Is Washing Your Hair With Only Water Good?

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

Reviewed by Madison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist Madison Dufour Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years

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 the no poo method 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
Image: Shutterstock

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
Image: Shutterstock

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 hair cleansing with a 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 the no-poo method. 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, natural hair care 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.

protip_icon Quick Tip
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
Image: Shutterstock

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

Jessica, a beauty and lifestyle blogger, tried the water-only method and achieved incredible results. Her greasy hair underwent a dramatic transformation. She said, “It actually worked. My hair balanced itself into an acceptable level of sebum production. This made my hair less greasy, less waxy, and more voluminous (i).”

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
Image: Shutterstock

If you have natural or curly, kinky, dry, or coarse hair, you would probably benefit the most by avoiding shampoo and opting for this eco-friendly hair care trend. 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. Further, it is a low maintenance hair care routine that requires you to invest in minimal hair care products.

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 this minimalist hair care routine of 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 hair care 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.
protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also use baking soda as a gentle exfoliant to keep the scalp clean and manage dandruff issues.

Infographic: 4 Benefits Of Water-Only Wash And Easy Alternatives

How many of you find shampooing your hair makes your scalp squeaky clean but leaves you with more dehydrated, frizzier hair than before? Well, a lot of you encounter this problem on a daily basis. This holds especially true for those with thick, curly, or kinky hair. So, why not skip your favorite shampoo and wash your hair with just water? Washing hair only with water helps cleanse the scalp without disturbing the mane’s natural pH balance and helps keep it utterly soft. Yes, it’s possible; it will help give your tresses the level of moisture you have always desired.

Without further ado, check out the infographic below to learn about the benefits and alternatives of this method.

5 benefits of water only wash and easy alternatives (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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.

Can washing your hair with only water lead to healthier hair in the long run?

Yes, it allows for an even distribution of the natural oils secreted by your scalp which provides nourishment and protects your hair from damage. It helps reduce frizz and keeps your hair shiny, making it a healthy hair care method.

How does water hardness affect washing your hair with only water?

Hard water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium which creates a layer on your hair that dries it out and leads to damage and hair fall.

Are there any disadvantages to washing your hair with only water?

If you use hair oils and other hair products for styling, a water wash won’t be enough to remove them and can lead to further buildup and hair damage. In such cases, you will have to use shampoo and conditioner to clean your hair and scalp.

Will washing with only water remove styling product residue from my hair?

A water wash is not enough to remove styling products from your hair. You can use a clarifying shampoo and conditioner to remove them.

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.

Are you curious about washing your hair with only water? Check out this game-changing video to see what happens when you follow this unique hair care routine for a few days!

Personal Experience: Source

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Madison Dufour

Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist

Madison Dufour is a licensed and practicing barber and cosmetologist with 10 years of experience, as well as an entrepreneur running several hair businesses, including MadisonD Barbering and The Exquisite Find Hair Blog. After working behind the chair for several years, she felt the calling to start the non-profit Barber in a Bag that teaches basic hair cutting skills in street and slum communities in South America.

Read full bio of Madison Dufour