This post has been updated. Click here to read the updated post.
I am so pleased! At first I was afraid no-poo would be gross, but my husband and passengers seated next to me on the plane assert that isn't the case. "You don't have a smell," says my friend Nathalie, who thinks my curious non-scent is weirder than water-only washing. I'm only using water on my face, too, which does wonders for horrible, Paris-induced cystic acne and closed comedones (that magically clear up whenever I leave town). Previously, I resembled a beginner's gluten-free pie crust, all flaky and bumpy, like a topographical globe.
My mom says that in Korea, there are generations of women who wash their hair with nothing but plain water. They comb their hair and scalp every day with a special brush, and they don't smell. Their hair looks bouncy and shiny and clean. I think the secret to water-only washing is scalp massage: Scrub the dry scalp as if shampooing, for a minute or more, then spread your fingers at the roots to pull oils, running them along the length of hair. Repeat before brushing, twice daily or more, if you have time for it. I have an adversarial relationship with haircare products, so this feels very gratifying. It's cathartic, pouring a big pot of cold water all over your head and scrubbing away. It's psychologically cleansing.
A few years ago, I could have never imagined a beauty routine consisting of only water, a bar of soap, and a few pats of baking soda for deodorant. Now, I'm satisfied opening the bathroom drawer to see so few grooming tools- a shiny stainless steel razor, pretty wood brush, washcloths purled at home. Right now I'm focusing on beautifying from the inside- not my personality, because that's never going to get better- but eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking two liters of water a day, snacking on legumes, nuts, and good fats, eliminating all animal products except honey, and sprinkling superfoods (chia, goji, acai) liberally, like salt. I wash my face twice a day, splashing with cold water, massaging, then exfoliating gently with a hemp washcloth. And I sip mulberry tea first thing in the morning, which is a very Korean thing, I've heard (my friends call it "highway tea" because I gathered the twigs and leaves from the side of I-90).
I promise, you can go no-shampoo without being disgusting, or turning into some crazy off-grid foraging nature warrior. You can still lead a normal life, even in a cosmopolitan city like Paris- I went to Le Meurice recently for a gluten-free financier, and for the first time in a while, a girl told me she liked my hair. "I only use water," I announced proudly. "Really? I thought that made hair greasy, but yours looks quite dry!" she said, sincerely. Clearly, I have a long way to go. But I think if you build up to water only- trying clay, aloe, rye flour or yogurt first- and regularly brush and massage your scalp, you won't have a nasty detox period and can enjoy the benefits of a cheap, truly chemical-free beauty routine. Don't put anything else in it, except maybe some lemon juice for flyaways and a little oil on the ends. Just protect your pillowcase with a silk scarf or towel at night :)