Wow, it has actually been more than a year since my last no 'poo update! In the meantime, a few things forced me tweak my hair care routine a bit, like my backpack trip to Europe from which I returned with really damaged hair. I also noticed that baking soda was stripping my hair color and drying my hair, so I eventually switched baking soda for low-poo (sulfate-free) shampoos for the past year.
Please feel free to read my introduction post to no 'poo to understand why I embarked on this journey, what are the benefits of washing your hair without shampoo, and the details on the baking soda and vinegar method. A year ago, my original plan was to wash with baking soda for a week or more until I got used to do so, then try to stretch it by a day, and then another, and another, until I am satisfied with the length of time I can go without washing my hair. My ultimate goal was to eventually wash my hair only with water, and this is what I want to focus on in this post.
For the past years, I have been training my hair to be able to wash it every three or four days, which I was very proud of. In my worst months of topical steroid withdrawal this year, my scalp was too sensitive for shampoo, so I would rinse my hair with water only when it really needed it - I wore it up in a bun everyday, and sometimes it would take weeks for it to get dirty because my skin was so dry, my scalp would not even produce oil! I guess being housebound had its perks... TSW was - and is still - quite a challenge, but a few good things happened because of it - one of them is that my hair got used to being washed even less frequently, and it got dirty less and less quickly.
I also gave up soap to wash my body when my skin was at its worst, but even when I tried re-introducing very mild soaps when I thought I was doing better a few months later, my skin reacted. I remember the doctors I saw for my eczema always told me to try to shower every other day, and to use only water and a washcloth if I could, and I guess I needed to experience TSW to realize this was true! I have been doing so for a few months now, and I decided it was about time I did the same for my scalp and hair.
I guess the water washing process for my hair was kind of easier for me because I could already go almost a week without washing it, and the transition period was not a big deal because I was not working since I was not healed of TSW. When I had to get out of the house, it was to see friends and family, so I would just use a bit of dry shampoo to hide the oiliness but honestly, I think I was being a bit paranoid about that.
My best friend since I started water washing has been my board bristle brush - it was a gift I received years ago, so please no comments about how it's not cruelty-free - and I really feel it is an absolute essential tool for people who wash with water only. The idea behind water washing is to work with your hair's natural oils, not against it! A boar bristle brush is the best tool to distribute the sebum from your scalp down your hair (instead of letting it on the scalp, making hair looks oily), allowing the natural oils to coat the whole hair. Water is then used to wash out excess oil and help distribute it down the hair, and to clean the hair of dirt and debris. Makes sense, doesn't it?
So, how do I do it? I let my hair get dirty, using dry shampoo, baby powder, cornstarch or cocoa if I need to go out. Every morning, I massage my scalp to help loosen the oils before sectioning and brushing my hair thoroughly, from scalp to ends, for about 3 minutes with my boar bristle brush to distribute the oils down my hair (be sure to wash your brush often!). After brushing, if needed, I like to apply a bit of argan or macadamia oil to my ends. When I actually wash my hair, I always try to apply a deep condition treatment for a few hours before, and I find that warm to hot water works best to properly clean my hair. I make sure to thoroughly massage my scalp with the pads of my fingers under running water (yes, it requires plenty of elbow grease!), then I quickly run my hands down the length of my hair to help clean it. I personally prefer to let my hair air dry instead of blowdrying it. At night, I like to apply oil on the length and ends, and I usually braid it to avoid damage during the night (bonus: heatless waves!)
I have been doing the water washing method for a month now and I will be sure to keep you updated on my progress!