I Tried The "Water Only" Hair Washing Method

I’m guilty of doing a lot of damage to my hair, and one of the biggest ways I know I'm stunting my hair growth is not watering my tresses on the regular. When the water-only hair washing method appeared in my inbox from a concerned friend I knew that, as resistant as I was to wet my hair more often, it was time. Not only is washing your hair with only water super easy and supposedly effective, but my dry tresses were basically begging for it.

The only source of natural moisture is water, so while my hair styles best in a dry, matte state, it’s certainly not growing anywhere in that condition. I'm already on about that no poo life, and I only let all natural products touch my scalp. Honestly, removing these products that nourish and moisturize the hair and replacing them with only water seemed like complete blasphemy to me at first. How could water alone keep my hair shiny and healthy? Well, according to Beauty High, while hair may feel softer with conditioners, some of them can actually strip the hair of its natural oils.

The majority of water only evidence is anecdotal from natural beauty bloggers, but the people who've tried it generally swear by it. The goal is to achieve “total sebum coverage,” which means taking the oil that occurs naturally from the scalp and distributing it from the root to the ends of the hair. Basically, you're teaching your hair how to distribute oil evenly, something I was wary of trying.

For 10 days, I abandoned my usual, product-filled regimen to see if I could teach my hair how to distribute that precious sebum throughout my hair. I have to say, it felt like the biggest risk I’ve taken in my natural hair life.

1. Preparing For A Life Without Product

Washing with water only comes with one huge perk and that’s the absence of a multi-step weekly hair ritual. Before I abandoned my homemade products, I decided to make sure my hair was clean and detangled before going into my experiment. I cleansed my hair, but instead of reaching for my nutritious deep conditioner I used only warm water and massaged it into my scalp and tresses as if it were a conditioning treatment.

2. The First Few Days

My hair felt dry AF the first few days. I kept my hair in a protective braid the entire time. I didn’t feel comfortable going to bed without spritzing my natural oils in my hair. I also felt my hair becoming more frizzy than it normally would in a braid for only a few days.

3. Suffering From Product Withdrawal

I couldn’t help cringing when I removed my braid after three days to start distributing more oil throughout my hair. On the third day, I sadly washed my hair with only water and began pulling the oil throughout my tresses. My hair was in such a dire state, I wondered if I was doing it all wrong and continued doing more research on my new water only method.

4. Distributing Hair Oils

While I distributed my oil on the fifth day, I decided to give myself some light-detangling. According other bloggers who've tried this method, brushing you hair when it's wet will help distribute the sebum more in the hair. I found wetting my hair every two days was starting to really mess with my hair styles. I couldn’t be in a protective style for too long because I needed to water my hair, but I also couldn’t wear my hair out at all because it was so dry.

5. Finding Hair Solace

After I detangled my hair, I felt significantly better about the whole experiment. Suddenly, I was taking selfies of my hydrated, shiny locks in the subway without any shame. After a rocky start, I was finally starting to see results! My hair felt and looked incredibly soft.

6. The End of Hair Rinsing

After having a few days of incredible tresses, I continued on in my oil distribution. Still, as I approached the 10th day, I couldn’t wait to wash my hair with my usual hair cleanser. My hair was beginning to feel slightly greasy, but mostly it was just unmanageable and constantly tangled. I hadn’t been concerned about my hair smelling, but I was fairly certain if I continued on that would happen. Once my hair was washed, I could properly assess the water only method versus my own methods.

7. Hair Results

After my trial was over, I decided that while the water only method didn’t destroy my hair, it certainly didn’t give me a shiny head of hair after 10 days either. The water only method is a no-poo method of cleansing without sabotaging the natural oils of our hair, but if you already don't use shampoo and keep your mane chemical free (like I do) you are probably already on the right track. While this won't replace my usual hair routine, it definitely helped me realize that wetting my hair every few days and massaging my scalp with water to help distribute oils should certainly be a part of my regular agenda. If you too are guilty of going days between wettings, daring yourself to take part in this experiment is a good way to change the habit!

Image: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle (1); Kristin Collins Jackson (7)