It’s The End of Shampoo As I Know It

For decades, I was a shampoo-every-day woman. I didn’t feel “clean” unless I scrubbed my head every morning. As I have very fine, curly hair, it’s no surprise I finished with a dry fuzzy look many days. My natural curls did not take any attractive shape. I often just pulled my hair back in a messy bun.

Undefined curls and lots of frizz (and no makeup – bravery!)

About five years ago I stumbled upon an article about the no-shampoo method for curly hair. Yuck! was my first response. It sounded as gross as forgoing soap or toothpaste. But I slowly eased myself into a less-sudsy routine, starting with a shampoo every other day. Then a switch to non-sulfate shampoo.

I fell in with the Naturally Curly crowd, who have a devoted following at their website, and I studied their bible, Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. I experimented with plopping (I am not making this up), scrunching, and pineappling.

I am now down to two washes a week, one with conditioner only and one with a mix of conditioner and a non-sulfate shampoo. My curls are much healthier and some days they take on a very fetching shape (not every day – we do still have the scrape-into-a-bun days).

A couple of years later, much better-defined curls (and a bit of makeup, ahhhh)

You know I am not a prescriber of styles or routines, but if you’re struggling with unruly curls I do recommend the Naturally Curly site and Massey’s book. Do an little experiment, and see if your curls respond to less shampoo. I’m still learning new tricks, Not Dead Yet!

Have a spectacular Saturday, and don’t forget, Monday, September 17th is Visible Monday! Everyone is welcome to participate!

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  1. It's funny – I have straight hair and I always thought "undefined curls" where the way curls are meant to be. A friend of mine also does all that's in her power to create "defined curls". To me defined curls are not more beautiful than undefined curls.
    I guess it is something one with straight hair can hardly really understand. I just love curls, no matter in which shape they appear.

    Yes, very brave: without makeup. 😀

  2. Patti-you're gorgeous with your make-up!!
    I've started using a homemade castile soap on my hair and rinsing every couple days with vinegar. I can't believe the difference-softer, fuller hair!!

  3. Wow, I think it's really working for you!  I must admit I am and always have been a bit "skanky" when it comes to hair washing.. Mine has always got washed twice a week!! Hehe…

  4. You look gorgeous in both your photos. I love your hair and would kill for natural curls like yours. My hair is dead straight when I first wash it and develops an interesting kink the longer I leave it between washes so I wash it as little as possible and use dry shampoo in-between if it gets annoyingly oily. x

  5. It takes a brave, naturally-beautiful woman to go makeup-free. And I have done that a lot this summer, especially during the hot month of August. You look great, wrinkles and all. True Natural Beauty and Kindness on your face. I don't wash my hair every day even-though sometimes I think it needs it. I am actually pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my hair.

  6. I meant to say 'washing my hair every day'.  This is what happens when you start commenting before caffeine!

  7. I gave up washing my hair many years ago.  My hair issue is fine hair which is neither curly nor stick straight. I've come to be more relaxed about the way my hair looks after being slept on.  I used to feel obliged to strive for a perfectly coiffed look.  Forget that!  Now I rarely wash it more than twice a week and use sulphate free products.  I can see the difference in your hair – it's both curly and glossy.  

  8. Patti, I can come out of the closet now! I only wash my hair twice a week. It's very dry, neither curly or straight (but certainly unruly), and if I wash it more often, it looks like straw. My oldest, The Costume Technician, only washes her biracial, naturally curly hair once a week – and has been leaving the conditioner in for years. 

  9. My curls need to be wet into submission each morning, but I only rinse them, saving the shampoo for every 3rd or 4th day. I've done this for years, and it seems to work. I swear by Curls Rock (by Tigi) Curls Amplifier although lately I've been trying an Aveda product again. It leaves no crunch, unlike the Curls Rock, but is more prone to wooliness by day's end. The biggest single trick, I'd say, is not to work the hair, right? I put the product into my hair wet, scrunch, swirl into ringlets the spots most likely to tangle, then let it hair-dry, leaving it alone completely except for one picking session when it's quite dry. 

  10. Lucky you Patti!
    I would do anything to have your hair! Mine are thin and totally flat. It seems easier to tame curls than to give volume to flat hair. Boooh .
    Have a lovely weekend 😉 Anne

  11. Back when I had long hair (oh! a looooong time ago) I had killer curls. My secret? I refused to comb it and washed it only as needed, as few times a week. And I added olive oil/coconut oil to my hair, because I liked the heaviness the oil gave my tresses- my hair looked like a painting- with ringlets cascading everywhere.
    That's when it wasn't scraped into a bun, as I hated hair in the face.

    Anyhoo, I am chiming in saying that curly hair and shampoo are NOT friends, and you really show comfort with yourself when you stop conforming to straight hair ideals and accept your quirks and curls as they are.

    Bravo, lovely Patti!

  12. Your curls are so fabulous! I'm unfortunately one of those who has to wash their hair everyday. I've tried a number of different methods, and I can occasionally skip a day, but no matter what I've done my hair just prefers a good ole lathering up with some tea tree oil and a henna application once in awhile.

  13. I can see the difference in your curls, for sure.  I have heard so many good things about that book.  I have stick straight hair, but I have recommended the book to curly girl friends because I have heard rave reviews about how well it works.


  14. Believe it or not, I have extra curly, frizzy hair…just ask my husband when he watches it air dry!!  I only shampoo twice a week…but I might try the conditioner only time.  Thanks for letting us know your secrets!

  15. I agree that with or without makeup you look fantastic!! When I colour my hair especially I follow a similar routine of less shampooing – my hair gets too dry. If I shampoo more frequently I just end up putting so much goop in my hair that I have to wonder what's the point of cleaning it?

  16. With or without makeup, you look fabulous! My hair is very fine and until recent years, has tended toward quite oily. I started using Leonor Greyl's Banana Milk a few years ago, which carried me between shampoos, and now I just use Pureology shampoo without sulphates three times per week (thinking I can cut back even more).

  17. I think I got the recommendation of Curly Girl from you a few months ago, or maybe a year ago! I guess time flies. Anyway I started alternating water-only days with conditioner-only days and shampoo days, and my curls are definitely bigger and stronger. The funny thing is that when I explained to my stylist that more conditioner = better curls, she didn't believe me! She still thinks that conditioner weighs the hair down and makes it flat.

  18. I've got curls and they do dry out if I shampoo every day…I am off to check out her site and thanks for the tip…

  19. I am going to try to comment without leaving a "post".  As another Curly girl, Lorraine Massey adherent, I have had my share of struggles.  Just lately (like in the past 2 months), my hair has been behaving much better.  I attribute this to a better hair style for my curls (can't do one length bobs but can't be too short in layers either) and the following products: Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle shampoo (gentle and used at most every other day); Aveda's Be Curly shampoo (when more conditioning is needed); Matrix's Design Pulse Loosely Defined Texture Creme (not too heavy for my hair texture) and DevaCurl Spray Gel.  When I strictly followed the Curly Girl book (no shampoo, only conditioner), it did not work for me.  My hair can not tolerate too much product…the Matrix and DevaCurl seem to be the perfect styling combo when used with a light touch.  

    In general, Massey's book has been indispensable for learning how to take care of my hair.  I wanted to be a no shampoo gal but I am more of a low poo one instead.  

  20. Patti,   I can't wait to look at this site because I have a ver similar hair texture as you.  I struggle with it for years!  After I had my last son nearly 8 years ago my natural curls straightened a bit leaving me with less curly but still wavy, frizzy fine hair that was even more uncooperative.  And, hair that is curly in some places, straight in others and wavy in a few places.  I'm going to peek right now at the site!  

    Lisa/Dangerous Curves

  21. your post reaches me in due time. i am just doing some experiences with my hair because i don't want to have it cut, what will be necessary when i wash and smooth it every day. for a couple of weeks now i wash my hair every second or third day and that's ok. for some days now i try to style my hair without smoothing it. it is so thin that the curls disappear after some hours and only some waves remain which give me an uncombed look. today i found a hair styling gel that defines the curls and make them last longer, hopefully. anyway i will go on experiencing and am glad that other do too. thank you for the good advice. lieben gruß von sabine

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