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

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Hair Care, No Shampoo, Water Only Hair Washing
Close up of water only hair washing progress after three months

I can’t believe it’s already been 4 months since I quit shampoo and 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 the pictures from the Ultimate Water-Only Hair Washing Routine post for an accurate assessment of progress.

Water Only Hair Washing Progress

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

How long can I go between water-only hair washes before my hair looks 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 softer and more 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 right before going no shampoo (~ 4 months before these pictures). 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 hydrated as the rest of my hair. They are soft, shiny (I’ve never had shiny ends), and I have very few split ends. (Pictured Below)

Close up of no poo progress four days since last wash

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 daily multi-vitamin so this much growth is normal for me. :) The difference here is that my ends didn’t dry out 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 shampoo (for science), :) because I’m paranoid about smelling bad. 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 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 a 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 made a separate post for that.

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 side 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 excessively 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.

Close up of no poo progress eight days since last wash

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.

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? 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. Check this post for natural heat protectants for No Poo.

Do I still use coconut oil to hydrate the ends of my hair? I actually switched from straight coconut oil to using a 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.

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

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  1. KimYean

    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

    1. kellyclaywoo

      You explain everything so well without bogging us down. You sound like your talking to a friend. Your a very good writer.
      I have a question. I just started “dying” my hair with coffee. I’m a current cowasher. I’d like to try water only. To keep up the coffee dying I have to do it on a regular baces. Do you think just using it along with the water would be a good idea? I mean they say it works like vinegar which I also use and seals the cuticle. I guess I could just try it. The caffeine is supposed to keep hairs from shedding as well.
      Any thoughts would be appreciated.

      1. Hi Kellyclaywoo, You should be okay to try water-only with coffee hair dying. Just pay attention to your hair over time. If it starts to get dry, change up your routine!

        1. Anonymous

          Thanks for getting back to me. I tried it for a while but I had to leave it on for so long and it would wash out. I just got tiered of having to redo it. I just started using temporary hair dye instead. Since I don’t use shampoo it’s been a month and still looks pretty fresh.

    2. Tali

      I just switched to water-only last Wednesday. Like many of my health/beauty routines it was just something I decided to do, with no preparation and for no real reason (well, the real reason is I find it really annoying how I would get greasy after one day, or my hair looked very different depending on what time of day I had washed it). I decided last night that I should probably do a little research about how long it might be before my hair stops looking awful and how I can facilitate the process and this helped enormously. Thank you!

    3. Jennifer Christman

      I go to the gym each morning, and sweat from my scalp. Would you recommend more frequent water only washes in this situation?

  2. Kara

    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.

    1. 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.

  3. Izzy

    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?

    1. Alexia Oliveira

      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.

      1. Izzy

        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.

  4. hannchula

    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 :)

    1. whatispeoplefood

      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. =)

      1. Liz

        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

      2. Hi whatispeoplefood, It is very interesting to read about your hair experience! It’s been a couple of months since you posted this… I’m curious to know more. :) How’s it going?

        1. Liz


          Sorry, I didn’t get the notification that you replied to my comment! But things are still going well with my hair, thanks for asking! I do SMP (Scritch, Massage, Preen) every day for around 30-40 minutes right now. Still use my wooden bristled Widu brush for styling, but my wooden/boar bristle mixed brush I mostly just use for dry brushing my body daily right now. I also use a couple horn combs morning and night which really help distribute the sebum well. My hair is super super soft, no smell, easily manageable, tangle-free, etc.

          I did wash it once in June with a diluted amount of Morrocco Method shampoo because I accidentally got sunscreen in my hair, but other than that, haven’t washed it since February! And it was interesting too, because after I washed it, I noticed that it was REALLY nice for about 2 weeks, but I didn’t need to go through a transition period again after that, just kinda found its natural normal again. I mostly wear it up right now because my 3-year-old kept grabbing and pulling on my hair, and it looks very nice in updos. =)

            1. Jamie

              How do you make it smell good. I’ve been doing this for a week now and it smells earthy. Is that just pet of the transition?

    2. Hi hannchula, That is no good! Your hair type just might not agree with the BBB. If this is happening to you (or anyone else reading this), please try a wooden bristled brush instead of the BBB! Wooden bristles are natural bristles and are porous like the BBB so they can also soak up the oils from your scalp and help distribute your natural oils to the ends of your hair. Wooden bristled brushes tend to have less bristles than BBBs and their bristles are typically much further apart from each other. From my experience, this makes them not as good as BBBs at distributing the oils through your hair, but they are still effective and can help you gently detangle your hair as you brush (unlike a BBB).

      If you’re already out of the initial oily transitional phase, I recommend making a wooden bristled brush your primary brush, and maybe using a BBB once per week or so to distribute oils if you need to.

    1. Hi Fizz, I just asked for long layers! I previously had shorter layers throughout my hair that I had trimmed and blended into the rest of my hair so I could grow them out. I’m also growing out my fringe so it’s a bit shorter than the rest of my hair’s length.