3 Month Update: The Ultimate Water Only Hair Washing Routine – [No Shampoo!] – RESULTS

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3 Month Update on The Ultimate Water Only Hair Washing Routine - No Poo - Day 4 Header

I can’t believe it’s already been 4 months since I started “no poo,” and 3.5 months since I went water-only! I am definitely out of the oily transitional phase and still going strong on water-only, so figured it was time to post an update to my Ultimate Water-Only Hair Washing Routine.

These pictures were all taken in the same lighting, room, and with the same camera as they were in the Ultimate Water-Only Hair Washing Routine post for a more accurate assessment of progress. Note that in the Day 4 pictures, I had just slathered shea butter on the lower part of my hair so I could flat iron it straight and assess how much it grew for this post. (: The shea butter soaked up in a few hours and dried very soft, which you can see in the Day 8 pictures (blue shirt).

How often do I wash my hair now? Once every 7-10 days with just water.

How many days can I go without washing before my hair gets oily now? My hair actually doesn’t get oily anymore, not even after 10 days of not washing it! :D

How long did the oily transitional phase last? / How did I get out of it? It took me approximately 2 weeks to stop looking excessively oily and about 2 months to get completely out of the initial oily phase to the point where my hair just doesn’t get oily anymore. I followed these tips from my other post to get through the oily transition as quickly as possible.

What does it feel like? My hair feels different…  definitely healthier, soft and hydrated, slightly heavier, and it’s a little harder to run my fingers through my roots than if I used shampoo. But I really don’t mind the new texture! It gives my hair more body, thickness, and volume at the roots!

Do I still get split ends? I got my hair trimmed 4 months ago, right before going no poo. With shampoo, my ends would definitely be split, dry, brittle, rough, scraggly, and in need of another trim at this point, but with water-only, they are just as healthy as the rest of my hair. They are soft, shiny (I’ve never had shiny ends), and I have very few split ends.

3 Month Update on The Ultimate Water Only Hair Washing Routine - No Poo - Day 4 Ends of Hair

Growth? It has definitely grown ~2 inches over the past 4 months. This is a good rate of growth, but I also eat a lot of fruits/veggies/nuts and a multi-vitamin so this much growth is normal for me. :) The difference here is that my ends are healthy so I can keep growing it without having to trim off the new progress.

Does it smell? Okay so I’ve been doing routine smell checks since I started no poo (for science), :) because I’m paranoid about smelling bad. So for the first 5-7 days after a water-wash without any fragrances added, my hair doesn’t smell like anything. That’s a decently long time! After that, I’ll sometimes notice my scalp (not my hair) smells like… well hair. It’s not like I can smell it wafting off of me or anything, but I can smell it if I rub my fingers on my scalp and sniff (oh god this is TMI). It doesn’t really smell bad, but it doesn’t smell like flowers and dandelions or what I’m used to. So if it doesn’t smell that nice, then I’ll add the tiniest drop of a blend of really fragrant shea butter/coconut butter (that smells like french vanilla mixed with chocolate… mmm) to my scalp and hair and it completely refreshes the scent. No more scalp smell. Dry shampoo also deodorizes it very well, and this DIY recipe makes my scalp & hair smell like chocolate. Boar-bristle brushing also helps keep any scalp smells from building up at the roots. There are actually loads of ways to make your hair smell like flowers and dandelions or whatever you want while on No Poo / water-only, so I’ll have to make a separate post for that soon.

How is my scalp acting? Great! No issues here.

Do I still have to boar-bristle brush it in sections every day? Nope! Spending time each day to section my hair and brush the natural oils through it was the one time-consuming, downside to water-only, but I really don’t have to do it anymore! Right before I wash my hair, I’ll still scritch & brush it to make washing easier, and I’ll probably scritch/brush once more during the 7-10 days between washes. But I don’t have to do it daily anymore since my hair no longer gets oily. I do brush my hair every day for a minute just to soften the look and style it for the day. Most importantly, I keep my brush really clean between uses as to not add last week’s oils back onto this week’s hair.

3 Month Update on The Ultimate Water Only Hair Washing Routine - No Poo - Day 8

How has my hair dye lasted? I got my hair dyed a semi-permanent dark color the day I switched to no-poo (4 months ago). With shampoo, the color would typically last me ~6 weeks and then start to fade. However, this time the color was strong for ~3 months, and only during this past month has it faded a bit. Pictured above on the left is what my hair color looks like when my camera isn’t beefing up the contrast to solar flare status. You can see my blondeish-brownish roots coming in. Pretty good for 4 months after a semi-permanent dye! Pictured right is a contrast-y shot so you can see if my hair looks oily. Spoiler: it doesn’t. :)

Manageability? Styling? My hair is very manageable now. My natural hair oils act like a styling product. I can make my hair super voluminous with the flick of my hand fluffing it up, or flat to my head if I wanted. It’s like there’s a natural hairspray in it. I really don’t need to do anything to my hair anymore. It’s weird standing in front of the mirror expecting to have to do something to my hair, but there’s just nothing to do. Hallelujah.

Do I use any styling products? Nope. The only things I put on my hair now are shea butter (for added hydration on the ends of my hair or for heat protection) and the rare usage of homemade dry shampoo (like once per month maybe) just to make my style fluffier.

Do I use heat to style my hair? I don’t have to! And that’s certainly an improvement since going no poo. With shampoo, I had to use heat to tame my dry/damaged hair every time I styled it, but now I can let my hair air dry which used to be out of the question before. Now around 1-2 times per month I’ll use a flat iron, and I use shea butter as a natural heat protectant during those times. I’ll write more on natural heat protects another day. :)

Do I still use coconut oil to hydrate the ends of my hair? I actually switched from straight coconut oil to using this shea butter/cocoa butter blend that has some coconut oil in it. I prefer using the shea butter blend as it dries less greasy and works excellently to hydrate the ends of my hair in winter. I literally just slathered the shea butter all over the bottom 2/3 of my hair right before taking the Day 4 pictures so I could flat iron it a little bit to assess the length. It definitely dries much less greasy than straight coconut oil, and completely absorbs into my “low porosity” hair within a few hours.

Will I continue to use only water to wash my hair? YES. I am very happy with my hair!

Would I recommend others try water-only? YES.

3 Month Update on The Ultimate Water Only Hair Washing Routine - No Poo - Day 4

How is water-only going for you? Post your update in the comments!

37 thoughts on “3 Month Update: The Ultimate Water Only Hair Washing Routine – [No Shampoo!] – RESULTS

    Anonymous said:
    January 10, 2015 at 7:19 am

    excellent, I hope I can do…


    KimYean said:
    January 19, 2015 at 7:47 am

    I can’t wait for your post on how to make the hair smell like flowers and dandelions!
    Sounds like a must try thing! =D

    Liked by 1 person

    Kara said:
    January 19, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I LOVE the water-only method. I’ve been going at it since late August and honestly my hair’s never looked better. It’s always soft and shiny and my natural waves are tamed as if I spent hours styling them. I too am normally able to go 7-10 days between washes or longer, but I’m with you on keeping the schedule for the Zen feeling of water flowing through your hair, haha. Problem is over the weekend I was at this foam party, which got it all squeaky clean shampoo does! Ugh! Now it’s all fluffy and dry and oddly CLEAN and I’m hoping it finds its groove back to its water-only glory after a couple of days. It’s Day 2 post-foam though, and it still has no oil whatsoever (during my shampoo days I’d get grease the very next day, and that’s saying something since my hair is thick, dark and wavy)! Guess my body found its balance with the oil production after months of water-only. :) Seriously, people. Go try it.

    Liked by 1 person

      Just Primal Things Blog said:
      January 26, 2015 at 12:28 am

      I’m glad water-only is going well for you! It definitely sounds like your scalp’s oil production has normalized. So if you used shampoo once, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. If you can, I would try to use a low-poo (sulfate-free shampoo) instead of regular shampoo so it doesn’t strip the natural oils off your hair as much. You might notice your hair will get oily sooner after shampoo, but it will probably not be as excessively oily as if you were shampooing all the time, and should go back to normal after a week. A major downside to using shampoo if you like the benefits of water-only, is your hair isn’t coated in its natural oils anymore, so it’s prone to frizz and the ends can appear dry. Using shampoo more than just one time will start to throw your scalp out of balance again, so just be wary of that. I do not recommend using shampoo (read: low-poo) more often than once per month, but everyone’s body reacts a bit differently.


    Izzy said:
    January 30, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I really want to try this but I have fine curly hair & have to use gel to make my curls look nice. I don’t know if I can get away with water only & still use my beloved gel (even though it’s a better crunchy non chemical gel) Any advise for someone like me?


      Alexia Oliveira said:
      February 10, 2015 at 2:50 am

      Hi Izzy
      How about aloe vera gel? or some water soluble gel?
      Just read the labels, I am sure you will find a solution!
      I am doing WO as well, and my hair looks great.


        Izzy said:
        February 12, 2015 at 1:17 pm

        Thanks Alexia, I use Morroccan Method hair gel, I’m pretty sure it’s water soluble. My goal is to get to a place where I no longer need it.


    hannchula said:
    February 7, 2015 at 5:13 am

    Reblogged this on hannchula.


    hannchula said:
    February 13, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    i have a question. i have very fine, long and oily hair. i brush it gently, always detangle it first with my plastic tho seamless comb(though even combing might do little damage sometimes i think)… but…i noticed now that after every time i brush it with my bbb, my hair is split, ripped and just not a nice sight..sigh.. what should i do? i have medium strong bbb, and also very soft one, but either way i get some hair ripped..should i not brush anymore? have you ever encountered that before with your hair?
    btw i love your blog:)
    thank you for your answers :)


      whatispeoplefood said:
      March 5, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Oh goodness, I have the same hair type, and had the exact same problem about a year ago when I first started using a BBB! Totally DESTROYED the ends of my hair. Turned out that using a full BBB was super bad for it, even a soft one. I fixed this issue by switching my brush. Actually, I have two brushes now; both from Widu since the quality is excellent and a lot of the Amazon reviews said they could last for 10+ years. One is a brush with wood bristles for everyday use since it’s easier to keep clean, and one is a mixed brush with some boar bristles and some wood bristles for “deep conditioning” my hair with the natural oils every now and again. The mixed brush is miles better for my hair than the full BBB ever was, while still giving me the benefits of boar bristles. =)

      As for me, I don’t wash my hair at all anymore. I did water only for about 4 months, but it never really got out of the transition stage, so I washed it 3 times with Morrocco Method shampoos over the course of the next month. I still have about a bottle and a half left for back-up just in case I go swimming in the ocean or get something gross in my hair. I’m a mom, so that’s a real possibility. My last hair wash was on Feb. 7th (yes, I still shower) and I haven’t washed it since; not even with water. It’s super healthy and looks a ton better than it did on water only for some reason. I wouldn’t say it’s TOTALLY out of transition stage at this point, but it’s looking noticibly better as time goes on. I don’t scritch or preen anymore since it was just making my hair overly oily. Just detangle it with a detangler, then brush it so it looks nice with the wooden brush. It doesn’t have any smell. Although sometimes I think it smells like distilled water. Yes, distilled water has a smell, and yes, my sense of smell is very sensitive. My husband says my nose is like a dog’s nose, ha ha. But sometimes I put a couple drops of lemon essential oil on my wooden brush and brush my hair to let it smell like lemons. It also smells like chocolate when I put a shea butter mix on the ends that’s really similar to the one mentioned on this blog. Looove it. =)

      Liked by 2 people

        Liz said:
        March 14, 2015 at 1:04 pm

        Huh, guess I was wrong about scritching, massaging, and preening! My hair seem to love these after all; guess it was the daily brushing that was just making it extra greasy. Good thing I love experimenting! =P

        Liked by 1 person

    Fizz said:
    February 14, 2015 at 11:45 am

    What type of haircut did you have here? Would love to get the same hairstyle!


    Madison Skye said:
    February 24, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks for all this info! I went no-poo almost week ago and was starting to wonder if this transition would ever end. I really appreciate that you included the hair dye info. I like to keep my own a nice shade of violet. Nice to know good things are ahead!


    Handsome said:
    March 2, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Alright, my hair is still oily and flaky after the two months and two days. Do you think it’s gonna get better or do I go ahead and use a shampoo? There is a small change in my scalp felt a little better, but not much different from my old oily hair.


      Anonymous said:
      April 11, 2015 at 6:01 am

      I used shikakai for a year and then started washing only and using glycerine on my scalp to make sure it was moisturizer and the transition period was so natural and easy so I thought I’d share what worked for me.


    Nikki said:
    March 7, 2015 at 4:06 am

    I tried doing the water-only method and I caved in after a week. I just couldn’t get my hair to stop feeling so thick and greasy even after brushing it with a wooden brush and scritching and preening everyday. My hair just failed to look presentable no matter how hard I tried and I felt extremely self conscious when going to class or to any public place for that matter. It didn’t really have a scent, but it just felt uncomfortable and my scalp was always itchy. I use Desert Essence and 100% Pure as my shampoo and conditioner and I don’t feel greasy until Day 4.Compared to the water method, I felt like I had to shower everyday because I couldn’t get all that grease out no matter how long I stayed in the shower trying to get it all out. I really wanted this method to work, but I guess it isn’t for everyone :(


    Ella Riddler said:
    March 12, 2015 at 5:46 am

    I have been doing this.. Still transitioning. But my hair was thinning and I want my hair to stay thick since I am still a kid.. Hoping I get good results.

    Liked by 1 person

    sherry said:
    March 15, 2015 at 2:51 am

    I find his method requires me to know my hair better. And I’ve actually got my mom doing it now too. Knowing what brushes to use when and what pics or combs make the biggest difference for us. We do color our hair and the last time I went to the colorist I went ahead and let her wash my hair and now I’m having to try to get my balance back so from now on I’m not gonna have the colorist use any product on my hair besides the color. Does anyone else find that sometimes you feel like you’re wearing a helmet? My mom and I joke about this all the time.


      Liz said:
      April 15, 2015 at 2:24 am

      I’ve read that the “helmet feeling” often happens with people because sebum has oil properties and wax properties. When people do water-only, sometimes they wash away the oily parts while leaving the waxy parts behind, thus creating the helmet feeling. I never really seemed to transition out of water only even after four months, which is why I’m doing sebum-only now; basically just “dry cleaning” my hair with the scritch, massage, and preen techniques. Since I’m not washing away the oils, it makes it easier to preen, which means that there’s no helmet feeling and my hair is evenly coated with sebum, so it feels a LOT better. =)


    hairtrip said:
    March 17, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Could you please do a post on how to keep the hair from not smelling bad? I’m just short of completing a month and while my hair is definitely doing great and I don’t see myself turning away from the water only method, I do have an odd odor in my scalp when I run my fingers through it and that’s the only thing that worries me. I don’t want to undo the good that’s come out of no-poo only water just because of this. Would really appreciate your advice.


    Alex said:
    March 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    WO is seriously the bomb. After just a month, my lifeless, mousy, greasy dark hair has an insane amount of body and is super soft. I have one issue, though.

    I have dandruff.

    Like, really horrible, looks-like-someone-threw-Ritz-crumbs-all-over-my-scalp hair.

    It looks a lot better after washing (WO) obviously but it gets bad fast.

    My gut tells me to just wash it (WO) slightly more frequently, like a couple times a week, and my body won’t have an issue with overproducing oils anymore because it seems I’m out of transition.

    I could be totally wrong though.

    Wat do?


      Liz said:
      April 15, 2015 at 2:19 am

      Hmm, I’ve never had an issue with dandruff or flakes, but I’ve heard that using a really stiff boar bristle brush has helped some people clean off their flakes. I have issues with boar bristles, but another option might be to use horn combs to clean the flakes out. A lice/mustache comb is the finest kind of comb available and will probably clean stuff out the most, but make sure to detangle first! Some people start combing with a wide-tooth horn comb, then work their way using finer and finer combs until they get to that one. I have a wide tooth horn comb myself, but just ordered a coarse/fine combo comb too, and will most likely order a lice/mustache one as well later down the line. =)


      billyboo said:
      May 6, 2015 at 11:19 am

      alma powder or teatree oil fix dandruff


    Mary said:
    April 8, 2015 at 4:05 am

    Hi! I have been WO for about two months now, did wash my roots once with sulfate free shampoo as the build-up was getting too much (i have pretty oily skin as well). But when I ttried your method, and really scrubbed my scalp under the shower, my hair is more oily afterwards! What Could i try differently?


    Lafarrah said:
    April 8, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I’ve been loving this blog. I’d be interested to know if you (Ms. Blogger) are still using the water-wash method.

    I’m almost three weeks into the water-washing and am happy to find the overwhelming grease factor settling down. But a new (and maybe worse!) development: my scalp has been flaking pretty badly (I’ve been picking out pieces. EUGH), and my hair looks legitimately “dirty” at this point. (I water wash every 4-5 days and have only used a tad bit of arrowroot powder/baby powder once or twice.) Any tips? Will this get better?

    The texture is also bothering me…it just feels “off.” And my hair looks soft and together right after I brush it, but it gets kind of lank and stringy only a few minutes after. Any suggestions from anyone?

    Finally, does anyone have any thoughts about how hair masks (with bananas, avocados, etc.) work with this? Is water alone strong enough to rinse the food out of your hair? :)

    Many thanks to whomever can address these things!

    Liked by 1 person

      Liz said:
      April 15, 2015 at 2:10 am

      For me, my hair’s texture always felt way off after I brushed it with boar bristles. Even my mixed brush with wooden/boar bristles needs to be used sparingly, since the deep conditioning effects are so great Using it as a makeshift dry body brush now. =P I switched to just using the scritch/massage/preen finger techniques, and I now use horn combs as well. They come in a variety of sizes; I’ve been using a wide-tooth one, ordered a combo coarse/fine tooth comb, and will most likely get a lice/mustache comb as well since this is the finest kind of comb available. Horn tooth combs seem to work better for my hair than boar bristles brushes do, although I do still use my wooden bristle brush for styling. =)

      Also, I’m pretty sure that water alone wouldn’t be enough to rinse food out of your hair, especially if it’s oily food like avocado. A diluted low-shampoo option would probably be a better fit for that, so if you’re OK with that it might be alright every now and again. =)


    ashley said:
    April 14, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I am considering this method, well actually I just started it on day 4 of water only. I tried baking soda and it killed my hair (and a couple brushes and combs too).. Does anyone here work out a lot? I usually hit the gym 4-5 days a week and my head sweats A LOT. Should I rinse with water every day when I go to the gym?

    Liked by 1 person

      Liz said:
      April 15, 2015 at 2:02 am

      I’m not doing water-only anymore; have moved on to something called “sebum-only”, where I just “dry clean” my hair by scritching, massaging, and preening. But I wanted to say that I noticed sweat actually cleans my hair pretty well; it’s basically just like a salt-water mist. No smells or anything like that on my end (sweat actually doesn’t have a smell from my understanding, there will only be a smell if there’s an overgrowth of bacteria), but if you have issues then maybe a couple drops of essential oils in your water wash should do the trick? I also use horn combs now which is said to have deodorizing properties, so that might help some if you have issues with that as well. =D

      Liked by 1 person

    Grace said:
    April 22, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    I am so glad I found your blog!!! I started the ‘no-poo’ 3 days ago and I thought that the ACV and baking soda was okay for my hair!!!! Ouch. Now I am trying to get my scalp to normalize its oil :( I’m for sure going to do the water only! I have extremely thick hair (I mean so thick that every hairdresser I go to says its the thickest they’ve ever seen! -crazy!!) and (I think) its healthy- so I’m really excited about trying this water only! Where can I buy the best BBB brush? I’m still in high school so I have to go to school everyday which is gonna be hard without a BBB brush yet… but I’m on the road to healthy hair!! Yay! Thanks for all of your posts! They really help a bunch and I hope this goes well!


    Guy said:
    April 22, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Im a dude, short hair (growing it out a little) I used to wash my hair everyday and I had to use soo much product, but I wanted to have a more natural look, so I washed my hair everyday with cold water but started shampooing every other day. Im down to shampooing once a week, and thats only because I run and have things like leafs and seeds on my hair that are hard to clean out. Im happy to say that I dont use any hair product and my hair stays in place.

    Liked by 2 people

    Naina said:
    April 24, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Hi I have a question..
    I am planning to start with my water only washing routine and while I was in the process of gathering the products required i.e boar bristle brush, wide toothed comb, etc, I purchased RAINFOREST MOISTURE HAIR BUTTER by BODY SHOP as a substitute of the shea butter recommended by you ( since i could not find the one that you had suggested).
    But when I came home, i read the instructions on the butter and it says that you have to WASH IT OFF after applying in on the hair for 5-10 minutes..

    My question is that if i wash it off, wouldn’t it be like using a shampoo , since it’ll take away my hair’s natural oils along with it .. My hair is wavy/partially curly which makes them frizzy and difficult to tame.Therefore, I can’t survive without a butter or conditioner, etc. Also, since my hair will stink during the transition phase, i want to use some fragrance on it as well..

    Kindly please advice on how should I proceed and what should i use?

    P.S. Apart from this i have a shea & cocoa body butter for skin. In case that can be of any use.


      Chelsea said:
      April 27, 2015 at 12:44 am

      I suggest using the hair butter just on the ends of the hair and washing it out with cold water since you will probably need the extra hydration when you first begin. You’ll notice later on that you will eventually not need to use the hair butter. As for fragrance, it really isn’t necessary because you will notice that your hair won’t have much of a scent to it.


        Naina said:
        May 4, 2015 at 5:51 am

        Thank you so much! :)


    Singleton said:
    April 27, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Is anyone else having a problem with overly waxy hair? How can I get the waxiness to go away with just water?


      Naina said:
      May 4, 2015 at 5:51 am

      Hello.. I am having the same problem :( The waxy hair is mostly due to hard wateer.
      After a lot of research, I found that apple sauce will help to reduce the waxiness..with some Vit C in it
      It is not a wash/rinse method.
      It Only removes wax build up.
      I’ll be trying that tomorrow..hopefully, it’ll fix the problem


        billyboo said:
        May 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

        alma powder is pretty good too


    new_to_h2only said:
    May 3, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Hi! Thank you SO MUCH for these three water-only hairwash articles!! They’re so informative and I feel really excited about how my own hair will look in a few weeks :) I’ve just started water-only washing, and at first I felt really oily at the scalp but after reading your article on brushing to distribute the oils, it’s starting to feel better. I have a few questions though? Where I live, it’s *really* hot and humid, and I spend a lot of time outside and I come back home dripping in sweat. After reading your articles, I decided not to wash my hair today, but I washed it two days in a row since it’s so hot out here and my scalp felt horrible :( I’m a bit confused you see, you said to try and go 7 days without washing so that the scalp can normalize with the oil production, right? So what should I do when I come back home from a really sweaty day? Just cool down, scritch, prime, and brush my hair for 7 days? And use a teeny bit of baking soda as dry shampoo? I guess I should’ve started this new routine in the winter lol! ALSO, since I’ve just started all this, my hairbrush is getting really dirty; will that go away or is it cos I’m just so sweaty all the time? Your hair looks so nice in these photos I really can’t wait for my own hair to finally not be frizzy :))


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