Would You Wash Your Hair With Water Only?


Sometimes people say the darnedest things… like when this reader’s hair stylist told her that washing her hair with water alone would cause it to fall out. Lisa turned to the NMDL community for a little help and understanding. Check it out…

“I recently developed an allergy that has my skin and scalp super sensitive to what I eat and use for beauty products. At one point, my scalp became so flaky and itchy, I was at a loss for what to do. In desperation, I tried water only hair washing for a month to give my scalp a rest. Each morning I would vigorously massage my scalp and rinse my hair with water. My scalp and big curly afro was the healthiest (and cleanest) it’s ever looked.

At the end of the month, I went for a haircut to a stylist I’ve never been to and when I explained what I had been doing as a trial to calm my scalp, he was so annoyed and warned me that my hair would fall out. Has anyone else tried water only washing? Did you hair fall out? Now, I use Terressentials Clay Wash and ACV with no reactions but I still don’t know why he was so dramatic about using water.”
Do you wash your hair with water only? Has it worked well for you? Share your experience in the comments!

31 Responses to “Would You Wash Your Hair With Water Only?”
  1. serap says:

    hi, I wash my hair with only water time to time. I have the same problem, itchy and flaky scalp and any beauty product does not do any good, and even I always try to use organic products. plus, I have oily hair, it means that it is a disaster. I have to wash my hair often and that does any good to my scalp. recently I try avoiding any kind of shampoo, I use olive oil soap occasionally, and sometimes I apply baking soda if the weather does not help me keeping my hair from washing. I manage not to wash my hair for 3-4 days so far. It is better in cold weather. and I feel much better, my scalp is calm when I do not wash it with any kind of product. and I try to brush my hair twice a day in between washes. It helps. :)

  2. Lien says:

    The only reason I can imagine a hairstylist would react that way is because they are afraid people are going to stop buying hair products if washing with water-only becomes popular. I still want to try this, but my hair already gets greasy after two days so I never find a good period where I can walk around with hair like that. One thing is for sure: your hair won’t fall out! Water is way better than shampoo chemicals. I have a old book from the fifties, a woman’s encyclopedia, and back then it was normal to wash your hair once in two weeks!

  3. If I could wash my hair with water alone I would in a heartbeat for the rest of my life. I love simplicity, and I think our bodies are fully capable of managing without the help of modern day products. It just so happens that my hair gets greasy FAST, and I’ve not been able to make it through the no-poo cycle long enough to see good results. If water works best for you and you love the results, Lisa, listen to your body and go for it!

  4. Sean says:

    This actually happened to my good friend who has been washing, water only, for 6 months! She just noticed hair loss which is killing her since she has always had a small amount of very fine hair. Did your stylist explain why your hair would fall out? I can’t rationalize it and would love to hear some actual science on the topic, rather than a bunch of anecdotes for one side or the other.

  5. RobinW says:

    I tend to agree with Lien. Years ago I once had a hairstylist get really annoyed when I commented that all of my experimenting in beauty had taught me that you don’t have to use products from the same line all the time. She very huffily informed me that sometimes it WAS better to use the same line for everything, and seemed really defensive. I just let it go, but it was obvious that her m. o. was to hard sell Aveda and she didn’t want anyone saying otherwise in the salon.

  6. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Needs for hair washing are as individual as anything else – and I can’t think of a good reason why using only water would cause hair loss (though there are plenty of reasons for loss). It seems like if your scalp is getting a good scrub with fingers and water that could be enough for some people. And if your hair and scalp seem healthy, that’s the test! I prefer a scrub with a conditioner every day, but I’m also intrigued by clay scalp cleanses and hope to try that at some point. My son and husband, on the other hand, do much better with regular shampooing with very clean products.

  7. Jordan says:

    I’m glad your scalp is a lot better – I’m guessing you were reacting to something in whatever shampoo you were using before. But I don’t think I’d personally just wash with water – definitely wouldn’t work for my head!!

  8. Genya says:

    I would love to wash my hair with water only, but I don’t think it would work for my fine hair…But I agree with the comments above that there is no way that your hair would fall out if you don’t use products, you will probably have much more hair than before! I’ve tried a few times to wash my hair with mud and cowash only, but that also didn’t work out well. It would be interesting to see other alternatives to shampoo that work for fine hair types!

  9. Gloria Viktoria says:

    Hahahaha, hair stylists can be so very nice sometimes. I had one that said to me that organic conditioners are fine and all but not enough for my hair and added that i should buy their products … i never went there again, after i told her, that my hair never looked better before.
    i don#t know why hair should fall out when u r using water only. maybe there are cases in which that happened (hard water anyone?). since one and a half years i’ve been using only water, ghassoul and acv and we have terribly hard water where i live. sometimes i use conditioner, but only in he lenghths of my hair. and nope, my hair did not fall out.
    my scalp is thankful since i have the same problems as you.
    when stylists say such stuff in future one should always ask, what brings them to such conclusions.
    also, where the people a few 100 years ago all bold? nope. and they certainly didn’t use garnier and stuff.
    but maybe there is someone here with different experiences? i’d love to hear!


  10. Brenna says:

    Don’t even worry about it! Washing your hair with water only is great! Especially if you have coarse, curly hair (and/or afro). It can be hard for your hair to retain enough oils if you wash it too much, so this is probably a better option in the long run. I alternate between water only washing and Morrocco Method’s shampoos depending on how much I need to clean it. I don’t love mixing clays or ACV.

    I’m not sure why your stylist was so concerned about washing your hair with water… Possibly because of loss of commission on products? Or possibly because once the scalp is able to regulate itself you may loose some hair initially, but this isn’t actually hair LOSS. It is just fall out as your scalp lets go of damaged hair to replace it with new, healthy hair. It freaked me out a little but since my hair wasn’t breaking, I tried not to worry. Now it is thicker than it ever used to be by just letting my scalp regulate itself.

    You should check out minimalistbeauty.com for more on water only washing! This chic is an EXPERT when it comes to beautiful curls and water only washing. I love reading her thoughts and experience, even though my hair is completely different!

  11. therese says:

    I can’t think of any reason why water would be worse than shampoo but I would definitely get a shower filter to take the impurities out of your water. The natural oils in your hair are there for a reason so let them help condition your hair. I happen to know some very intelligent and informed hair stylist but some are really off the deep end. So definitely trust your instincts on this one.

  12. Renee says:

    I tried it – it was fantastic for a couple weeks, but beyond that point, I couldn’t stand the tangly mess my hair was turning into. I just couldn’t remedy it. However, it was great because my hair sebum changed – it became thin and easily re-absorbed. Now I can go much longer between hair washes (with diluted shampoo). I will still do water only from time to time, when I feel like a rinse but not shampoo. :)

  13. Ruth says:

    Sorry, but I think your stylist’s comment is utter nonsense. What you have been doing is the no poo regime, isn’t it? – Did not Alexandra stick to it for something like a year? – Anyway, I envy you for this regime, because I just could not pull it off. I have very fine hair that gets greasy within a day and therefore I feel that I have to shampoo almost daily. I suppose I belong to the “Generation Shampoo” growing up with peach and apple scented shampoos heavily marketed to us. My mother and grandmother on the other hand went to the salon once a week and that was it. Their hair looked just fine.

  14. Lisa says:

    I have been washing with just baking soda and water solution followed by a diluted vinegar rinse for the last 9 years. My fine, straight hair does beautifully! I experienced some hair thinning due to the use of Prilosec over the last few years – after getting off of that, adding a lovely hair oil recipe from Wellness Mama into my routine, my hair is now the best it’s been in years! The only product I use in my hair is Josh Rosebrook lift spray when I wash my hair once or twice a week. Trust your instincts! Stick with NMDL – this community has a WEALTH of great information!

  15. Jean says:

    I second Breanna’s recommendation for the Minimalist Beauty blog for great information on water washing, and many other topics; check out her DIY bathroom scrub and all purpose spray. Rebecca, she also has some good info on making your own clay wash, which I use every six weeks or so, before I henna my hair. The only two blogs I read consistently are NMDL and Minimalist Beauty.

  16. Sara says:

    @Lisa– I have hair like yours (fine, straight) that gets oily after a DAY. I’d love to do just baking soda and vinegar rinses! I’ve experimented before with baking soda and vinegar but my hair turned into greasy straw. No good. Can you give some info on the specifics of your routine? Thanks!

  17. Jenny H says:

    I read somewhere in the last couple months that shampooing was helpful in dissolving and removing excess oil, dead skin and debris, in turn allowing the hair follicles to breath and remain healthy. The article stated that by forgoing washing too often, the follicles may become compromised, resulting in hair loss. I don’t remember who wrote the article, and if it was based on opinion or observation/experimentation. But I think that the frequency with which you need to wash, and even what products you need to use, vary from person to person so greatly that perhaps for you, water and a good scalp scrub is enough. I wish it would work for me, but I can only go a couple days and really need that shampoo. Also have an oily complexion, so it makes sense. I’ll try to find the article, if I do I’ll post it here.

  18. Water only is just fine! It did not work for me (I tried several times) but if it does for you, ignore those thoughts of falling off hair.

  19. Dee says:

    According to Josh Rosebrook, not washing the hair very often can lead to thinning due to buildup-weakened follicles. No sources are included in his article.

    My hair only starts to look good a few days after washing with natural shampoos and conditioners but I’m trying to massage my scalp daily and wash more frequently these days. Hopefully I’ll eventually find my HG hair products! I have fine/medium textured curly hair that is prone to dryness and frizziness, would love to hear what works for anyones else with my hair type! :)


  20. Peony says:

    I know I’m late to the party but for those interested in trying clay shampoo I really love the Priya Means Love one. Priya herself is lovely to communicate with and has clearly put a lot of thought into the product. It’s the only one I’ve tried so can’t offer any opinions on others. The elegant metal bottles are a plus.

  21. Lisa says:

    Wow! Thanks so much for all the comments and great information. NMDL readers never let me down.

  22. jessie says:

    i don’t wash with shampoo or conditioner, but i don’t wash with water only, either. my routine looks like this:
    wash day: make a mask with rhassoul clay, water and rosemary oil and spread it through damp hair. leave it for about 10 minutes while i putter around. then wash it out and do a rinse with a diluted solution of ACV and water.
    i squeeze it dry with my hands or a t-shirt and rub a few drops of jojoba oil on the ends. i usually twist it up while it’s damp so it gets a little wave. and, due to a crazy cowlick, i blow dry my bangs.

    i usually wait about 4 days between washes, so in between, i’ll use arrowroot powder at the roots, give it a good brushing with my boar bristle brush to move the sebum down to the ends, and do an 50/50 mix of aloe juice and water as a rinse.

    i do this because a) i like knowing EXACTLY what i’m using and b) watching The Human Experiment TERRIFIED me and i basically got rid of 90% of unclean beauty products in a day; i’m a broke teacher so i had to DIY a lot of the replacements. i like them MUCH better!

    in terms of my hair–it just looks like my hair. i have no issues with it, and my rad hairdresser is totally supportive, since she wants to be as chem-free as possible too.

  23. jessie says:

    ps: there’s a great, very very very helpful group on facebook that has been a huge support and a wealth of information.

  24. Su says:

    I have not used shampoo since 2010 after I became sensitive to shampoos and hair dye – my scalp became inflamed, my hair started to fall out in handfuls and my face had red weals where my dyed hair touched. In the end my hairdresser had to shave my head to get rid of my dyed hair. Turns out I had mast cell issues as well as alopecia. Since 2010 I have used water or water and epsom salts to wash my skin and hair. My hair is good again now and I don’t think I will ever go back to using shampoo! :)

  25. My hair gets very oily, so no, I don’t think this is an option for me. I used to wash my hair every other day. Now I’ve cut it back to once every three days. But then I really need to wash it. WITH shampoo! :-)

  26. Hazel says:

    I don’t use shampoo either. I was no poo for a while, but that turned out too harsh for my hair so I only do the baking soda water thing when my hair has too much product build up. I have done water washing from time to time when my scalp needs a break. My hair didn’t fall out any more than normal. I have to add another vote for Minimalist Beauty’s blog. She has some great tips!

    As for my routine, it differs. Sometimes I will use an acv rinse only. But if my hair & scalp are feeling dry I will use the acv rinse then conditioner on top of that. Plus I have DIY leave-in that really helps to nourish my scalp.

  27. Frankie says:

    Hi Lisa, have you seen this video by Naptural85 on her water wash only routine? It’s really good.

    Thanks for investigating this! I was not able to go more than a week without at least cowashing with conditioner, but I never in my life had such thick voluminous hair with the water only method. So I think if you have tight curly hair this is a great method. I like to wash with conditioner, and then the next time I’ll do a water wash only, alternating the two. When I feel my hair needs it. I will shampoo with a mild non-sulfate shampoo followed by conditioner (about every two weeks). Every time I wash, I always apply jojoba oil, then rinse it out, and then apply Lily of the Valley Aloe Vera Gel (the kind that you have to refrigerate and that you can drink!)

  28. Su says:

    Just written a post about my experience of “No Poo” on my blog : http://thereluctantrawfoodist.com/no-poo-no-problem/

  29. Tamara says:

    While at first it seems like a silly thing to say, there is some merit to the statement but it is not as simple as that. What you do with hair between washes matters a huge deal. If you are still using regular styling products water alone will not clean your hair properly, and many stylists go on the basis that people use hair sprays, curling creams etc on the regular basis. Product buildup can be hugely damaging to hair and possibly lead to hair loss. I am assuming that in your case you are not using such products and are just using water, maybe a little oil on the lengths of the hair for conditioning. In that case there is a possibility of sebum buildup, and mineral buildup from water itself. Investing in a shower filter is definitely the way to go, also giving yourself a good head massage and a scrub with fingers while you are washing your hair. Best practice would probably be to have some sort of hair treatments every so often, but these can easily be DIY. If you want to continue with just water minimalist beauty is the blog to check out like a few others suggested. On shampoos at the moment I really like Odylique gentle herb, you massage it onto the scalp and leave it on for 2-3 minutes and wash out, it is absolutely fab. My hair is very long and has a natural loose curl, so I would call it wavy, so not sure if it would work as well for you. However Boucleme range is specifically designed for curly hair, and shampoo is more like a cream and doesn’t foam. Definitely a range to check out if you decide to go the product rout.

  30. kelly says:

    Hi there. I got the same worry of hair fall… i wash my hair with only water for 4 mths d, it was so great and its so much more manageable. Now i can even wash my hair once weekly. However, i started to worry last 2 weeks. My hair started to be so easy to fall…. i was shocked after i washed with just water, the floor had hundreds of hair. I also realized its easy to fall when i tied my hair. I d never have his problem earlier…

  31. Liz says:

    It seems like you’re losing a lot of hair, but you most likely aren’t. When you wash your hair frequently, and comb/brush it frequently, you lose a few hundred hairs a day. When you only wash it every few days or less, and don’t comb/brush it as often, you lose several days’ worth of hair at once, so it seems like a lot in comparison.

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