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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Leave a comment


  1. 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!

  2. Handsome

    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.

    1. Anonymous

      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.

    2. Hi, Handsome. I left a really long comment response on this page to “Alex” about the flaking / dandruff, hopefully that information helps you. I don’t know how to directly link you to the comment, but you can Ctrl+F and search for “dandruff” to find it on this page!

  3. Nikki

    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 :(

    1. Hi Nikki, Have you tried my tips from my other post?: How to Transition to No-Poo Without Looking Oily / How to Train your Scalp’s Overactive Oil Production [Initial Oily Transitional Phase FIXES] There are a few tips in that post about how to ease into the initially oily transition and how to manage oils on your head. If you can already go 4 days without feeling oily, you may want to try using the dry shampoo recipe listed in that post, just to get another day in before having to wash your hair. A slow transition may be a good idea for you. You could even keep using the shampoos you currently use since they seem to have gentle ingredients, but use the dry shampoo recipe to stretch one more day in between washes until your hair gets used to going 5 days without washing. Then add in another day, etc. Or try alternating water-only washes and shampooing bi-weekly.

  4. 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.

    1. Hi Ella, how is water-only going for you? Have you noticed any changes in your hair thickness? P.S. If you are experiencing hair thinning, I recommend going to a doctor and getting your blood tested (especially your iron levels), because it may be something you can fix with supplements or changing your diet. Also, hair loss / thinning can be a side effect of horomonal changes, oftentimes caused by hormonal birth control. I’m not sure if this is relevant to you, but I thought I’d throw this info out there in case it helps you in some way.

  5. sherry

    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.

    1. Liz

      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. =)