rinse-only (water-only) method… update 5

hey crunchies! it’s been months since i’ve last updated you on my ROM journey, and i’ve gotten a few emails and comments asking how it’s going. i figured i should do a little update, and this will hopefully be the LAST update on my ROM journey! (that’s good news! lol)

if you’re new to ROM and/or the AE blog, i’ll give you a quick run-down:

the ROM (rinse-only method) is only washing your hair with water, and using your natural scalp oils to “condition” your hair. it’s a very tough transition for a lot of people at first (myself included) to get away from using anything but water to keep your hair clean. it took me about 4 months! and i think my arm muscles improved from all the scritching/preening i had to do to move the oils form my scalp to the ends of my hair.

but going water-only has proven (for me personally) to be the best option for my hair. even after the dye abuse my hair went through, it’s grown out to be soft and shiny and strong. long story short, me love da ROM.

water-only washing for hair

what i’ve been doing:

  • ditched the dry shampoo completely
  • use a shower head filter
  • scritch and preen about every 3 days (just being honest 😦 ), and then again very thoroughly before WO washes
  • use my bbb once a week to week and a half (…again, just bein honest)
  • gently comb and separate my hair into 4 sections before i hop in the shower, then preen under the running water
  • let my hair air dry (shower at night)
  • no oils and no conditioners of any kind
  • spray rose water into my hair just for scent (i’ve considered using the yummy smelling versions of alcohol-free witch hazel, too. we’ll see! has anyone tried??)

how it’s been:

it’s actually gotten much, much, much better than it used to be. i can now say strongly that i’m strictly water-only. and daggone it feels good!

20140331_223316 20140331_223212

my one huge problem with going WO (water-only) was the back of my head. for some reason it was always feeling heavy and greasy and just overall pretty gross. i had to REALLY focus on that area to scritch/preen/brush/wash. on select weekends, i’d stay at home allllll weekend and let it get as greasy as it wanted to. i think it helped out with not producing as much oil as before, but it was still a problem area. and now when i wash, it’s the back of my head and the underside of my hair that’s greasy. not so much the top parts. but no more heavy feeling!

one huge hiccup i had: i visited my best friend in phoenix one weekend, and he has hard water. as soon as i wet my hair in the shower, it felt sticky and heavy. i tried to preen as much as i could, but my hair felt heavy and weird/sticky after my shower. once my hair dried, it just looked weirdly greasy. needless to say, my hair was in a braid and a bun that entire weekend.
but other than that hiccup (i’ve traveled many, many times since, even out of the country) i haven’t had any issues with stickiness or being overly-greasy. i did notice that my scalp gets greasier around that time of month (yea, TMI). thanks, hormones.


my scalp definitely got drier this winter, but i’ve used the honey/witch hazel rinse a couple times and it’s been fine.

i think the biggest difference i’ve noticed in my hair is the way it feels. no matter what day i’m on between washing, it always feels so freakin soft and moisturized. the second biggest difference i’ve noticed is how much faster it dries after washing it. when i used conventional shampoo/conditioner, my hair would literally take hours to dry. we’re talking 3 or 4 hours or more. not exaggerating. now my hair dries in about an hour. it’s been a miracle! haha.  best of all, i don’t ever have that tacky, heavy, weird feeling in the back of my head anymore. my scalp has finally gotten its stuff together!


right now i’m washing every week, usually sundays. some weeks i wash sunday-ish and wednesday-ish.. i really have no set schedule, but that’s what tends to happen. i just kinda go with the flow. it’s usually something like “oh, good morning hair. are you lookin greasy? think we can wait to wash till tomorrow? ok, cool. good chat.”


… kind of.

hippie stamp Sig

61 thoughts on “rinse-only (water-only) method… update 5

  1. I am almost 8 weeks into ROM, but i am having a tough time staying motivated. My hair is thin and generally wavy… with no heat to style or shampoo to rid of oil, I haven’t been able to wear my hair down this whole time. It looks like a wavy, frizzy grease ball. I try to scritch and preen every few days, but preening is very tough to do with my wavy, textured hair (it starts to tangle right away…even with lots of brushing and detangling prior) 😦 How long did it take some of you guys to get out of the transition phase? I am growing my hair out and I would love to wear it down, but it is not at all acceptable, plus i feel like its frizzier now. I am about to chop off my hair and use shampoo!

    Also, I did the coconut oil mask this weekend, but the egg yolk to water ratio that alex posted about did not work for me. I had to take a second shower where I applied 2 egg yolks directly to my hair and massage it in for 5-10 minutes.

    1. aw just want to post an encouraging reply. it took me a while to get through the transition too. but i also have some things that helped…scritching the scalp everyday with fingernails helps a lot and doesn’t tangle the hair. and for me it also has to do with my overall wellbeing and just doing what feels good to my head/hair. brushing with a boar bristle brush helps a lot too but it takes a long time, so i try to just be sort of meditative and keep brushing and brushing. anyway, i hope this helps. sending encouragement your way.

  2. Hey Alex!! Great blog! Ive been at this rom for around 2 months and did baking soda acv for a good year before that. The grease is slowly getting less but when i scritch and preen I get the most horrendous dandruff, and as I use my bbb my scalp is super itchy 😦 Is this just a normal part of the transition? My hair is dark brown like yours so it is really noticable! My hair is also a little smelly but I havent tried a rinse of any sort yet so maybe there is one which can help with my problem? I also wanted to mention that my daughter of 20 months is rom too since birth and her hair is gorgeous!!! Thanks for everything!

  3. Hey, I’ve just started the “ROM journey” and have a question. All though I’m not using any products in my hair, may i still rinse it daily with water, or will that just slow down the transition period?

    Your hair looks lovely!

    p.s. forgive any misspelling or incorrect grammar, english is not my first language.

  4. This is a very inspiring post, thank you for sharing. I kind of want to share my journey as well, for those still struggling with the rinse only method.

    I started back in March, and I decided to ease into it by shampooing once a week. I still had places to be and people to make myself presentable to, so quitting shampoo entirely wasn’t an option. My hair gets highly greasy very quickly, feeling heavy and cold and tacky on my scalp. Through the years I’ve never been able to use conditioner on my roots, because mere hours after the shower my hair would look stringy from my excess oil production.

    After a month of the once-a-week shampoo routine, I decided to quit cold turkey and go ROM. It was very hard and my hairstyles were limited, but I stuck with rinse only for about two months before I realized that the length of my hair about half an inch off of my head was worse than my roots. I figured I should cleanse away the old, excess oil to give my hair a chance to do its thing. I shampooed. Imagine my disappointment when only two days later, I was a grease pit again. Cue the despair. Maybe this just wouldn’t work for me because my hair was too oily. Shouldn’t my scalp be adjusting by now? Shouldn’t I be producing less oil, not the exact same amount as two months ago? And why do I always smell musky? Will this ever work?

    I threw out the shampoo. I remembered my original reasons for ditching shampoo, tied my hair in a bun, and forged on. The facts all made sense: what did people do before shampoo, walk around greasy? Nope. Was my body designed to be dependent on soaps? Nope. I was going to beat this.

    But it was hard to beat when I could smell my musky hair every time I stood or turned my head. I smelled like a wet dog in the shower. Being active and sweating doesn’t help. The oil and the smell were always there, even though my husband said he couldn’t smell a thing. I mixed 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (yes, 1/2 TEASPOON, that’s it) with warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil. I dumped it on my head and scrubbed it all around my scalp for a minute, massaging it with my finger tips. I rinsed, dried, observed. No more smell, my hair was clean and pretty, grease abolished. This might help me get to ROM. I rinsed with baking soda maybe twice in one month (once every two weeks) and still, my hair produced oil 2-3 days afterward. The musky smell always came back. I didn’t want to have to rely on baking soda or other cleansers for my hair, I hate depending on the status of my scalp’s oil for my social activities. This wouldn’t do.

    This is when I got brave. I needed to kill whatever bacteria was making the musky smell. I also figured that if my body was producing oil to compensate for the constant stripping, then maybe if I constantly added oil it would stop producing extra. I took the tea tree oil in the shower, dumped a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of it in a little cup and mixed it with hot water really well. Dumped it on my head. Yep, pure oil, on my oily hair. I rubbed this around really good. The smell of the tea tree oil was very potent, but I kept with it, getting it all over. My hair felt extremely oily now, even under the water. I mixed up some more and poured it on spots of my hair that didn’t feel slick yet. Rubbed it all in. I rinsed and dried and noticed something strange. My hair looked as if it had been washed, even though I’d only added oil.

    Two days later I got a boar bristle brush and brushed my hair from roots to tip, flipping my head this way and that to make sure I got all sections, then hopped in the shower for a nice rinse. Still no grease, and the length of my hair looked and smelled great. It’s been a week and the oiliness is gone. My hair doesn’t smell musky anymore either, it has the faint, clean scent of tea tree oil.

    I’m sort of amazed. And while I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet, I think I’m definitely more on track now than I was four months ago. Realistically, it will probably take me about a year for my hair to fully adapt to life without shampoo. But for right now, I can let my hair down in public for the first time in months. Baby steps! Don’t give up people, it’s worth it to escape the slavery of hair care products!

    1. Hi Taryn, how is your hair going today? I’m intrigued as my hair sounds similar. I’m not brave enough to try the tea-tree-oil-wash yet.

  5. Hey Alex I absolutely love how honest you’ve been about this whole hair process. I’ve been doing no-poo for about 3 months and am now moving on to ROM. I was wondering though if you only get your hair wet on wash days? I love getting my whole head wet whenever I shower but I was wondering if that could cause problems with ROM? Thanks, you’re awesome!

  6. Hey,

    A question… I had been doing rom for about 10 weeks and got fed up. Since then I have washed my hair with baking soda/ apple cider vinegar 3 or 4 times thinking I was done with rinse only. Now I’m regretting it and I’m wondering if I went back if it would be like I was starting over? If so, I won’t go through all of that again, I would rather use bs/av, but if I could get through just a few more weeks then I want to try. Thanks in advance!

  7. Hey Alex (or anyone with answers for me)
    I’m trying this method am having a hard time.
    My hair is always greasy at the roots and underneath (hence, putting my hair up only exposes the greasy underneath) I use your dry shampoo mix and love it! But my hair is greasy again the next morning and I have to reapply it.. Everyday!
    On top of that, washing my hair with water doesn’t seem to get the dry shampoo out of my hair, so I’m pretty much just putting more and more cocoa powder in my hair everyday. In fact, washing my hair with water only doesn’t seem to effect my hair at all.
    I read your whole journey (very funny and inspiring) and I have all the goods (but, soft water, dry shampoo, etc.)
    You mentioned distilled water for washing, this might be my next step, but wouldn’t Mineral water be better since distilled water lacks…. minerals:)?
    Is the dry shampoo everyday hindering my transition period? If so, I can’t see myself walking around with ghastly greasy hair for who knows how long:(

  8. Hey Alex!

    Just finished my 2nd week of WO and it’s fruuuuustratinggggg. But I think I’ve finally got it down. I rinsed this morning because I couldn’t take it anymore, my hair was absolutely gummy and gross.
    I alternated between cold and warm water, which I kinda put off because I have very low tolerance for anything cold (ironically, I live in Canada), but I finally sucked it up and did it!

    Seems to have a better effect than just rinsing with warm water, preening and BBB’ing.

    I’m constantly coming back to your ROM series so I can stay motivated! I’ve been on and off with no-poo for about a year now and I’m finally in a more stable state to commit to WO. So keep it up! 😀

    Your hair’s looking so fabulous<3
    So thanks for keeping us updated on the ups and downs! It helps alot!

    If I get my hair half as decent as yours by my graduation date (June 11), I'll be one happy lady! 🙂

  9. Hey Alex!
    I am a curly! And I have switched to ROM. I wanted to share my experience with you so that other curlies can benefit too 🙂 I started with the BS/ACV rinses a few months back. I started ROM back in March, and it has been great for my hair! My curls are healthier, and my hair is growing so fast! I have less frizz, other than this week because of all the wind where I live, but thats a different story. I still have an itchy scalp sometimes but it definitely decreased about a week ago when I decided to dye my hair using Henna. Gotta say… curly hair+ ROM+henna dye= absolutely in love with my hair. Before I used the henna My curls were a bit dry, still getting used to only water. But the henna gave my hair an extra health boost and its been amazing since!
    One thing I noticed that you do that doesn’t work for my hair is a boar bristle brush -_- I tried and I tried but all it did was poof out my hair and relax my curls. No Bueno! It didnt even distribute the oils after an hour and a half of brushing… So heres what I do instead and its been working so far: I get my hair wet every night, some nights “washing” it with my fingertips under the warm water for 5-10 minutes and other nights just letting water run through it. BUT before every shower, I run a bamboo paddle brush through my hair. I like the one from the body shop. It really helps pull the oils through out my hair, I don’t even need to use my fingers to do it because the brush works so well! Then I shower and the water helps bring the oils through out even more! Thats it! If my hair is ever feeling a bit dry from weather or whatever, I use a tiny bit of Argon Oil through out it and I’m good. I just let it air dry and its good for the night and next day. If needed in the morning, I use a spray bottle to dampen to get rid of bed head frizz.
    Sorry for the long post but I thought my fellow curlies could benefit 😀 Thank you so much for your blog! It really inspired me and helped with the transitions. Your posts kept me going when I wanted to quit. Thanks a ton!

leave your comments and questions below -

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s