Is Washing Your Hair With Only Water Good?

Learn the right technique to make the most of this shampoo-free routine.

Reviewed by Madison DufourMadison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist
By Arshiya SyedaArshiya Syeda  • 

People are moving away from shampooing their hair, whether it is due to the ’no-poo’ trend or simply laziness. But is washing your hair with only water good for its health? No soaps, no conditioners, no oils are used in this natural method of washing your hair! If you are skeptical about shampoos, especially those containing harsh chemicals, you might also consider joining this bandwagon. The question is, does it work, and will your hair remain oily and dirty? Read on to find out the benefits and drawbacks of this seemingly unusual washing method.

What Washing Your Hair With Only Water Does

Woman washing hair with water

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The hair follicles produce natural oils that moisturize the hair and keep it soft and shiny. Shampoos contain chemicals that strip away this natural moisture. This dries out the hair and makes it dull and brittle. It also encourages the follicles to produce excess natural oils, making the hair greasier.

Washing the hair with only water, on the other hand, does not strip the hair off the natural oils but removes the dirt and sweat. The neutral pH of water also prevents scalp infections. Basically, you can wash your hair without the so-called magic work of chemical-laden shampoos, allowing the scalp to regulate the amount of oil without the influence of the shampoos and conditioners stripping or depositing moisture.

But unless you have traveled in time, you must be using shampoo to wash your hair all your life. Transitioning to a no-shampoo hair wash routine can take some time. Scroll down to know how to make the transition period smooth.

How To Transition To No-Poo Hair Washing

Woman washing hair with only water and not using shampoo

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The best way to transition to a water-only hair washing routine is to decrease using shampoo gradually. For example, if you shampoo your hair twice a week, do it once a week. Alternatively, you can dilute the shampoo with water to minimize using shampoo. After 3-4 weeks, stop using shampoo at all.

While transitioning into the no-poo phase and beginning to use shampoo less, continue using conditioner for the first week or two, until you are only using conditioner. And then do the process again, washing with only conditioner and rinsing with only water in between washes. But the process takes less time with conditioner and will only take 2 conditioner washes before stopping entirely.
Initially, your hair will feel greasy for a few weeks of transitioning to a no-poo routine. To tackle this “icky” feeling, use a dry shampoo to keep your hair going-out-ready. Most of all, be patient while you transition.

Even after transitioning to a shampoo-free lifestyle you still need to wash your hair regularly to maintain healthy hygiene. Wash your hair with water at least once a week, even after transitioning.

StyleCraze Says
A hack to deal with the icky, greasy feeling in the initial days is to use a soft bristle brush to distribute the oils along the lengths of your hair.

But the most important question is, should you use hot water or cold to wash your hair? Find out below.

Should You Use Hot Or Cold Water?

Woman using cold water for hair wash

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Avoid washing the hair with hot water. Instead, use lukewarm and cold water (preferably room temperature water). Lukewarm water opens the hair cuticles and washes off the trapped dirt, dust, pollution, and sweat. Finish your hair wash with cold water to close the hair cuticles to prevent frizz and dryness. Ensure that you do not use ice-cold water as it may dry out the hair, make it appear lifeless, and make you fall sick.

Apart from not stripping the hair’s natural oils, what are the other benefits of washing hair with only water? Scroll down to find out.

Benefits Of Water-Only Wash

Woman with healthy hair

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  • The hair remains moisturized and shiny.
  • No more dry and dull hair.
  • No more product buildup, including the shampoo residues.
  • The hair becomes softer.
  • No more tangles due to excessive dryness.
  • A cost-effective way to wash your hair.
  • Allows hassle-free travel.

But is it possible that only a specific hair type benefits the most from this hair washing method? Or does it work for all hair types? Let’s find out in the following section.

Which Type Of Hair Benefits The Most?

Woman with different types of hair

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If you have natural or curly, kinky, dry, or coarse hair, you would probably benefit the most by avoiding shampoo. That’s because curly and kinky hair is porous and requires moisturization and natural oils. A water-only hair wash routine will help preserve the natural oils.

You can use lukewarm and cold water to wash off the dirt and dust and then follow it up with a good conditioner. However, don’t be discouraged if you have straight or wavy hair. You can also transition to washing your hair with only water and reap all the benefits it has to offer.

Now the golden question is, is there a flipside? Are there any cons of a water-only hair wash routine? What could avoiding shampoo do to your hair? Find out next.

What Can Avoiding Shampoo Do To Your Hair?

  • If you use hard water, the mineral deposits will not be thoroughly washed off using just water.
  • Even if you use soft water, your hair will not be 100% dirt-free or chemical-free as you will be using a conditioner. You might notice a slight texture change in your hair. This does not mean that your hair is dry or brittle or damaged, it has just transitioned and is now chemical-free.
  • If you have an oily scalp or hair, getting a fresh feeling that shampoos impart can be difficult.
  • If you already have dandruff, treating it with an anti-dandruff shampoo is more effective and easier than washing your hair with just water.

Before you get confused and think, “what am I supposed to do?” here’s an alternative solution to washing your hair with just water. Take a look.

Alternatives To Water-Only Wash

  • You can add apple cider vinegar to water in a 1:4 ratio to cleanse your hair of dirt and grease.
  • Add the juice of one lime to a bucket of water. Wash your hair with the mixture to keep the scalp clean, hair shiny, and prevent smelly hair, lice, and dandruff.
  • You may use a clay mask to keep your hair clean.
StyleCraze Says
You can also use baking soda as a gentle exfoliant to keep the scalp clean and manage dandruff issues.

Shampoos contain harsh chemicals and surfactants. It takes a lot of courage to avoid them. The simplest way to switch to a shampoo-free hair washing routine is to reduce the amount of shampoo you use gradually. However, simply washing your hair with water will leave it dry and oily, and it will take some time to get used to it. The best approach to maintain your hair clean, healthy, lustrous, and dandruff-free is to use water-only hair wash substitutes like lemon, apple cider vinegar, and clay.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you wash your hair with only water?

You can wash your hair with just water every other day, provided the water is not hard. If the water is hard, use a filter to soften it before using it.

Can I wash my hair with only cold water?

No, it is best not to use just cold water to wash your hair. It will make your hair dull and lifeless. Plus, it won’t remove any dirt and grease. Use lukewarm water to open the cuticles and wash away dirt, grease, and sweat. Then, use room temperature water to close the cuticles and prevent frizz.

Does wetting your hair everyday damage it?

Yes, if the water is hard. It can lead to mineral deposits and an itchy scalp. Use a filter if the water is hard no matter how many times you wash your hair.

Key Takeaways

  • The no-poo trend urges people not to use any shampoo or conditioner to cleanse their hair.
  • Water helps cleanse your hair while maintaining its natural pH and moisture balance.
  • Give your hair some time to transition from chemical-based hair care products to plain lukewarm or cold water to see any visible changes.


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