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!

Check out these posts next:

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  1. Grace

    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!

    1. Hi Grace! I’m glad you find this information helpful! Baking soda is definitely something I would never recommend to anyone. It’s a shame there is a baking soda craze right now, because while it brings people to no-poo, it’s the worst kind of no poo!

      You can get a BBB brush online (Amazon) or you can usually find them at local health foods stores (like a Whole Foods) or even beauty supply stores like Sally’s. If you have super thick hair or a lot of hair, you might want to consider a wooden-bristled brush instead (like bamboo or maple bristles– pictured right). BBBs don’t seem to penetrate a section of hair very well for some people. They kind of just brush along the surface of the hair, so you have to part the hair in sections, but if you have super thick hair, a wooden bristled brush could work a lot better for you, while still distributing the natural oils through your hair.

  2. Guy

    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.

  3. Naina

    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.

    1. Chelsea

      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.

  4. Singleton

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

    1. 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

    2. Hi Singleton, How long have you been on water-only? If you’ve been on water-only for a while, it is possible that your scalp has balanced itself already, but you just have a lot of excess oils from the initial oily transitional phase still sitting on your hair. You might want to try gently cleansing your hair just once to get the oil build-up off of it, and then continuing with water only. You can use: 1) a teaspoon of raw honey diluted in water or 2) a no-poo shampoo bar followed by a diluted ACV rinse, or a super natural sulfate-free shampoo that won’t strip the natural oils off your hair, but will wash away a lot of the excess oils sitting on your hair, or 3) a silicone-free conditioner to “co-wash” your hair. Try it and go back to water-only to see if your hair stays wax-free! (Mine did.)

  5. new_to_h2only

    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 :))

    1. Hi new_to_h2only! You are welcome, thank you for the compliment!

      Do NOT use baking soda as a dry shampoo! It’s super alkaline and not the right pH for your scalp! Instead, you can safely use some cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or cocoa powder as a dry shampoo as mentioned in this post to absorb excess oils / any smells.

      How does your hair feel after you work out and the sweat dries? Does it smell? You can try just brushing through your hair with a BBB or wooden-bristled brush to see if it looks okay. If it does, leave it! You can also try the dry shampoo recipe I discussed in this post which will make your hair look non-greasy and can get rid of any odors. Or you can rinse your hair with cool water & not much scrubbing after a workout, which will wash away any dirt/sweat, but it won’t wash away all of the oils on your head (which need warm water to dissolve).

      You should clean your boar bristle brush regularly since it soaks up the oils from your hair and then the oils stay on your brush until you wash it. If your hair starts to look oily, you might be putting last weeks’ oils back onto this week’s hair with your brush. You won’t need to wash your brush very often once your oil production slows down. Here is a tutorial for how to clean your boar bristle brush.