rinse only method (ROM) / water only washing

2021 edit: i no longer subscribe to or support the “all-natural” label. more here.

[ check out UPDATE 1 (5/9/13), UPDATE 2 (5/24/13), UPDATE 3 (6/21/13), UPDATE 4 (8/15/13) ]

oh, readers… dear readers… i will be embarking on the journey to only “washing” my hair by rinsing it with water! that’s it! seriously. 

water-only washing for hair

what is water-only-washing/ the ROM?
it’s literally only washing your hair with water. it’s the ultimate low maintenance hair routine, but does require more elbow grease.

with this method, you’re not stripping your hair of its natural oils, but rather spreading them down the length of your hair with preening, and “washing” away the excess with water and scritching. aka, scritching and preening will be a necessity!

scritching and preening:
scritching – to scritch, gently “scratch” and rub your scalp all over to loosen up sebum and excess scalp oils
preening – to preen using your fingers,, take small sections of your hair and gently “pull” the oils/sebum from your roots down the length of your hair. you can also preen by brushing with your bbb.
*you want to scritch and preen DAILY!

other things you’ll need to do the ROM:

  • boar bristle brush. make sure you keep it clean!
  • wooden brush
  • water-only friendly conditioner
  • satin pillow case (i know i’ve already advised this for ALL hair routines and types, but i thought it needed stressed again)
  • patience! a lot of patience.

who can/can’t try the ROM?

  • anyone! fine hair, straight hair, curly hair, thick hair… anyone and everyone!

HOW TO:

  • if you’re already no-poo/low-poo, you won’t need to clarify your hair again. if you’re switching directly from using traditional store-bought shampoos and conditioners, you will need to clarify your hair to slough off the silicones and waxes. to clarify, you can pick up a cheap $1 shampoo and mix it with a little baking soda in your palm in the shower. wash your hair with that mix from root to tip, let it sit a few minutes, gently wash a little more, and then rinse very well. you may find that your hair is dry afterwards, without all the silicones coating your hair. you’ll need to deep condition after. you can do this by using any of these deep conditioners
  • wait a few days (after you clarify/after your last no-poo/low-poo wash) until your hair gets greasy. this will be your first water-only wash day! congrats!
  • before you hop in the shower, scritch and preen! you can use your bbb and/or wooden brush to help.
  • wet your hair in the shower with very warm water. do NOT use very hot water! heat damage is heat damage, no matter if it’s from a straightener, curling iron, or hot shower water!
  • focus on small sections of your scalp, and scritch under the running water until you’ve gone over your whole scalp. this will most likely tire your arms. i know it did mine! lol. you can preen as well after you’ve scritched each section.
  • done! gently squeeze the excess water from your hair and let air dry. wait until your hair is dry to detangle. your hair is more flexible and prone to breakage when wet, and you don’t want to stress it.

things you may notice when you start:

  • greasy hair. you’ll be going through a transition phase just as you did going no-poo/low-poo. your hair will need time to adjust to not being stripped of anything. the grease production will level out anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. try not to let that scare ya off!
  • dandruff looking stuff in your hair and/or itchy scalp. this is extra sebum and will calm down as you go through the transition phase – scritching/preening and using your bbb will help tremendously with this! but the transition phase is sadly unavoidable. keep your chin up buttercup! (check out my updates, linked above!)
  • “heavy” hair. it’s from the excess grease. try to stick it out! it’ll calm down as you go through the transtion phase as well.
  • you don’t feel a need for a conditioner – this is completely normal! your own scalp oils are the BEST conditioner for your hair, and it’s very likely you won’t need to condition, either at all or maybe once every few weeks.

i hope this post helped your learn all about the ROM ❤

UPDATE: i’ve created a post for ROM tips for success! i hope it helps!

has anyone tried the “rinse only method”? or want to?
what are your thoughts??? would YOU do it?!?

alrighty… here i go!!

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121 thoughts on “rinse only method (ROM) / water only washing

  1. Hi! Greetings from Germany 🙂

    I have started following your blog and am pumped to start going RÓM.
    The only problem is that Im confused about the clarifying process. Its been around 3-4 weeks since I have stopped washing my hair with any soaps and only used water. I am a very lazy Girl, so before I had even read your blog I only washed my hair once a week if I felt like it( with Shampoo and deep condtioner). I haven´t clarified yet, as Im not sure what to use. I have a Shampoo from LUSH called BIG and the only ingredients that seem suspicious to me are called (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) (Lauryl Betaine) and (Alpha-IsomethylIonone).
    I it possible that its safe for me to use as a clarifyer?

    Thank you so much. I really hope that you and the rest of the community can help me 🙂

  2. I thought I’d comment here, I saw this 11 months ago and thought I’d give it a go. I had thin, oily, wispy,extremely flat and damaged hair. I used to wash/shampoo twice a week only and my hair still was a wreck; it was impossible for it to look nice without blow drying or using any sort of product. My hair would get greasy within 6 hours of shampooing and no matter how I moisturized with oils or conditioned, nothing worked. So I thought I had nothing to lose.

    It took me 9 months to transition. yes. NINE MONTHS. I didn’t go out much, but just looking in the mirror was depressing. I scritched, preened, brushed with my bbb (mason pearson), washed with lukewarm water once every 6-7 days, and used the egg hair wash every 2 weeks. The worst of the transition was over in 5 months I admit, but it was then stuck in a limbo where my hair would last 5 days, or sometimes just 2 before getting greasy. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. The roots would be oily and the rest of the hair was dry and strawlike.

    During month 10 things finally started looking up. My hair got volume and body! I would get split ends within two months of cutting but it’s been over half a year and there are none =) My hair now grows twice as fast as it ever did too. I just couldn’t figure out how to get healthy and silky hair with sebum alone (yes, despite having oily hair) so I finally came to this blog again and started looking at the deep conditioners a month and a half back. I now use two egg yolks (not the whites, they dry it out), 2 tablespoons of yogurt, a teaspoon of honey, a little olive oil, and keep the mask on once a week for an hour before washing and it’s done wonders. I didn’t see any difference for a whole month but I read on another site that for the deep conditioning to work, you had to stick with it for a few months—and I did. I adore my hair now, and I assure you, even if you’re unlucky like me and go through a year-long transition, it’s definitely still worth it. I really wanted to share this for all the others who think they’ll have oily and flat hair forever. A crappy hair day is bad, a crappy hair year is unimaginable, but it pays off over and over in the long run.

    P.s. I should admit that I didn’t get a soft water showerhead…probably a reason why mine took so long to transition…but all’s well that ends well. Good luck to you all!

    1. Omg I am so happy to have read your post! I changed my usual hair cleaning routine 16 weeks ago now. I started off diluting a commercial shampoo and using diluted AVC to rinse – no conditioner! I did that for 4 weeks to easy me in. Then, I switched to BS & AVC rinses – I did that for 4 weeks also and only used the BS twice as I am very aware that it is bad for hair but boy does it clean it! In those 4 weeks I did a couple of water rinses but this was before I knew about Scritching & Preening. Oil was BAD! In desperation I used a small amount of diluted poo as I did before 😦 I then bought a filtered shower head to soften the water and I bought the Morroccan Method shampoos & detox and used them for 4 weeks – I found this made my hair just as greasy if not more so I stopped. So for the last nearly 4 weeks (since the 26th Oct 2015) I have been water only – although I have used raw honey and rye flour and in desperation i used BS 😦 I am just not having any change to the amount of oil and I still get flakes – which leads me to think that my scalp may be dry & the water is either drying it out more and/or its just not hydrating it enough. I wanted to look into the hydrating hair masks so see if that helps but I am scared that I won’t b able to wash it out and then I’ll be left with food stuffs in my hair! Lol how to you wash yours out exactly, do you still use them & how often? Thanks so much 🙂

  3. I just started my ROM journey this past Monday. It’s been alright so far. I’ve read thru all your posts regarding ROM. I look forward to this 🙂 eek!!!!!!

  4. Just want to say THANKS for introducing me to this method of hair care. So far I’ve been doing it for 3.5 months. I don’t think I’m completely over the whole transition process yet, but I can feel my hair getting closer with every wash! The last coue of months after washing my hair I’ve just thought, wow! My hair feels so clean and fluffy! I used to suffer with split ends SO BAD which I am so surprised and pleased that I don’t have to deal with yet! It’s crazy, this is so much more effective than all the different products for split ends that I used to use. I have been only washing my hair once every 6-7 days, and it usually looks its best on the second day. When i first started my damaged, previously dyed hair was awful! But I stuck it out and although there is still a difference between my old damaged hair and the fresh new growth coming in, it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. I’m so glad that I discovered your blog online and learned about this hair washing method. I know my hair is happy that I haven’t been burning it with heat too. Today someone even asked me if I straightened my hair. And my natural straight hair looks so much nicer, healthier, and just better than my heat-induced stick straight flat hair from before. Well, I just wanted to say thanks for all of the advice and tips, your site has been so helpful to me😊

    1. this is so incredibly great to hear, melissa! thanks so much for sharing your story! what is your biggest tip for those new to ROM, or for those needing a little nudge to try it?

  5. Hello! I have been doing ROM for about 4 months now and my hair is really hard to put in to things like ponytails, It gets frizzy, is super dandruffy/sebumy, and seems to string up (and sometimes it’s a bit over greasy). I don’t use the boar brush as much as I would like to and I don’t own a satin pillow case. As well I occasionally go on to chlorinated pools that upset my hair balance and the brush I do usually us is plastic. Any ideas on how to fix some of these problems? I may just go back to using Wen beca De it seems to be the best for my hair. Thanks:)

    1. hey rina! sometimes ROM can be a little tricky, but let’s try to fix it! firstly, acidic rinses after being in the pool (as well as protecting your hair before you jump in) is very important! i have a post for it if you search for acidic rinse in the search box. are you moisturizing your hair at all? if so, with what and how often? also, have you thought about doing herbal scalp rinses? lemme know your thoughts!

  6. Hello 🙂

    Sooo I have dabbled in the water only method recently… this is a huge deal for me as I have diagnosed OCD I used to wash my curly, frizzy, kinky hair every single day for years on end. My hair would break off, fall out, but I couldn’t stop. OCD has no logic. I had to chop it all off into a pixie cut. Anyway…

    When I did this…i made it to 4 days (I know, not very long, but felt like years to me) on the 4th day, my head felt like it was on fire and sores popped up all over it. I HAD to wash.

    My question is, you mentioned in a previous post, a mixture that gets rid of basically smelly and nasty hair…could I use that once every 4 to 5 days and use organic CO as a leave in just on my ends at least ONLY after using the mixture to “wash” it, and water wash every day?

    I fear that the CO may be too much as a leave in and therefore cause breakage?

    I hate my hair/scalp if i wash it everyday i have flakes and my hair falls out…if i don’t wash it every day, I STILL have flakes and then itchy scalp sores.

    UGH!! Help? 😦 lol

  7. I’ve been rinse only for two weeks. I went straight from regular shampooing to water only. My hair is thick, slightly wavy, and dry. I never had a transition period with water only. My hair was so dry that the oil my scalp produces coats my hair nicely and gives it a great shine without product. So far I’m loving rinse only. I’m getting ready to give away all my hair products. I’ve even switched to rinse only for my body wash, it has helped my eczema a lot. My hair is shoulder length and in the past I’ve had to sraighten it, blow dry it, use lots of product to curl it, or put it up just to make my hair look reasonable. Now my hair looks nice down without any product or heat treatment. My hair has been so damaged by heat, bleaching, and dying. I’m finally giving it a serious go at growing my hair out. I’m so thankful for this blog and all of the advice.

  8. does anybody know the answer to this question;

    do I have to buy a cheap shampoo without silicones or can i use any shampoo as long as it doesn’t have silicones in it?
    also, is there some homemade ways to clarify?

  9. Hello, I just went no-poo 5 days ago. I used the ROM method today for the second time and yes, it’s still REALLY greasy. I don’t want to give up but is it too bad if I keep my hair tied and using a hairband so people don’t notice my hair and think I’m not very hygienic?
    I want to let it loose whenever it gets normal but for the time being I’m struggling because my scalp is still in “shock”, aha 🙂

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