The Water Only Washing method isn’t a new concept, but it started to gain notoriety on natural hair forums around 2013, and the premise is that our naturally occurring sebum is all the product we need. By eliminating all other products from your regimen, including natural oils and butters, you can simply use water to move the sebum down the hair shaft and eventually coat the hair completely. Once the hair is completely coated with sebum from your scalp, your hair is said to be soft and moisturized, easy to detangle, and your natural curls will pop.
To start the Water Only Washing method, you must first completely clarify your hair of any product build-up with either a clarifying shampoo, apple cider vinegar rinse, or clay wash. Then massage the scalp daily and do daily water rinses, until the sebum has completely coated your hair strands from root to tip. This can take several weeks. Once your hair is fully coated, you can water wash n go each day, detangling with your fingers or a seamless tool.
While you can find lots of people who’ve tried this method and sing its praises, there are also those who have tried this method, and experienced negative effects. Some report clogged hair follicles that result in slow hair growth, itchy scalp, and dryness. Others report waxy buildup, a grey tinge to their hair, and bad smelling hair and scalp. When these issues occur, many WOW advocates recommend introducing some plant-based products into your regimen, like plant-based deep conditioners, leave-in conditioners, and hair rinses.
Many in the professional hair care arena do not recommend it. This is based on their training and expertise about the science of how the hair and scalp work. While the sebum itself is awesome, they would argue that there is so much other dirt and buildup that your hair and scalp is exposed to that need to be removed, and water just won’t do. Sweat, dirt, and pollen are just a few things in the environment that land and sit in our hair and scalps, that water alone may not remove. Also, there are many like myself who’s scalp produces an extremely excessive amount of sebum that this method would not be a good fit for.
While the Water Only Washing method is not recommended by the pros, it’s hard to deny the videos and blog posts describing hair bliss by following this regimen.