All the Cool New Ways to Wash Your Hair: A Guide

"Lather, rinse, repeat" isn't the only technique.

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(Image credit: Getty)

In the shower, most of us do some version of the following:

Wet your hair

Smush some shampoo around your scalp


Stand still for much longer than necessary because it's warm and feels nice

Apply conditioner

Putz around while it absorbs

Continue not moving except for an occasional lazy, rotisserie-chicken-like turn when your back gets too cold

Hair-washing is one of the last things you should be overthinking, so this is simply an introduction to the new, different, and possibly better ways you could be doing it. Because that's what beauty's all about, isn't it? Caring about stuff you've never cared about before Experimenting with alternative techniques that might sound weird but sticking with it anyway because it might just end up changing your life.

Also known colloquially as, ugh, "no-poo" or "poo-free." Now a full-fledged movement against the sebum-stripping qualities of commercial cleaning agents, AKA the stuff that makes bubbles, NP is based on the philosophy of "suffer for a few weeks, emerge a stronger person with shinier hair." There are three recommended methods:


Rub your scalp as you would normally but without any products.

Baking soda

Dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda in one cup of water. Stir until dissolved and pour on head (but not into eyes). Rub into scalp and rinse.

Apple cider vinegar as conditioner

Follow all steps for baking soda. Dilute vinegar with water and use as rinse. Rinse with water.

It's similar to no-shampoo in its emphasis on sebum preservation, except you're allowed a cleansing conditioner. Directions: Separate hair into four equal sections. Take a few pumps of a product like Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner (opens in new tab) and rub into your scalp, section by section. Massage entire scalp, then rinse. Repeat every three to five days for coarse or curly hair and try alternating with regular, old-fashioned shampoos for fine hair.

This one's for curly girls who need extra moisture, definition, and/or softness. In the shower, take argan, olive, castor, jojoba, or any other oil your hair responds well to (opens in new tab), and distribute evenly. Leave on while you shave/ponder the meaning of life. Turn the water temperature down, and rinse until you've removed 90 percent of the oil. (You want to leave a fine layer.)

Oh, look! It's another traditional (opens in new tab) practice (opens in new tab) we've only now caught on to. This one involves shikakai, a fun-to-say powder made from a climbing shrub native to Asia. In India, women massage their scalps with oil, allowing it to soak in for anywhere from an hour to a day. Shikakai is then made into a paste with water and worked into the hair to clean off the oil. Bonus: The bark contains high levels of saponins, which are natural foaming agents. Frothy!

Dream. Come. True. (Too bad it doesn't seem to be available outside nursing homes and hospitals.)

You should also check out:

I Haven't Shampooed My Hair in 6 Years (opens in new tab)

The Schedule Every Girl With Good Hair Follows (opens in new tab)

60 Epic Tips, Tricks, and Secrets for the Best Hair of Your Life (opens in new tab)

Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.