Ultra-minimalist hair care #1 – going wild and water-only

I’ve been admiring lion manes and wolf pelts on Pinterest. They look so glorious and healthy, and they never shampoo. OK I’m not a lion or a wolf (pity), but I have pretty good mane potential myself. My hair is thick and naturally unruly. What might it look like if I kept a lion-like or wolf-like care regimen?

The closest thing, barring asking other humans to lick my hair and nuzzling their necks with my head (I have no intention of doing either), would be to do some kind of no-poo, water-only regimen and get my hair as natural as possible.


(This is one instance where there are advantages to being a female human rather than a female lion. In lion society, only the men get the great hair. In human society, we women have the best locks.)

Water-only method

I’ve done water-only twice before. Neither time did I get it quite right. So third time lucky, right?

You might wonder how you can get water-only wrong. But it’s actually quite easy to mess it up. Everyone knows that shampoo strips your hair of its essential oils, and that washing water-only helps to restore them. However the thing is, that the oils come from the scalp, and unless you give them a lot of help, they’ll stay there and make your scalp greasy and minging while the rest of your hair gets increasingly drier and more brittle, unless you take steps to get the oils away from your scalp and down your hair.

That’s what happened the first time with me. I didn’t know anything about getting the oils down the hair shaft, so I ended up with a smelly greasy scalp that was covered in dried up grey sebum, with dull, straw-like ends that stuck out at funny angles. I also didn’t know about putting my head under warm water for long enough that the grease could soften and be worked down the hair. I looked awful and I felt awful. Truly awful. That was about 8 years ago. I did it for 6 weeks and then stopped.

About a year ago I tried again. This time I did better. I rinsed my hair more often and longer with warm water. I brushed it with a boar bristle brush to get the oils to come down the hair shafts. Which it did, a bit. I lasted longer, and looked better. My hair felt thicker (even thicker, I should say, because it is pretty thick already) and did all sorts of interesting wavy things that it didn’t do before. But it still ended up dry at the bottom and I got fed up with waiting for the scalp to even outcompletely. So I took up washing with shampoo again, after about 10 or 12 weeks of no poo.

I should add at this point that I only ever use shampoo made from natural ingredients, and I wash my hair once a week at the most, and have done so all my life apart from a few months as a student when I was living with a group of girls who were addicted to washing their hair every day. As a concession to their obsession I started doing mine every second day, whereupon it got horribly dry and frizzy and flyaway, and I went back to once a week.

I have also never owned a hair dryer. The only times my hair has been dried artificially is when I have gone to get my hair cut at a salon. I also never use “product” on my hair. So my hair care regimen is pretty minimal already.

As of now, I’m going to try going no poo, 3rd time around. My hair is rather dry already, so I have been putting coconut oil on the ends which helps. If I stop shampooing, and do my best to get the sebum (natural oils) to move down my hair rather than hang around congregating and socialising at my scalp, I should gradually be able to leave off the coconut oil.

I may consider doing rice water rinses every so often. I’ve never done them before, but I understand they are like a protein bath for the hair and help smooth the surface of each strand, making them less likely to stick to each other, knot and get broken. Sounds like a good idea.

Other than that, nothing. Nowt. Niente. Nichts.

So here is my planned regimen:

  1. stop shampooing.
  2. brush carefully every day with my wooden brush (I abandoned boar bristle brushes last year as my hair is too thick and coarse for them).
  3. scritch my scalp (massage with finger tips) to loosen up sebum.
  4. oil the ends with coconut oil until the sebum coats them naturally.
  5. rinse regularly with warm water.
  6. rinse occasionally with rice water.
  7. eat as healthily as possible.

The brushing will help get rid of any foreign particles like dust that get into my hair, and encourage the oils down the hair shafts. The water should wash dirt and sweat away. The scritching loosens up the sebum on the scalp and gets the blood going, which is good for new sebum production and just making one’s head feel alive. Eating healthily is a no brainer for health in every part of the body, but I put in the “as possible” because I’m not always very good at doing it.

Today is the 11th of July, and this is what I look like. As you can see my hair is already dry and straw-like pre-experiment, and not nearly so healthy-looking as my glorious role model. I’ll check in here in a month or so to report on what happens.


Anyone else done this with success?

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