Dry hair and Product Madness

If you could cut down all the products you use to just the essentials, what would you have left? Here is an excerpt from a conversation I had with two naturals Fola and Anne. Anne has been natural all her life except for 3 months at age 11 (not her fault she stresses lol). Fola has been natural for nearly 4 years now.

Jc: I am a minimalist. I need coconut oil, conditioner and shampoo in that order.
Fola: I'm still experimenting with my hair. I think I can go without oil but I would need some conditioner and some type of leave in too.
Anne: I need oil and water. My aunt maintained my hair for years as a kid with water and afro sheen (haha - gotta love that afro sheen). I think that curly hair feels dryer not just because of water but also because it lacks oil.
Jc: You actually have a point. People with straight or wavy hair rarely complain about dryness unless they have had some type of chemical process. Also their hair tends to get greasier between washes while curly hair tends to get drier.
Fola: Yes but the point is that our scalps naturally produce oil so all we need to do as people with curly hair is help the oil move along by massaging it upwards. So in reality we don't need more oil.
Jc: You also have a point but I prefer to not have my fingers in my hair for too long. I also don't think it is possible to really copy the flow of oil as would happen with straight hair by just massaging alone.
Anne: I think that natural hair is by nature dry hair. It is normal for the hair to feel and be dry but many people see that as not normal. On the hair forum that I'm on some people mist their hair multiple times a day or use humidifiers at home. Many of them do also talk about oil their hair too but I have always wondered if the dryness is really about just water?
Fola: But in my view if you use a non-drying shampoo or follow a no-poo routine then that is enough to cleanse the scalp and condition hair.
Jc: Hmm? Hmm! Hmm?

My final thoughts.

1. I think the concept of hair being less oily due to being very curly and that contributing to the feeling of dryness is interesting. Is it true? I don't know.
2. I don't know if it is useful or beneficial to eliminate conditioner from a routine and stick to oil and water. I think conditioner serves a role that oil, water and shampoo cannot do. Is it essential? Possibly not because several hundred years back, it didn't exist and people still had hair.
3. I am not convinced that strict no-poo routines work. Has anyone not used shampoo for a year or more? IF you have,please please please let me know - plus I want some hair pictures too please pretty please.

What are your thoughts?

1. Can you eliminate conditioner from your routine?
2. Do you think you can eliminate shampoo from your routine?

I'm also putting up a poll question in a couple of seconds - Is your natural/curly hair dry normally (ie if you didn't apply any product?


  1. I've actually been thinking about eliminating conditioner but I like it as a wash. my main problem is that I keep getting buildup on my scalp but my hair isn't really long enough to avoid getting conditioner on the scalp.
    I think you can maybe eliminate shampoo if you incorporate acv rinses but you need something to clarify and remove buildup.

  2. i can't eliminate shampoo from my routiine as my scalp gets build-up very quickly. i've tried no poo but i don't think that it is for me, mostly due to my itchy scalp which is still a problem :(

  3. I don't think I could eliminate shampoo from my routine because I am fighting a continuous battle with a dry scalp and dandruff. (There are other no-poo anti-dandruff/clarifying methods out there that I'm trying, though.) In light of that, I guess it makes sense that I need heavy creams with lots of oils to keep my hair moisturized. Could I go without conditioner? Probably, since conditioners were made to replace oils as hair softeners anyway (according to Wikipedia ;) ) I think I'll stick to them though - they have added benefits that really help my ridiculously dry hair.

  4. I can't really imagine what we would do without without conditioner. I'm sure we could adjust and find a way to care for our hair, but conditioner is the one product I don't want to ever be without, so I wouldn't want to try. It's an intriguing thought though.

    I think it would be easier to go without shampoo. We rarely use it now. We do like the occasional baking soda wash. Does that count as shampoo?

  5. In regards to no-poo: are we talking about just strictly co-washing? Or using an alternative such as baking soda, castile soap or ACV? (Or would castile soap be considered a low-poo?)

  6. Castile soap or any other type of soap is pretty much the same as shampoo since it can dissolve oil.

    I am consulting my husband the super chemist on whether baking soda or acv counts. He says currently he doesn't know. We are going to do some research on this

  7. i actually havent used shampoo since i Bc-ed...May of 2008...so its almost been 2 YEARS since i washed my hair with shampoo..i LOVE not using it and i feel as though my hair does too.. it has grown alot since i cut it and i can see myself neve using shampoo again..wats the point? :-)

    2ndly, i do NOT think u can eliminate conditioner....deep conditioners are especially important every couple weeks to soften the hair and give it the essential treatment it needs.

  8. I did the whole no poo routine for a year and a half but had to go back to shampoo bars.
    my hair is very dry so i do need some sort of conditioner

  9. I haven't used shampoo in almost 10 years! Once I gave it up most of my hair issues disappeared. I couldn't and wouldn't have hair without my conditioner, water, AND oil. I don't have issues with build up at all. No itchy scalp or dandruff--which I would have quite often when I shampooed. I have no problems cleansing my scalp and untangling my hair isn't a marathon session anymore. I wish I had given shampoo up sooner!
    As for oil, I use coconut oil and olive as part of my pre-poo conditioning and grapeseed oil as part of my post leave in. My hair does well with misting daily with water and a little oil to seal it in. I have a dense past my shoulders natural from this routine!

  10. During my parent's time back home in the country, they used Castor oil, coconut oil and aloe vera. Aloe vera was used to wash the hair, followed by applying Coconut and Castor Oils. That natural original stuff is what some of us search for in hair products today. I think we're going full circle with some of these trends.

  11. Go without conditioner? Can't even imagine. I'm with tgirl - ever since I started co-washing I am dandruff-free and no itch. Everything I use has coconut oil (yes, even the conditioner) and I also swear by olive and castor oils, with amla and vitamin E oils for deep conditioning. Mix with some coconut milk and a little conditioner to emulsify. Been natural almost 18 months and still learning!

  12. I think you can go without conditioner. Water and oils do an excellent job of softening the hair and making it more pliable. I don't use conditioner anymore and it works great for me. I condition my hair with water and either evoo or coconut oil and I still have hair on my head that's healthy and thriving.

    I use non commercial shampoo. I use castile soap to cleanse my hair and it does so without drying my hair out. I luv it.

  13. I only use herbs to wash my hair. I do consider it a 'shampoo' but there is certainly no soap. Also, I've heard of naturals that don't use conditioner. I tried it for a bit last year but think my hair is a little too damaged to try it now. It got 'spongy'. But once my hair is healthier I will try again. I suspect that all my hair missed was the protein, which I should be able to replace. But my hair didn't get dry at all.

  14. Could never do without shampoo. ACV, conditioning twice aka co-washing, pre poo...none of that works for me and left my hair feeling mushy, did not like that so I went back to using okra and coconut oil for conditioning and diluted castille soap for washing as my mom did when I was little.

  15. I have uber long blond hair with highlights. I have been using 1 tablespoon baking soda to "shampoo" and about 1/8-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to "condition" my hair for about a year now. I wash my hair once every 3 days.
    My hair and scalp have been improved by using this method. I also have noticeably reduced split ends. I literally went about 8 months without getting a trim once I started this method because I didn't get any split ends (as opposed to having to go once every 3 months when I used shampoo).
    It used to take me forever to brush out my hair post shower and it frequently felt dry at the ends or greasy at the scalp. When I used actual shampoo....I had to use tons of conditioner to make my hair remotely manageable. My hair used to look really greasy after 1 day. Now I can wear my hair down 2 days in a row without having to worry about it looking gross. I usually wear it up on the 3rd day. I used to use really "good" shampoo and conditioner too....so I save a ton of money just using baking soda and vinegar.
    Anyways..just thought I'd share my experience with it :) It works well for me.

  16. All very interesting! Thanks for contributing.
    How do you wash hair with herbs? What kind of herbs?

  17. From what I understand, the whole issue with dryness in curly hair is that:

    1. Because of the curl pattern, it's difficult for natural oils to make it down the hair shaft and coat the whole strand.

    2. Curly hair tends to be more porous, so it loses moisture easily.

    Without a natural oil layer to protect what moisture the hair has, it can be prone to dryness.

    I do think you can do fine without shampoos and conditioners - when you look at traditional pictures of African women from a hundred years ago - beautiful post by the way! - they have long thick super kinky hair without modern products. I can't imagine they had much more than water clays and oils, and their hair looks better than many women today.

    As for me, I use herbal spritzes, butters and oils to moisturize and condition my hair

    I use sugar scrubs to clear my scalp abt. once a month. I also like clays and herbal/ACV rinses

    My scalp is easily troubled, and commercial shampoos (w/sls or not) just weren't cutting it.

    Thanks for you wonderful post!

  18. hey JC, I was searching the blog to read more about ACV when I came across this post where you asked if anyone has gone a year without shampoo. Well, I have, accept today I went out and brought some Nature's Gate because I plan to go swimming on Monday and you said, lol, shampoo is a must after swimming. I'm still searching to see if I can avoid it, (fingers crossed), I've been using castile soap or ACV for the last year, does that count as the shampoo you were referring to?

  19. mysskay - I would consider castile soap to be shampoo. ACV not really.

  20. Maybe I should clarify that, I would consider castile soap to have a similar washing effect (dissolving oil) as shampoo.

  21. i wish ladies would include their hair type in post (or at least a small description for those who dont beleive in hair typing), it would turn this information into actual tips!!! :)

  22. I'm a 4a/4b and I could eliminate shampoo. I use an ACV rinse as needed. I'm a minimalist also. I don't like having to many products, just the right ones. Just last night I left my conditioner in overnight under a plastic cap and scarf. This morning I rinsed my conditioner out dried my hair a bit a put in a moisturizer and went about my day. I like that kind of routine.


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