My no-shampoo journey: weeks 3-8 + the return to the hairdresser

Over two months of no-shampoo and still being seen in public. Source: T Kendal

Fear not, this is not turning into a hair-obsessed blog. This will be the last hair-related post for a while, but before moving topics, I want to take you full circle, with a return return to the hairdressers after eight weeks of no-shampoo.

I have now settled into a rhythm; a daily habit of hair-brushing and a weekly habit of washing. The jars of alternative shampoos and conditioners have been found permanent homes in the bathroom, no longer loitering like interlopers on the windowsill. I have almost forgotten what showering feels like (that is a joke; I still wash).

A few highlights from the first two months:

  • At around week 6, it felt like my hair went through a transition. It was the second time I’d gone a week between washes. The first was a struggle, but then my hair changed, adapted. Going seven days felt comparatively easy. I suspect this process is not really ‘the transition’ but a series of transitions over the months as your hair adjusts.
  • I’ve had one mishap, but it was minor. Maybe more of a mixup than a mishap. It turns out putting bicarb (a shampoo alternative) and vinegar (a conditioner) in identical (washed out) peanut butter jars is not a good idea. Especially when you’ve got your eyes shut as you hastily pour the first of these cold water solutions over your head because the UK is submerged in -4ºC weather (thanks, Beast from the East). At some point, the inevitable happen: I used the wrong jar. All of it. After an initial wide-eyed wonder at what this would mean, I just cracked on with the second solution. And my hair didn’t feel any the worse for it. I have, however, started to put a lid on the jar not in use though, just in case.
  • I made my own apple cider vinegar. Who have I become?!
  • The headscarf has made far fewer appearances than expected. I have never felt reluctant to leave the house because of my hair; something I did worry about before starting.
  • I thought camping would be the moment when I would relish my infrequent hairwashing. Turns out it was when I was struck down by the flu. Take home message: if you go no-shampoo, it doesn’t stop you from feeling wretched with the flu, but it does mean your hair still looks great even when you’ve been bedridden for four days. Perks.
  • I’ve started fairly regularly running some coconut or argan oil through the ends of my hair to help keep them moisturised.
  • I returned to the hairdressers, nervously ringing up the day before to say I just wanted a haircut. No, no dye. He made fun of my ‘new age habits’ (which I didn’t mind) and asked me to pop in once I’d dyed my hair at home with henna. I was trying to explain that I didn’t mind experimenting with my hair, because it could grow back. Unfortunately it came out a bit wrong:  “It’s just hair” was probably not the most sensitive thing to say to someone who has built a profession around… oops.
  • My hair feels healthy and is curlier than before I started this journey, which I love.

So I’m now washing it at most once a week. I’d like to keep extending that, but am not going to be too strict with myself, especially as the warmer weather has descended onto the UK. This whole journey has been much less eventful than I’d expected. I see no reason to go back.

And for those who are interested….Weeks 3-8 (and a bit):

15: Brush

16: Brush

17: Brush: hair looking better than it used to by this point.

18: Brush & head-scarf day: The in-laws were visiting; they were pleasantly unfazed by my no-shampoo news. Perhaps ditching shampoo wasn’t as bold as I’d thought. Or maybe they just know me well.

19: Egg wash: still paranoid about using too warm water (which leads to egg scrambling), this still involves sitting bent over the bath tub, hosing my head with freezing cold water.

20: Brush

21: Brush

22: Brush

23: Brush: Normally a head scarf day but didn’t feel I needed it. And the irritation I used to have at my scalp was also greatly diminished. Progress.

24: Bicarb and vinegar wash: and the mishap described above.

25: Brush

26: Brush

27: Brush: important work meeting. Felt fine, almost proud to go in no-shampoo. Little did they know…

28: Brush

29: Brush

30: Bicarb & vinegar wash. First time using coconut oil for the ends because they were feeling a bit dry.

31: Brush: Yesterday’s wash didn’t feel as good as the previous one. A bit nervous of going a full week.

32: Brush

33: Brush

34: Brush: a bit grim, but think I’ll make it to my target. Wore a headband I made out of scrap fabric.

35: Brush

36: Brush: didn’t need a headscarf in the end; just tying up. Was a little hesitant to appear in a work photo but colleagues assured me it looks fine.

37: Egg wash

38: Brush: wore down; it felt really good. Bit dry at ends so some coconut oil. 

39: Brush and coconut oil: wore down again including the fringe.

40: Brush: and again including fringe – the longest yet

41: Flu. Awful sleep-sixteen-hours-a-day flu. Brushed for about 10 seconds. Then needed a nap.

42: Managed 3 minutes of brushing = the day’s achievement.

43: Brush and argan oil thru ends. Felt a bit itchy at my scalp but looked fine tied up

44: Brush: on my plan, I was due a wash but it looked ok (a transition?) so went another day.

45: Bicarb & vinegar wash. Curls, messy and glorious.

46: Brush and coconut oil thru ends, which also helped to revitalised the curls.

47: Brush

48: Brush

49: Brush

50: Brush

51: Brush

52: Bicarb and vinegar wash

53: Brush

54: Brush

55: Brush

56: Brush and coconut oil

57: Brush

58: Brush

59: Brush and argan oil

60: Egg wash for the return to hair dresser


Today’s soundtrack: Sofia Talvik // Big Sky Country

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