cider vinegar. Gently massage the scalp with your fingertips to loosen dirt and oil. Let the vinegar sit for a few minutes, and then rinse. You can also use lemon juice, but apple cider vinegar is better because it’s more natural.
  • Step 3. Use a boar bristle brush. This is where you need to use a boar bristle brush. Run the boar bristle brush through your strands in a downward motion. This will help you untangle your hair.

Aftercare

Simply apply your favorite conditioner to the ends of your hair. Use a good leave-in conditioner or light oil such as argan, jojoba, or coconut oil. You don’t have to use a lot of product. Just a little will do. I like to use a spray bottle to spritz the conditioner and then spread it through my hands.

Tips to Transit to a Water-only Washing Method

girl-with-wet-hair

The first thing you have to do is get rid of all the shampoo and conditioner that you have. This means that you have to throw away your shampoo bottles and conditioner bottles. Also, you should get rid of all the styling products that you use, like gels, mousses, hairsprays, and so on.

Don’t expect water-only washing results to be magical overnight. It takes time to transition our strands to water-only routine. The transition period is when you will be most frustrated, so be patient with your hair. Just because it won’t cooperate doesn’t mean you should stop.

It can be dry, frizzy, and hard to manage in the transition period, but if you persevere, you will be rewarded with the most amazing, healthy locks.

The Benefits of Water Only Method

The following are some of the benefits of this method of hair care.

  • It will help you to save more money on shampoo and conditioner. You will only have to purchase the minimum amount of hair product you need to keep your strands clean and healthy.
  • It’s healthier as it allows you to clean your hair and scalp without stripping them of natural healthy oils. The way shampoo works is by lathering the hair and scalp and then rinsing away the natural oils and dirt. This process not only strips your hair of its natural oils but also removes the natural oil from your scalp.
  • It’s better for the environment as you’ll be using fewer bottles of your favorite shampoo and conditioner.
  • Easiness. The method is easy to follow. All you have to do is simply wet your hair and scalp, rinse with water, and dry. It is that simple.
  • It’s better for the animals as you won’t be using any shampoos or conditioners that are tested on animals.

FAQ

Some questions haven’t been asked yet, so here are the answers.

Is washing with water only good?

Yes, as long as you are doing it right. Washing hair with water only can be used as a form of hair cleansing that will not only cleanse your locks but also moisturize them.

Many people who have used this method have not only claimed to have softer and healthier-looking locks but have also said that they were able to reduce their hair fall.

How often should I wash my head with water only?

Some people with dry or curly hair will find that washing only once a week works for them. Other people with oily or straight hair will find they need to wash 3-4 times a week. The best way to find out the right answer for you is to experiment.

What happens to hair washed in hard water?

Hard water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium deposit on hair and make it dry and rough.

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Summing Up

The basic idea behind no ‘poo is this: shampoo is bad for your hair. It’s stripping your hair of its natural oils, and it’s doing it in a harsh way that wreaks havoc on your scalp (think dandruff).

This may be true for some people, but not for all. Some people do just fine with regular shampoo. That’s why I recommend trying both and seeing what works for you.

Monica Davis

Monica is a professional men and women's hairstylist and a success coach. She started MyStraightener as a personal blog and it has grown into something bigger. You can also find her writing/speaking about new styling tools, hair products, and the latest things in hairdressing on HuffPost, NBC News, Healthline, etc. Learn more about Monica.

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