How many times have you heard someone preach the supposed benefits of a shampoo fast? No ‘poo has for a while been praised for making hair healthier, shinier and stronger. But, when we started asking around, it all seemed the information was in theory – no one had actually been game to actually go sans the suds. So, we did. But before you scoff and head to the shower to lather up in sympathy, there’s some evidence to suggest that our natural oils, when not interrupted by a sudsy lather, rinse, repeat, will leave us with healthy, balanced locks. Skeptical? You’re not alone. To investigate, our beauty writer Emily did the hard (and greasy) yards, going 13 days shampoo-free. Here’s what happened…
To add context, my hair is fine, I just have quite a lot of it, and it’s long - sitting just under my boobs. I’d say I have normal/flat roots with dry ends. My friends will tell you it’s naturally curly (I think of it more as ‘messy’, and am in a long-term relationship with my GHD). I shampoo every second night, or every third if I’m busy or feeling particularly lazy.
I wash whole-heartedly with O&M Original Detox shampoo and use Fudge Toning shampoo for good measure (I find it drying and hope it combats the impending oil slick). I add a skint amount of conditioner, and don’t skip my roots. Now, the crucial moment: I go product free. OkOkOk, I lie… I add a tiny bit of Oribe Ends Sealer to the very tips, but that’s all. I let it dry naturally and mentally prepare for the week ahead. All I can think about is this time when I was 11 and a friend didn’t wash her hair for the entire school holidays. It resulted in her mum having to cut it off due to extensive tangling and I’m scared.
In all its grease-free glory, I wear my hair out today, as I believe this will be my only chance. A few people say it looks better natural. I make a mental note to maybe do this more often. Maybe. I take excruciatingly precise care when using cleansing oil (Cosmedix, if you’re curious) that night to remove makeup so that no product makes its way to my hairline.
Everything is still okay. Although I have a work meeting and feel I should wear it back. I run my GHD through it so that it makes for a more polished low bun. Wearing it back is a strategic move as I am less inclined to touch and transfer any oil from my hands onto my hair – as an avid fan of the casual and constant hair flick, this is important to remember.
I go to the gym today and decide an ab circuit is most appropriate to minimise sweat. I also forego burpees (all in the pursuit of a good story, of course). Things are a little slicker, however it makes for a fabulously sleek ponytail with a lovely deep side part. I now understand how Kim K does it.
I’m not going to lie to you – my roots are oily. Today is the day I break out my dry shampoo. I spray Evo Water Killer in the roots and leave it to marinate for about 15 minutes while I apply makeup. My boyfriend asks why there’s flour in my hair. I am then able to craftily put together one of those cool half-up top-knots the bloggers wear. The grit and texture really help, interesting.
The remnants of dry shampoo have helped, but things could be better. I may have ‘accidentally’ splashed a small amount of water onto my roots when washing my face in the AM. I hit it with the blow dryer upside down and tie into a super high top-knot which I often do as it looks fresh. My long hair coils up into a nice tight bun easily, and I revel in the fact it took me six minutes to do my hair.
Today is Saturday, which means no work obligations. It also means hot yoga. For those who don’t know, it’s in a 44 degree room, which means I’ll be sweating. By the end of it, my hair is entirely wet. The rest of the day is errand running. I actually wore a hat for this. I have dinner with some girlfriends tonight and wore a super slick bun with huge earrings because huge earring fix almost anything.
I gave it a really good brush this morning to try and get the oils moving away from the scalp and towards the ends. While the roots are still super greasy and piecy, the ends are feeling quite strong and healthy, which is a plus. It’s Sunday and quite warm, I’m lunching with fam. I tie a cool printed Zara headscarf around and feel like a rich woman on a luxe beach-side vacation.
Monday means work, and some would argue this also mean looking semi put-together. I head to the bathroom fearfully, only to notice that my hair isn’t any worse. It seems I have reached peak oil levels, in a good way - my hair feels noticeably softer and although my roots have a slight 'shine' to them, it doesn't look dirty. I again brush through and tie into a low bun. I have so much time for other things like the news and perfectly poached eggs.
I think to myself I am saving so much time and money with this experiment. Probably electricity too as I barely touch hot tools! Today I sprinkle a bit of talc and blow dry upside down for 10 minutes to get a little volume. I tong through the ends and am able to pull off a textured pony. My roots are still definitely oily, but they look more third day hair than tenth day hair - interesting.
What I notice this morning is that when I brush my hair, the ends don’t snap off and fall into the bathroom sink. In fact, I can actually count only 4 - normally I would have at least 20. The oils must have worked their magic right down to the ends and they aren’t as dry. As someone with six plus years of bleached ends, I am seriously impressed.
I’m trying to push to two weeks, but today is a real test. I have drinks with some girlfriends for a birthday tonight and it’s a hot day - I really want to go for a swim. I’m at the beach for a large portion of the day and at 4pm I finally succumb and go for a dip. I then head to dinner with salty locks - my hair goes super curly when it’s salty, so I’m out of trouble for one more day.
I’m so close to the finish line, but I wake up with an actual birds nest from sleeping with salty hair. I feel victorious in making it this far, so head to the shower and grab my shampoo with vigour. Upon blow drying, I feel like I’ve stepped out of a Pantene commercial.
I’ll admit I probably don’t have the best hair type to carry this out, although there were definitely perks. Firstly, it forced creativity. It was also a massive time saver. Having my hair recently coloured, I liked the fact that less washing meant less colour down the drain – hair colour is expensive and time consuming. My ends felt good too. I probably won’t do this all the time (or ever again), but stretching to three or four days is definitely doable (the half-up top-knot really sold me).
Story by Emily Algar.