Monday, 12 November 2018

Story time: Breaking the wash

Back when I first started learning about methods for haircare, one of the things I really wanted to learn was how to do the most gentle washes possible.
I quickly started working on the conditioner only washes. Before I shaved my head, I would shampoo something like 3 times a week. But I started alternating with CO washes and trying to stretch the time before I had to shampoo.
After maybe half a year I had gotten it down to shampooing once a week. But after more months of trying, I just couldn't go lower. My scalp would become greasy and itchy and I would give up.
This was back when LHC was awesome and you could learn everything worth knowing, so I asked there for advice. Someone told how she had the same problem, but after letting her hair go uncomfortably greasy, it was like the plateau "broke" and she could go CO exclusively. She suggested it was something that would recondition your scalp into becoming less oily. I wasn't sure how/if it would work, but I figured why not?
I took the advice and found a stretch in my calendar where I could get away with very little social interaction.
(Who wants to see someone's nasty, greasy hair? We have social standards for hygiene for a reason! Seriously, pandemics have been halted by teaching people basic things like not spitting everywhere on the street. People not washing their hair to be "crunchy" or whatever is one of my pet peeves.)
After a week with no shampoo, I felt greasy and uncomfortable. But I kept going.
I think I managed to go 11 days before I caved in and shampooed. By then, my hair felt you could break it off in bits and light it like candles. So seriously nasty! I could barely stand myself.
But the tip worked. For some reason, and I'm not sure I can formulate the logic behind why it worked, it worked. Being allowed to completely grease over seemed to convince my scalp it needed to produce less grease.
After that, I went exclusively CO. It was very successful for me. My scalp loves CO and is completely at peace with it. CO has managed to help my scalp build a strong and resilient moisture barrier and it feels completely normal and healthy. It is completely different from my skin everywhere else which is highly reactive and irritated.
I still shampoo maybe once a year or so though; Usually in the autumn when my scalp becomes unhappy with the wet and cold air outside and hot and dry air inside, and I can't be bothered to keep CO'ing the flakes.
It was disgusting while it happened, but the result was awesome and worth it!


  1. Funny how I tried so hard to not wash daily--even as a kid, my parents said to wash every other day. But with excessively oily hair, my scalp was unhappy. I had sores, scabs and really bad patches of dandruff. The only way my scalp was happy was daily washing. I even had to get a special shampoo from my mom's hair dresser to keep the oil controlled. I did manage to wash every other day with that shampoo, and oddly enough, I never needed conditioner until I began working extensively with horses. That, of course, was also when I had to wash daily---I remember time of trying a new shampoo, and I only washed my scalp, not my length, and would massage into the greasy areas, and after rinsing and letting it air dry, my scalp would still be oily. I hated that.

    As I aged, I found a great Ph balanced shampoo, Timotei, which was the BEST I've ever used, but sadly was discontinued in my area (and I don't think it was the samea as what is sold in Sweden). I found that clarifying shampoos made my scalp very happy, and trust me, I tried all sorts of methods, but my SD returned with a vengance. It took me 2 yrs to get my scalp to be happy again, and some serious SD, boarding psoriasis---the most painful bout yet, and it hurt. Nothing I could do would ease it except topical steroid drops from my Dr. I did find a good shampoo that was peppermint based and eased the burning feeling while that healed. The first time was due to stress (oh, the hair loss!), and the second time due to stress triggered by hormones.

    The key is not to give up and to see what works, but also know your scalps limits. Mine just got painful and hurt--like a burning, itching, bleeding sore that told me I needed to find a different solution to my scalp issues. And thankfully I did! :)

  2. same here.
    my hair feels weighed downand a bit greasy just after shampooing. it doesn't happen with co-wash though, only maybe sometimes... with shampoo my hair feels oily in 6 hours. but yeah sometimes a good shampooing is needed...
    PS: I have 1c/f/m/ii (8 and 8,50 cm pony circ.)

  3. I've tried for several years to only wash every other day, but I was never truly happy with it, regardless of trying it with shampoo or CO and brand also didn't seem to make a difference. On the second day, my hair was never nice, it had that waxy feeling and I felt like it also smelled a bit when you got too close. Not to mention, my SD hated it and it and the scalp always felt off.

    I've been washing daily again for years and it's what works for me. I'd love to get it down to every other day, but as my scalp freaks out if I just miss one wash, I don't think I could go cold turkey like you did and stretch it even further.
    I'm experimenting with shampoos containing sulfur and tar at the moment to see whether that calms down the SD. Sulfur seems to help somewhat, but I'm reluctant to test out the tar shampoo, it smells strongly and it's not a smell I'd want to subject my co-workers to.