Are harmful chemicals in your shampoo leaving your hair dull and dry? Wash your hair with plain water and nature-derived herbs to maintain your tresses' natural beauty.
Ancient Ayurvedic texts mention 'keshya' herbs that strengthen hair roots, keep scalp infections away and prevent hair fall when used with water as part of your daily hair cleansing routine.
Avoiding chemical laden shampoos can holistically improve your hair health and prevent various hair issues such as moisture loss, split ends, frizz, breakage and dull hair. Scroll down to know the best natural ways to wash your hair without shampoo.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
"Dry powders like amla, and triphala when mixed with clay can be used to apply on the scalp and hair strands and then washed off to remove the oil."
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
Can You Wash Your Hair With Just Water?
According to the vedic scriptures, ‘snanam’ or bathing in water is a ritual that purifies the body and mind. In snanam, one begins from the head by pouring water through the length of their hair and gradually goes down to their feet. Water is a powerful element that purifies the body and refreshes one’s spirit. Pouring water on the scalp cools your body and prevents pitta dosha vitiations.
Amongst the three doshas that govern our body functions, excess pitta on the scalp can lead to drying up of hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Using fresh water to clean your scalp and hair reduces scalp heat, cleanses dust, sweat and dirt that clog up your pores and weigh down your hair. Unlike shampoos which are often not recommended for daily use, washing your hair with water every day is safe.
Use lukewarm water for the initial rinse and then follow it up with a cold wash. The lukewarm water helps loosen dirt, grime and sebum and ensures good cleaning. The cold rinse helps seal essential moisture within the hair shaft and lays your cuticle layer flat giving your hair an after wash shine.
According to hair specialists, only water wash is recommended for Type 3 (curly) and Type 4 (kinky/ coily) hair as they are often highly porous, dry and fragile in nature. This is followed by a conditioner that further helps to keep the hair soft and moisturised.
What Happens If You Don't Shampoo Your Hair?
Omitting shampoo from your hair care routine can actually be beneficial for your hair. The main reason you shampoo your hair is to achieve a thorough cleaning. But what you don’t realize is that in the process you might be stripping your hair of natural oils that protect it from environmental damages. This leaves your hair feeling dry, lack-lustrous and more susceptible to breakage.
Traditional shampoos are packed with harmful surfactants such as sulphates (also used in house cleansing products), parabens (chemical preservatives), artificial colours and fragrances. Frequent use of such ingredients not only strips your hair of its health but can also expose you to other medical hazards such as skin allergies, dermatitis and cancer.
However, one must remember that washing hair with only water can give limited cleansing benefits. Water cannot remove heavy product build-up or oil. So if you are planning to transition into a no-shampoo hair care routine, it is better to limit your use of certain hair products. Products that have an oily base or those that layer or build up on your hair shaft are better avoided.
The best way to wash your hair without shampoo is by using natural shampoo alternatives. Ayurveda recommends certain hair cleansing herbs which clean your hair without depriving it of essential oils. They are also packed with tons of hair benefitting properties, giving your hair its natural health and shine.
Vedix Tip: Soak a few neem and tulsi leaves overnight and use this water to wash your hair. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of these herbs keep scalp infections, dandruff, lice and foul smells away, giving your hair a fresh feel all day.
Benefits Of Washing Hair Without Shampoo
1. Prevents Dryness
Most shampoos (including baby shampoos) contain sulphates that are harsh surfactants used to clean your hair. Shampoos that foam a lot, have a high content of sulphates. Sebum, secreted by the sebaceous glands on your scalp, acts as a natural moisturizer that coats the hair shaft and prevents dryness.
Harsh cleansing agents, along with dirt, remove this essential oil leaving your hair and scalp too dry and irritated. Switching to a no-shampoo regimen helps your hair retain its natural soft texture.
2. Limits Exposure To Harmful Chemicals
Sulphates, parabens, artificial fragrances, colours, thickening agents, dimethicone etc are some harmful chemicals found in shampoos. These give your shampoo its thick foamy feel, its enticing fragrance and attractive shimmery colours. But each comes with a health hazard. Saying no to shampoo can prevent constant exposure to such chemicals.
3. Reduces Chances Of Allergic Reactions
One of the biggest benefits of washing hair without shampoo is limited exposure to allergens. This is highly beneficial to people with auto-immune diseases such as psoriasis, and other skin conditions like hyper-sensitivity and eczema.
4. Reduces Split Ends, Breakage & Hair Loss
When you wash your hair without shampoo, your hair stays naturally moisturized. This prevents breakage and split ends. Frequently shampooing your hair can weaken the hair shaft. Apart from frizz and split ends, excessive shampooing leaves your scalp too dry thus vitiating the vata and pitta doshas which can lead to hair fall.
5. Improves Scalp Health
When your hair is cleaned with natural cleansers, your scalp is no longer dry, irritated or exposed to chemicals that are present in shampoos. This naturally improves scalp health. Furthermore, using Ayurvedic herbs to clean your scalp and hair prevents various fungal infections such as ringworm and dandruff.
6. Reduces Hair Cortisol Levels
Recent discoveries in medical science have found how washing your hair with water reduces cortisol levels  in your hair. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is a major contributor to several body and hair conditions. Studies have shown that water helps to remove this harmful hormone that gets deposited on the hair shaft.
How To Wash Your Hair Without Shampoo?
To wash your hair without shampoo, follow the below-mentioned steps.
- Wet your hair with lukewarm water.
- Massage the herbal cleansing solution onto your scalp and through the length of your hair till it lathers.
- Let it stay for 5 to 10 minutes and rinse off.
- Follow it up with a herbal conditioner to seal in the moisture.
- Use cold water for the final rinse.
- Dry your hair naturally.
What Can I Use Instead Of Shampoo To Wash My Hair?
A. Ayurvedic Herbs For Washing Hair
1. Reetha And Shikakai
"Shikaki and reetha have been popular since time immemorial to wash not just hair but also clothes and utensils,” says Dr. Zeel. Reetha (soapnut) and shikakai (soap pod) contain saponins, which are plant-based surfactants. A cleansing solution made from reetha and shikakai gently cleans your scalp and hair without stripping it of natural oils.
This keeps hair shiny and moisturized. These ancient herbs have amazing keshya (hair benefiting) properties that promote hair growth and prevent various hair and scalp issues such as dandruff, infections, premature greying and hair loss.
How To Use
- Soak reetha and shikakai in water overnight.
- Heat the mixture till it begins to froth.
- Cool it down to room temperature and strain.
- Wet your hair and massage the solution on your scalp and through the length of your hair. Leave it for 10 minutes and wash it off.
- You can add amla along with reetha and shikakai for better benefits.
Methi contains mild saponins which are safe for daily hair washes. Due to the presence of mucilage, it prevents frizz and dryness, giving your hair a soft, shiny appearance. Being rich in various nutrients such as folic acid, niacin, Vitamin A, B, C and others, methi promotes healthy hair growth. Its anti-inflammatory properties also keep dandruff and scalp infections away.
How To Use
- Soak methi seeds overnight in water.
- Blend them to form a paste.
- Massage on your scalp and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
"Fenugreek seeds when added to reetha and amla make very good suds. Dry powders like amla and triphala when mixed with clay can be used to apply on the scalp and hair strands and then washed off to remove the oil," adds Dr. Zeel.
3. Japa And Japa Patta
Japa (hibiscus) is an excellent anti-dandruff and anti-hair fall remedy. Washing your hair 2 to 3 times a week with japa improves hair texture, prevents premature greying and brings a natural shine to hair. Research shows that both japa leaves and flowers can boost hair growth . Its pitta balancing properties help prevent excess pitta kapha related hair issues such as follicle death, dandruff and hair loss.
How To Use
- Remove the pollen from the japa flowers.
- Add both japa petals and leaves in a vessel of water and heat till it begins to froth and the water changes colour.
- Cool, strain and use the mixture to wash your hair.
Co-wash is often recommended for curly, dry hair. Since most conditioners contain mild surfactants, it is used as a shampoo alternative. You can even find products in the market that are labelled co-wash and specifically formulated to keep dry hair moisturized.
How To Use
- Wet your hair.
- Gently apply the required quantity of co-wash through the length of your hair. Avoid applying on the scalp as it may lead to product build-up.
- Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes and wash off.
- Dry your hair naturally to keep your hair moisturised.
C. Apple Cider Vinegar
Being slightly acidic, apple cider vinegar helps seal your cuticle layer and make your hair appear shiny. It is also effective in washing oily hair without shampoo. ACV washes also improve hair texture, clean your scalp and keep fungal scalp conditions and head lice away .
How To Use
- Simply add a few spoons of apple cider vinegar to your water.
- Pour this solution over your hair and scalp.
- Gently massage and leave it on for 2 to 3 minutes and rinse off.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Only Using Water To Wash Your Hair?
- Water cannot remove excess sebum and product build-up. This may clog your pores and prevent topically applied nutrition from reaching your hair roots.
- Sebum build-ups create the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal scalp infections such as dandruff, ringworm and even scalp acne.
- Washing your hair with only water can make your hair feel greasy and weighed down.
- Since water cannot completely remove sebum and sweat, soon your scalp and hair may begin to emit a foul smell due to bacterial or fungal growth.
The Last Word
Saying no to shampoo is a healthy and eco-friendly choice. Limiting frequent exposure to harmful chemicals improves your overall hair health and keeps other health conditions at bay. Herbal shampoo alternatives are equally effective in maintaining hair hygiene and additionally contribute to strengthening your hair.
However, you also need to limit your use of styling products and go natural to be able to continue a no-shampoo hair regime. Choosing a herbal cleanser that suits your unique prakriti can also go a long way in ensuring the health of your hair.Know Your Dosha Now
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