By Chin­we of Hair and Health

Since we last dis­cussed Whit­ney (Nap­tural85), her the­o­ry has evolved from incor­po­rat­ing co-wash­ing to alter­nat­ing between co-wash­ing and water-only wash­ing.  (In case you missed the pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sion, here it is: Does Con­stant Wash­ing Make Nat­u­ral Hair Grow Faster?.)

What is water-only wash­ing?

Water-only wash­ing is not a new con­cept, but it has become increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar in the nat­u­ral hair com­mu­ni­ty over the past few years. What is it? It is the wash­ing of hair sole­ly using water with the focus on dis­trib­ut­ing sebum from the scalp onto the strands. Why is this impor­tant? Well, …

… Let’s talk more about sebum

Sebum is a nat­u­ral sub­stance that lubri­cates the scalp and con­di­tions the hair. In straight hair, this oily sub­stance can trav­el down the shaft to the ends fair­ly eas­i­ly because of the direct path. The hair’s close prox­im­i­ty to the scalp as well as con­tin­u­al brush­ing and comb­ing also aid in the trans­port process. As for tex­tured hair? That is anoth­er sto­ry.

The coilier the hair, the hard­er it is for sebum to trav­el down to the ends because of physics. Imag­ine oil run­ning down a straight road ver­sus a path full of turns and twists. In the lat­ter case, the oil may take longer to reach the end of the road, get­ting caught at each curve. This process is basi­cal­ly what coilier/kinkier strands expe­ri­ence. Also, fac­tor in a min­i­mal brushing/combing rou­tine as well as the real­i­ty that some nat­u­ral hair works again­st grav­i­ty (i.e., stands up and out away from the scalp). We then ulti­mate­ly have a case in which sebum just bare­ly reach­es the ends of our hair, if at all, hence, a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to dry­ness.

Now back to Nap­tural85 …

Why did Whit­ney make the switch to water-only wash­ing?

Believe it or not, cer­tain con­di­tion­ers do have the capa­bil­i­ty to remove a lev­el of oil from the scalp and hair. (Check out Jc’s micro­scope exper­i­ment involv­ing co-washed strands: Does Co-wash­ing Real­ly Clean Your Hair.) If co-wash­ing is done in excess, it may lead to an itchy, dry scalp, which was the case for Whit­ney; her increased co-wash­ing was remov­ing too much sebum. Thus, she switched to a rou­tine of water-only wash­ing alter­nat­ed with co-wash­ing as she dis­cuss­es in the fol­low­ing video. Her scalp has ben­e­fit­ed immense­ly since the switch.  Addi­tion­al­ly, her hair is lov­ing the rou­tine because of the sebum dis­tri­b­u­tion.

How to start your water-only wash rou­tine

If you are inter­est­ed in try­ing a water-only wash rou­tine, def­i­nite­ly start by watch­ing the fol­low­ing Q&A video by Wateron­ly­hair­wash. (How appro­pri­ate.) She’s been doing the water-only wash rou­tine for over a year and shares some answers to impor­tant ques­tions you may have.  You may want to grab a pen and notepad while you watch:

In the mean time, here are some steps to keep in mind:

1. Start by remov­ing pre­vi­ous pro­duct buildup with a sham­poo, espe­cial­ly a clar­i­fy­ing one if you have seri­ous buildup.

2. Mas­sage your scalp and dis­trib­ute the sebum through­out your strands with each water-only wash.  Do this sec­tion by sec­tion (see how Whitney’s video).

3. Apply light oils and/or but­ters for extra seal­ing, if nec­es­sary.

4. Avoid heavy prod­ucts.

5. Try to stick with main­ly nat­u­ral prod­ucts. Use speci­fic nat­u­ral prod­ucts to remove excess sebum and dirt accu­mu­la­tion (see Wateronlywash’s video).

Have you tried water-only wash­ing? Share your rou­tine and expe­ri­ence below!


Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

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35 Comments on "Can Water-Only Washing Maximize Natural Hair Growth?"

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A cold is caused by a virus!

[…] I stum­bled across this video on YouTube about wash­ing with water only. With me hav­ing real­ly short hair I wash with only water all of the time. How­ev­er, I had nev­er thought about it in regards to longer hair. I was think­ing: “How does that work out?” I mean, there is pro­duct build up hap­pen­ing. After watch­ing the video I read a blog post that also talked about wash­ing with water only. Obvi­ous­ly this is a thing and may­be I should par­take in this “thing” as my hair grows out because wash­ing my hair is seri­ous busi­ness. So I… Read more »

Peo­ple in the Caribbean have been doing this for many years. It’s very ben­e­fi­cial of you sweat a lot in heat. I don’t think I need to say any­thing else, since Leahy went in.

Natural Oils for Hair & Health

Research­ing this cur­rent­ly and plan to try it out for a mon­th start­ing from next week…


How do you like it?

Natural Oils for Hair & Health

I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Still in a pro­tec­tive style. Will update once I’m able to try it..:)

Hair Design

Being an hair styl­ist, dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent hair. This con­tent has few good points & for this I real­ly appre­ci­ate.