the great hair experiment

small mirror

Who is that woman I see in the mirror?
I don’t recognize her at all.
Where is the child I saw just this morning
with her games and her toys and her dolls?
Where did she come from and where is she going?
I don’t really know her at all.
Who is that woman I see in the mirror?
I don’t recognize her at all.

Remember some time ago that we all laughed at that “No-Poo” shampoo? Well it turned out that it was a part of the No Poo method where you don’t use shampoo on your hair. The whole “No Poo” part is a little too cutesy for me but the idea has been swimming around in my brain for a while.

I have very dry, fine, fragile hair and a dry scalp. I generally only shampoo every two or three days and usually by the third day, my hair and scalp feel greasy and dirty. After shampooing, my hair was frizzy and my scalp dry and flaky. So I tried things like olive oil but whatever good that does is washed away with the shampooing you need to do to wash it out. Then recently, the Better Homes & Gardens that won’t stop coming recommended V05 hot oil treatment which has been around at least since I was a kid. We haven’t found a better solution with all the new technology and products in the past fifty years?

Then I remembered the no shampoo method I read about some months ago. I didn’t have much hope. As I said, my hair felt greasy and dirty after about three days when using shampoo, even while the ends were dry and fly away. But I thought I’d try it.

The conditioner only method is recommended for dry and curly hair. You scrub your scalp with a small amount of conditioner and rinse, then work more conditioner than you’d probably normally use from scalp to end, clip it up and do the rest of your shower before rinsing with cool water (to help keep the cuticle flat). A different method is suggested for oily hair.

It’s been almost three weeks since I shampooed my hair. The first surprise was my hair doesn’t get greasy even after four days – though depending on what I’m doing, my scalp does feel dirty by then. My curls are soft and much less frizzy. I’m still having some issues with dry scalp but I made the mistake of starting this from memory instead of reading the articles again. Many of the articles recommended using a clarifying shampoo first to remove build up. I didn’t do that. I used sulfate free products (which, by the way, are usually not sulfate free – read the bottles carefully) but many of them, particularly conditioners, contain silicone or dimethicone. Silicone is used for that slippery, slick feeling. The problem is that it coats your hair and ultimately makes it drier. That coating, I suspect, is why when I wet my hair in the shower, it suddenly feels gunky. That feeling goes away after I “wash” it with conditioner so perhaps it’s washing some of the build up out.

Since I just bought two of my favorite tea tree oil conditioner, I will have to shampoo my hair once in a while until I use it up. Then I will switch to a conditioner that is silicone and paraben free. The Body Shop has a line of sulfate, silicone and paraben free hair products that I plan to try. I’m particularly interested in the detangling spray – who knew that No More Tangles was full of silicone and parabens? Oh, and most styling products contain the dreaded silicones or parabens too.

I’m pleased with this experiment so far. I could live with the progress I’ve made even if I have to shampoo now and then. I’m interested in trying the new products, but frugal. I have a whole cupboard of half used shampoos and conditioners that I ended up not liking. It’s hard to just throw that stuff away but when am I going to use it? I really should clean that out. It just seems like such a waste.

By the way, skin lotions and creams, face wash and creams, body wash… all tend to contain the sulfates, silicones and parabens. I haven’t tried the alternatives yet and some of what I use are actually free of the evil three, but what I’m reading is that these things dry out your skin as well. It doesn’t really matter if they feel good going on if they are drying out my skin. So I may be trying out a number of new things as I run out of what I have. Neutrogena Naturals is a line I plan to try.

We’ll see. I don’t really trust fads and I wonder if this is just a fad. On the other hand, some of the comments I’ve read have people who have not used shampoo in a decade. Has anyone else tried this method or the newer sulfate, silicone and paraben free products?

Added 08/22

I had a memory this morning and I thought I’d put it here, where probably no one will read it. Heh. When I was little, my mom washed our hair (and her own) with Ivory Soap. I remember arguing with her when I was in junior high or high school and home ec or something had educated me on shampoo. She didn’t feel like shampoo got her hair clean enough. For a long time, she washed her hair with Ivory Soap and then shampooed. I’m willing to bet that other mothers or grandmothers did the same thing when shampoo was newer. Shampoo, by the way, was invented in the 1930s. Prior to that, most women washed their hair with soap every two weeks. Remember when women got their hair washed and set once per week?

So, when you talk about something relatively new, like the trendy no-shampoo method, remember that what is normal now was new and different once upon a time.


10 thoughts on “the great hair experiment”

  1. I never have. My thick hair doesn’t give me much of a problem. I wash it most days. No conditioner. Right now it needs a trim and is driving me nuts!!


  2. I like Aveeno sulfate-free shampoo & conditioner. I use Living Proof leave-in conditioner after I wash, condition and dry my hair [squeezing the water out with an old 100% cotton t-shirt]. Then I use Aveda Be Curly. Somehow the combo of those items allows my curls/waves to do their thing without too much frizz. As for the avoiding shampoo altogether approach, haven’t tried it. I’m old school: I like to wash my hair.


    1. Awww Ally, you make it sound so dirty. 😉

      You really are washing your hair, you’re just not using shampoo to do it. And I know it sounds weird and I was not expecting it to really work. Still not sure how I’ll feel long term but I can’t remember the last time it looked or felt this good.

      Probably not right for everyone, but then nothing is. But for those interested in trying it, I wouldn’t be afraid.


  3. I bought the very pricey “10” line that is sulfate free. My hair is fine, thick and very long. so far it is responding well to the product.


    1. Whatever works for you, you know? I’m glad you found something that works well for you and I don’t want to turn the comments into an argument. But everyone should read their labels. There are often alternative sulfates in sulfate free shampoos – doesn’t make sense to me but it’s true. And silicone or dimethicone as well as parabens. If the various articles I’ve read are valid, all those things may damage your hair in the long run. But if you’re happy with them, then that’s what matters, right?

      (I’ve tried to write this a couple different times, I really am not trying to argue. Just saying it might be worth considering the hippy new age idea.)

      I don’t know if I will stick with the no shampoo method. I guess it’ll depend on whether it keeps working for me long term or not. Still it’s an interesting experiment.


  4. I had no idea this was an argument. I have heard others trying the no poo thing who swear by it. If I didn’t work I would give it a try but in my work hygiene is an important issue and I have been really afraid to go poo-less for fear I would look less hygienic at least for a few days. As it is this that I am trying works pretty well, my hair looks decidedly less dry, so I am fairly satisfied.


    1. No, no…. I mean I didn’t want to try to force my opinion on anyone. Or to come across as arguing with you. See how badly I write sometimes?

      Some of the information said you’ll have 2 to 4 weeks of adjustment where your hair could look worse. I can totally see where that would be an issue at your job. I have not gone through a greasy hair phase which really surprised me.


  5. By coincidence, I haven’t washed my hair with shampoo for a week, something that’s never happened in my life. I was at the beach (in Delaware) for a week, and I swam in the ocean every day. Once a day I briefly rinsed my hair with water while in the shower but shampoo never touched my hair. I didn’t plan to do this: it just sort of happened. (And I didn’t get the idea from your post because I was off-line the entire week!) But now that I’m home (hair still untouched by shampoo) and have read just a fraction of what’s out there on The Inter-Webs about reasons to avoid shampoo, I’m definitely going to keep this up.

    A nice long shampooing feels great. I get that. It does make your scalp feel nice. But I think vinegar, rosemary rinses, baking soda and other ingredients can accomplish the same thing. I’m excited! And looking forward to never having to buy any of those hard plastic shampoo containers. The ones that our fish are eating in the oceans, which means we’re eating them too.

    Thanks for your fortuitously timed post Zazzy!


    1. What a coincidence! I’m kind of curious about the other rinses but everything I’ve read about dry curly hair suggests conditioner wash. I think right now I’ll probably be somewhere in between, washing with shampoo every couple weeks until I run out of the shampoo and conditioners I have. And who knows? I may find I want to shampoo now and then or that I don’t like the long term effects. I look forward to hearing how it works for you and what you tried.


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