by Barbara of Frotastic


Since going natural 3 years ago, I became sort of a mad hair scientist; mixing food items including peanut butter into my concoctions without a problem. Then out of the blue, my scalp decided enough was enough.

What happened you ask? A teensy bit of my sealing oil, rice bran, touched my scalp and it burned to pieces! The same thing happened with avocado, olive oil and hemp. So for the 4th time over the past year, I once again found myself racing towards the kitchen in a panic with shampoo and conditioner in hand.

Instead of simply giving up on experimenting with new products, concoctions and oils, I decided to take it a step further and eliminate all products. Yes, you did in fact read that last sentence correctly. All is in a-l-l. All as in no oils, no conditioner, no moisturizers, no leave ins…well, you get the point.

I’d love to say that I came to this water-only epiphany on my own, but the truth is it’s been all the rage on white hair boards. I’d routinely skim through threads of adulation then remind myself that these kinks need the whole nine yards plus another inch, that is, until the aforementioned incident.

Water-only does not equal “wet it and forget it.” In fact I had to devise a special regimen before embarking on this experiment. I committed to massaging my scalp everyday for at least 5 minutes in order to move sebum from my scalp to the length of my hair. Also, once a week, I rinsed with water and “scritched”– which is very, very lightly scratching the scalp to further loosen and distribute sebum.

Did my 4b/c hair survive on a water only regimen? There are 2 answers but first, a preface; As a long-term protective style wearer (braids or twists) I like to leave a small section in the front loose so I can “refresh” it while hiding the new growth in the back sections. This practice allowed me to compare loose 4b/c hair on a water only regimen versus twisted/braided hair.

Link to water only VIDEO:

The twisted/braided sections were amazingly soft as well as shiny and very easy to take down. My hair felt as if I’d sufficiently moisturized and sealed the day before.

The loose section held up fine but was not nearly as moisturized as the twisted sections. My theory is intertwined strands can better retain moisture from water rinsing sessions and sebum massages.

I was so beyond thrilled with my results that I now practice the “water-only” regime every other month.

This is what my hair looks like after 4 months of practicing the “water-only” regime every other month.


If you’re protective styling your own hair and can commit to sebum washing and massaging then perhaps water- only may be worth a try.

Ladies, would you try this?! And if you already have, please share your experience!!

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120 Comments on "True Life: I Tried a Water-Only, Zero-Product Regimen On My 4B/C Hair"

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Elizabeth Venable

I always wondered what black hair looked like in its truly natural state…no product, braids, anything. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.


[…] Frotastic & her Water Washed hair Source […]


Water only on 4c hair and no oil? Simple chemistry water evaporates and shrinks and breaks your hair oil does not. Water and oil do not mix, do the experiment lol.


Hi there pretty sure you’ll be just fine using a light leave in or a light oil like jojoba or avacado. But remember to wash the next day and you can clarify you want just not to often as you don’t want to dry out your hair. Hoped I helped?


Hi ladies!! Does anyone know if it is okay to use a leave in after water washing? I wanted to wear a braid out and added a leave in. Do I have to clarify and start over or is that okay to do? Thank you!!

LiGlisa Chae

When I first heard about this, I thought what many probably did. Is it possible to wash without product with a good result, w/o drying and breakage? Then, I thought, when God created us, products weren’t created with us. Just us and all God’s earth. What did they do then? Then, I thought it was possible. Now I’m living possible since I am now on this method.


exactly what i said haha


Amen to that! I grew up reading National Geographic & I saw those matted unkempt heads!


Lol we had the products of the earth, juices and berries. &Our hair didnt get dry bcuz everything was perfect haha


have you seen what aboriginal people look like or street people in Africa? there’s a reason that many tribal people wear their hair short. unkempt hair looks matted and tangled. no thank you.


It’s funny how I came across this article. I (a guy) have been trying to grow my hair but using products like shea, tea tree, etc make my hair feel soft for a period then eventually dry out. My hair is always in the best condition after I wash it and use a comb to scratch it gently. While I don’t have the curl pattern I like, my hair feels great and I usually catch myself playing and twisting it. I randomly thought to Google “natural hair just water” and this comes up. Talk about confirmation! Nice post!


Amazing, I have fought my natural for the last 15 years and maybe about 5 or 6 before then. This morning washed with water only. A little honey. Hair and scalp both feel great. My hair is 4c and breaks constantly. After using this method the hair was calm, stayed loose and the ends neither my scalp felt inflamed. I hope this method continues to work. Thank your for an excellent article and your beautiful hair.

Simple Natural
I will definitely give it a try, as to be quite honest, I love my hair (my big ass afro, like my partner always refer to it) but the only thing I dread once a week is washing it. From making my own natural hair treatment from the kitchen, detangling my hair, sectioning it, washing it, applying hair treatment, the waiting game, rinsing it out, detangling again then lastly moisturising and sectioning in twist, this could take about 2-3hours. If I can minimise this with only water, massage,detangle & twist, I wouldn’t mind trying it every other day or twice… Read more »

I think I would get too much of a build-up of sebum and oil. I know man came before shampoo, so water is a call back to nature but I don’t trust myself to get rid of all of the scalp gunk. However, the simplicity of this regimen is what appeals to me. There is a YouTube vlogger named 22nd Century Woman who only uses vinegar as conditioner. Sometimes she only uses cornstarch or vinegar to clean her hair. Other than that, she uses homemade shampoo bars. She has waist length hair. So less is more.


I just moved and tossed all my products but coconut oil so I’m going to give this a try.


I do want to try this especially as i already only ever wash my hair once a month. Its the massaging bit is what i may just be lazy about tho. But its def something i would try once im done with my current products


Typical responses from people in denial of their product addiction and unrealistic hair expectations. Someone tried something with the evidence that it works and enough naysayers have reasons for why it won’t work for them without even trying… Smh

I would think that this would only work for people that have soft water, a water softening system or is prepared to buy distilled water? I was checking naturals doing the hard water test and can’t really tell without the ph strips. It’s an interesting concept though, and I recently saw a natural hair youtuber that went to beauty school that was more diverse because she didn’t think the majority of black beauty schools taught about the overall health of hair over styling. She also endorsed water only except for the last few inches to be sealed in a moisturizing… Read more »

Good point. I have hard water and it tears my hair apart. 🙁

You have beautiful eyebrows! Furthermore you are not just merely pretty, you are a handsome woman with an elegant, aristocratic face. You look like an actress who can play a Queen. You just have that royal face. But anyway, I’ve tried this no-product thing when I started as a natural about 10 years ago. I have 3c/4a hair that doesn’t grow very long at all. I think t he water and steaming effect works just as good as the products. Some people can’t believe that hair can grow without using product, but really, what is better and more natural than… Read more »

Good that this works for you. I think it is time for a chemist to get to work and find a way to manufacture sebum in the lab, I might buy that ish or If anyone produces excess sebum and doesnt mind selling….and no jojoba oil is not the same thing. For now though, if it (my haircare regimen) aint broke, I am not fixing it.


Water-only is the future! I love this method. I encourage you all to at least give it a shot – it’s totally worth it.


Can i try this on a 5month transitioned hair?


Can this be done when your hair is twisted with extensions?


Questions answered here (I think)

However, its possible to wash hair with twists (can’t remember which vid she explained how).


Hot or cold water?


Hot water allows the sebum to more effectively move down the hair strands

Ive done this and girls it WORKS!!! I LOVE the water only method, it leaves my hair very soft and shiny!! I had the AWFUL idea to use products like 2 weeks ago after months of only doing the water only and I regretted it right away, products give me soft hair and shine for a few days but after that hair begins to become dry. not so with the water only method(at least for me) my hair was always so soft! Sebum and water are the best moisturizing for my hair and Im pretty sure if others tried it… Read more »

I am thinking about trying it, in my opinion my hair is so easy to detangle when wet with comb but with my fingers I feel like I could be breaking it when combing through it and running into knots… Also my Mother saying the water only method is nasty and how my hair would smell, I need to definitely do research


What type of water are we using? Water from the faucet or filtered water


Water from the faucet should be fine, but if your place has hard water it would be advisable to have a filter.

I’m trying this, starting today! I’ve been intrigued by this topic all week and I’m so excited about it! I’m a minimalist at heart and the less I need to do, the better, in my opinion. I’ve watched some other YouTubers (Wateronlywashing among others) and they’ve also seemed to get very good results from this method. I’ve stopped using products on my face and I’ve only gotten good results from doing so, so I don’t expect doing the same with my hair to be any different. Thank you so much for sharing! I would not have thought it was possible,… Read more »

Hi , i like to know when you water only washed your hair did you use styling products after ? ( sorry for my English i’m french girl )


Nah..too much work. And if you already have a simple regime that works why change it?
But good luck to those attempting this

I don’t know why the words “sebum massage” sounded weird to me :/


I’m seriously considering trying this. From what I understand, this helps with moisture retention and hair softness because as you work the sebum down the hair shaft (and it takes time to achieve full coverage–like weeks), the hair retains moisture very well. I also heard that it keeps the hair very soft, and it no longer feels dry and hard once full coverage has been achieved. The youtuber I have watched who does it has quite long type 4 (b or c?) hair.

Just like with changing a diet, I’d have to take baby steps. I don’t dispute the theory at all as it aligns with my interest that the body is smarter than we think it is so just let it be. With that mindset I’ve started cutting out a lot of extra crap that growing up I thought we had to have. Due to financial reasons, I did at one point only have coconut oil, castor oil, and water to put on my head and it was soft. It didn’t last long though so I’d be worried about the next six… Read more »

I did the water-only regime, too. Not by choice. I had surgery and couldn’t put anything on my scalp or hair FOR TWO MONTHS. My routine was using water only DAILY and two-strand twisting my hair at night. When I could finally shampoo, they advised me to use baby shampoo. I used unscented liquid black soap instead. My hair grew like crazy-from collarbone length to armpit length.

Charise Wynter

I’ve been at it for a few weeks. I’m confident that this may be a superior way to moisturize, though it can be time consuming at first.


Seems interesting but I would not try it, cause my 4C hair is dry.

Im 4c, and I have been doing this for 2 months. It works, and ti works well. The only thing, I have added was a mix of castor and argon oil to the last 2-3 inches of my hair, since it is winter, and in Canada that actually means something. Similar to the heat in the summer in the southern states. I have also added in ACV rinses every other week, and my scalp is just fine, my hair is moisturized, and I rarely have dry hair feeling. The main thing to do, is drink lots of water, that’s the… Read more »

I agree with Vee – it definitely works! I tried it for a few weeks and got lazy, but in that short time my fine strands became so much thicker, and it was amazing to be able to rely on my own sebum 🙂 I’m returning to this method now. Take a leap, try it out for a month. You don’t have to get married to the technique, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

LiGlisa Chae

I just started and it’s working working for me. I actually am surprised how much it’s working. How soft not kinky and hard my hair is. I will continue through the end of the year with this. If the improvement continues, I will keep doing it.

Cassie Cooper

I have 4c hair as well. I am currently using this method. mind you I am early in but it is working thus far. i had the same reservation but glad i took the plunge.

TMC toronto meetup march 29th

there’s a reason why this works on straight white hair. though i don’t see how water can wash out the dirt and grease on one’s scalp. I wonder what Jc of Natural Haven has to say about this. 🙂


If you aren’t adding grease to your hair, then there is no grease to remove. Besides, unless someone is throwing dirt in the air and it lands on my head, I’ve never actually seen dirt on my scalp.

Ugonna Wosu

you gave the answer I would have with far fewer words, lol.


But the sebum is grease produced by our scalp, as far as I understand…


…you do realize that the reason curly hair is dry is because the sebum has trouble traveling down the hair shaft. Why would you be concerned with trying to seriously get rid of it?


it is, but i don’t think sebum production for most of us is so much that it would necessarily require shampoo to remove it. i know i went a week without washing once, and my scalp was no more noticeably greasy. if anything, it was just as dry as it always was.


Have you ever worked in a store and have to clean the bathroom? I don’t ever see dirt on my hands, or other women’s hands either. But I have to scrub it off the sink every night and I see it in in my washing machine water. Dirt gets around hun.




It’s an interesting concept, although I’m not sure it would work for me, but I’m game to give it a go.


The link doesn’t take me to a site. But I found a great vlogger on youtube by the same name. Thanks for the tip.

And thanks for this article Barbara!
There is not much info online about this method for kinky-curly afro hair, that is easily accessible. So I greatly appreciate your doing this video!