After my first two “no-poo” (no shampoo) posts went up (here and here), there was so much interest from everyone about learning the different natural ways of washing your hair. I was so excited about that! I will still be writing that post, but it will probably be a few more weeks before I have all of the information ready. I want to make sure I have plenty of personal experience and enough research under my belt before writing this one so I can give y’all the very best information and my educated opinions. 😉 But today I wanted to explain a bit about one thing that has really hindered me in this experience so far because some of you may be dealing with it too and not even know it: Hard water!
In my second post, I explained how your hair and scalp must first go through the grueling “transition phase” if you wish to go the natural route with your hair care. This phase can take awhile, but after a few weeks, your hair usually sheds all the chemical/silicone build up and your scalp starts to get acclimated to the less frequent washing and has started to slow down oil production. After going through this, I experimented with several natural washing methods and found the one I’ve been sticking with. There was just one problem…The day after a wash my hair would look terrible. It would feel cleaner, but it looked awful. My hair didn’t look greasy, but it also didn’t look clean; It would clump together at the roots as if it was greasy but it wasn’t greasy. It was waxy...like the texture of candle wax coating the top half of my hair. I read in a no-poo forum that waxy hair can either be a normal part of the transition phase, or a sign that you have hard water. I knew I had already gone through one transition phase and thought it couldn’t be that, but I still wasn’t too sure. To remedy the waxiness, I would cover my hair with arrowroot powder dry shampoo, which would absorb into the waxy stuff, and then I’d use a fine comb to comb it out of my hair. This took awhile because I would have to clean the waxy build up from between every tooth of my comb after every few minutes of combing. After what seemed like an eternity of frustratingly combing my hair and cleaning my comb, my hair would finally look clean and pretty and free from wax. It would stay looking awesome for about a week before my next wash. Dealing with this issue was really frustrating for me. I felt like I was doing something wrong, or that my scalp still hadn’t adjusted completely, or that my wash method wasn’t working out. I hadn’t considered that my water could really make that much of a difference until we went to soft-watered Florida on a family vacation!
While in an awesome hotel on the shore of sunny Daytona Beach, Florida I realized something that really excited me. Our hotel water was soft! Really soft! Now, I’m not an expert on water hardness, but I knew this water felt different. When I washed my hands, they still felt slippery after the soap was rinsed off which I knew was a sign of soft water. I was so excited to wash my hair and see if it made a difference! I used the same methods that I used back home, and impatiently waited for my hair to dry. You can’t really tell how a wash method worked until your hair is dry. The verdict? My hair was soft, moisturized, and completely wax-free! I couldn’t believe it. It almost seemed TOO moisturized, so its all about finding a balance of what your hair needs. After combing my hair, the comb was still perfectly clean. No build up of any kind. Could water really make that much difference!? It seemed unreal. I was so relieved to learn that it wasn’t me or anything I was doing wrong…it was just our water! The reason hard water makes such a difference with no-poo-ers, is because when you use commercial shampoo, its made with chemicals and detergents formulated to lather through any type of water, leaving your hair stripped and clean. (All while causing lots of damage and exposing you to a lot of really yucky stuff.)
When we got home from vacation, I knew I didn’t want to use our water to wash my hair anymore after seeing the results of the soft water wash, so I’ve been using distilled water in a jug to wash my hair with. Its a pain, but does save me a lot of headaches since I don’t have to clean waxy build up from my hair anymore! To test the hard water theory even further (as if I needed a reason) I did a plain ol’ rinse the other day with our normal water in the shower. No washing with anything; just plain ol water on my clean hair. The next day my hair looked horrible with wax. :/ The downsides of washing your hair with distilled water are its cold, it takes a little longer, and the hassle of buying jug water and taking it into the shower with me. Even with all of those things, I’ve still decided its worth it, for now, to keep using distilled water over our hard water. *Update! After washing with distilled water for awhile, I’m kinda used to it and it doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. I think washing the hair with cold water is actually better for it. I’m still trying to find that perfect balance with my wash and with my water. I think my hair might not like super soft water and might need some middle ground so I’m still conducting experiments and getting to know my hair needs!
If you’ve recently started no-poo, tried it unsuccessfully in the past, or have started having issues that aren’t going away with time, you just might have hard water! Try washing with only distilled water and see if it helps you!