Minimalist Hair – the Extreme Version

I’ve been experimenting with minimalist hair care for quite some time. There are a number of no poo-inspired methods for those bent that way. I’ve tried olive soap and vinegar rinse, which is fine. I’ve  tried using no poo-conditioners instead of shampoo, which is also fine. Rhassoul clay was okay, but a bit too messy. The same goes for henna treatments: lovely results, but too time consuming and too much of a fuss.

My admittedly high demands are: no chemicals that dry out scalp and hair (such as sulphate, silicone or the like, which you’ll find in most conventional hair products), no expensive hippy-merchandise, nothing too fussy, and – above all – it has to make my hair look splendid most of the time, without much effort and practically for free.

I may have found just the thing. In no poo-circles, it goes by the name “water-only method”. On a side note, isn’t the tendency to invent new terminology a bit annoying? Sure, I could say “I use the ‘water-only’ method”, but I might just as well say “I wash my hair with nothing but water.” Now, before you merrily hum along, there is (unfortunately) more to it. If you just rinse your hair with water, chances are it’ll look like shit after a while.

Here’s what to do: allow your hair to get really, really greasy. That process took me well over two weeks, since I’ve been doing no poo for a while, thus enjoying very non-greasy hair. If you’re using shampoo, it may take considerably less time for your hair to really fatten up. Then massage the entire scalp vigorously with your fingertips, in order to warm it and loosen the sebum. This, true believers call “scritching”. See if you can go on to pinch at your roots and pull the grease out evenly throughout the lengths. This step is recommended, but almost impossible for me personally, since I have too thick and long a mane. It’s called “preening”, by the way – speaking of new terminology, making simple things sound very complex.

Once you’ve scritched and preened your hair – or, if you will, once you’ve massaged your scalp and, if possible, distributed the sebum – you’ll have to brush it with a boar bristle brush. This is really the only thing that’ll cost you any money, if you don’t have one already. Mine was about 15 euros.  And yes, it is vital that it is a proper boar bristle brush, since the boar bristle will absorb and distribute hair sebum. Make sure to get one that isn’t mixed with synthetic fiber of any kind – just wood and boar bristle. If you take care of it, it’ll last forever. Taking care of it entails removing all strands of hair and putting it in a bowl of hot water (and, according to some, honey, but I can’t be bothered) for twenty minutes and then letting it dry overnight once in a while. It’ll ruin if you wash it with soap and it’ll get nasty if not washed at all.

The final step is to rinse your hair with quite warm water, all the while massaging the scalp. And that’s it. Now, this process, what with the scritching and preening and rinsing, may take a while, depending on how thick of a mane you’ve got, but needn’t be repeated very often. After going to the gym, I just rinse my hair. I also just quickly brush it, if need be, between washes. I think the results are amazing. Just don’t expect your hair to behave exactly the same way as when using conventional shampoo. The very point is for it to keep some of its natural sebum, which then gives it fantastic volume and nourishment. My hair feels and looks as if I’ve used a really expensive styling product, when, in fact, I’ve done the opposite. You’re adding nothing and taking nothing away, except from excess sebum and dirt. It’s almost like your hair is meant to just sit on your head and will behave perfectly if not manipulated, right?

Obvious, minimalist advantages to this method is that (once you have a brush) it’s free, you don’t need to ever buy or refill soap, shampoo or conditioner, you need no styling products, there will be no bottles or jars sitting in your shower or bathroom cupboard (making it easier to keep clean and lessening your storage needs), you needn’t pack hair products while travelling, get them through security or find them on once arrived. And, which is decidedly the greatest advantage, your hair will be truly healthy and look its very finest.

On Helsinki Airport, trying to take a picture of my hair – which is surprisingly hard. 

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