Is Ditching Shampoo The Key To Good Hair Days Every Day?
We may be able to ditch the foundation, or go fake-tan free, but shampoo is a beauty vice few of us can’t do without. Anyone who has ever tried going cold turkey knows only too well the lank, greasy, uncontrollable and far-from-glorious locks they’re faced with when they try to break the habit.
Which is why WAA Founder Rebecca and I were super intrigued to try out a new product with some very bold claims. Created by Eli Halliwell (of Bumble & bumble fame) Hairstory has a totally unique philosophy when it comes to haircare – they say that using shampoo is the worst thing we can do! Their solution? ‘New Wash’ – their specially developed hero product – a shampoo-free cleanser that replaces shampoo and conditioner, cleansing the hair of impurities but retaining its natural oils. They’re calling it the ‘No Poo’ movement. Sexy, huh? Undeterred, we decided to give it a go, and see if we, too, could go ‘poo free’.
Before you try a Hairstory product (available online or in certain salons), it’s good to do their survey. It asks you things like how often you wash your hair and what a ‘bad hair day’ looks like for you, to give you a bespoke package to best suit your individual concerns. I ended up with New Wash (Deep) as my hair errs on the oilier side, while Rebecca’s results indicated that the standard New Wash package would work best for her.
We agreed to start using the shampoo at the beginning of April, giving us two weeks to try it out and evaluate it, keeping diaries of the experience. So, armed with a starter pack, including New Wash, an in-shower brush to use while cleansing the hair, and a hair powder to soak up oil in-between washes, we embarked on our shampoo-free quest.
The first thing to note about New Wash is that it doesn’t foam. At all. Which is weirdly discombobulating after years of working up a fluffy lather in the shower. That’s why they give you the plastic brush – you are meant to put New Wash all through your hair, from root to tip, and then massage it into your scalp, before leaving it while you do the rest of your shower routine.
The first couple of times I washed my hair (leaving my usual one-day break in between) I struggled to get the amount of product right, and often felt I hadn’t fully washed out all the product. Plus, I have to say, one of the things I missed straight away was the scent of my usual shampoo (I’m so wedded to one particular scent, I bulk-buy Aussie Winter Miracle during winter, just so I don’t have to stop using it in Summer!). With that level of commitment to scent, the faintly peppermint-y appeal of New Wash was frankly lacking something.
Hairstory say: “The shampoo-free lifestyle comes with many rewards; some are instant and others you’ll discover over time as the scalp finds a new balance and hair rebounds. For most people the transition to New Wash from shampoo is effortless. But for some new converts, extra time and patience are called for while the scalp gets the message that the constant battle with shampoo is over and less oil is needed. Let’s just say, Rebecca and I definitely fell into the latter category.
The first week was tough. In between our email exchanges about future articles and weekend plans, we couldn’t help but offload about our hair – and it’s current less-than-desirable state.
RM: “How is your hair? Mine is dead greasy/stiff and I only washed it yesterday... help!”
EG: “OH MY GOD I meant to say this to you! Used the dry shampoo on Wednesday and had to wear it tied up ALL DAY as it was literally stuck in one shape like Lego hair?! And today I washed it again, and it's absolutely vile. So glad I haven't had any meetings as it looks like I'm a 14 year old with rampant oil production who doesn't wash!!!”
RM “I am going out tomorrow night so I am really trying not to crack but I don't want anyone judging me!”
EG “You’re brave. Maybe say you’re trying to bring the ‘wetlook hair’ thing back?? My hair is not really exhibiting any major changes if I’m being totally honest. It’s still greasy AF on second day (way more than it used to be) and I haven’t really noticed any benefits. I mean, I can cope with it but it’s not really making me want to change from standard shampoo.”
RM “TBH I feel that it looks about 2 days old straight after you have washed it and then it doesn't really change, like get worse or better. So strange. I’m yet to be convinced and I actually cannot WAIT to wash it - definitely not a convert. I really do think there is joy in your shampoo foaming up and my showers just don't feel the same without that!”
So far… not so good. We were both into our second week and still far from convinced that ditching our regular shampoo (with its joyful foaming up and floral scent) was ever going to be an option. However, in the name of ground-breaking journalism, we soldiered on.
To my surprise, throughout the second shampoo-free week, my hair began faring better between washes – which was handy, given that one use of the dry-shampoo ‘POWDER’ Hairstory provided left me vowing never to use that particular product again. After sleeping with it in my hair, I genuinely woke up one morning and started singing 80s power ballads at my boyfriend because my hair was standing up so rigidly I looked like a Bonnie Tyler tribute act. But, over time, the second-day dread started to dissolve, and I managed to make it to hairwash day without turning to other products in the meantime.
I’m happy to say that my hair turned a corner around Day 10. Up until this point, I really was thinking I’d never be converted. My hair was definitely no better than it was before, if anything it was more flyaway and looked more lacklustre – even hours after being washed. However, I made it through a three-day period with NO HAIRWASH at Day 12, and something seemed to switch.
RM: “I do have to admit that as soon as our quest for ground-breaking journalism and our time in the ‘No Poo’ movement came to an end I could not wait to jump in the shower and lather on the shampoo, not once, not twice but three times. No longer will I take that luxurious white foam hair style for granted and I did not realise how important it was to my overall shower experience. I can see how, that for people with similar hair to Emma, a serial washer, would benefit from a detox of shampoo/conditioner to almost retrain the hair to clean itself but over the years, I have actually managed to reduce my hair washes from every other night to only twice a week so my ‘oiliness’ is quite under control, something I could’t say a few years ago. Therefore, I personally felt that I did not benefit from going ‘Poo Free’ and missed the amazing 'fresh clean hair’ feel you get after washing. The experience definitely got better in week two but it wasn’t enough to convince me.”
I’m going to carry on using New Wash for another week or two, to see if the progress continues. However, I’m really starting to pine for my regular scented shampoo, so I can’t hand-on-heart vow I’ll never go back. For me, New Wash will work as a great detox product to use once in a while when I feel like my hair needs a bit of love.