Here’s a question for the New Year… how can you wash hair with no shampoo? Impossible you say? It’s true, we’ve grown addicted to the process of using gloriously foaming shampoos to achieve ‘squeaky clean’ hair, choosing just the right formula to clean our individual hair type. And we have learned to follow a shampoo with conditioning products which replace moisture, prevent colour fade, compensate for dryness or battle oiliness… in fact there’s something for every situation. We believe that with the right choices, we can achieve healthy, shiny, supple hair for everyone. But wait. What if you don’t need both a shampoo and conditioner to do this?
The time, the expense, the faff quite frankly not to mention the environmental cost of using bottled shampoos and conditioners can be challenged. And what about the experience of using products which actually contribute to problems such as itchy or tight scalp, excess oil, dandruff, dehydration and dull, heavy hair. What then? Actually, this then…
We are hearing lots about a brand which is working hard to convince hairstylists and their clients that they should jump off the merry-go-round of using traditional shampoo and conditioner. This brand argues that such a circular process kicks off with the lure of stripping away dirt from the hair, but also takes the “good stuff”, too. We then go into overdrive trying to add back the moisture and protection the hair needs with conditioner which in turn dirties and weighs down the hair so off we go again with the shampoo-ing. We’re talking about US-based Hairstory, the brand which has invented New Wash – a shampoo-free cleanser to replace detergent with oil-based cleansing.
In short, it is a shampoo and conditioner replacement (not a two-in-one in case you’re thinking retro). Whaaat? Can this really be as good for the hair? You’ll need a new mindset and a few minutes to go with this one, but we think it’s worth your time to hear us out… certainly the social media posted on the subject makes compelling reading:
And recently the hot styling duo The Hair Brothers (@thehairbros) aka Nick Latham and Sean Nother hosted an online tutorial to demonstrate how Hairstory is winning stylist hearts and minds in the UK, too. Jump on here to view 5-minute styles demos from the coolest stylists in town! They caught our attention for sure.
Let’s see what we discovered. Founded six years ago by one of the bods behind Bumble & bumble, New Wash was initially conceived as a solution for scalp psoriasis. Yep, product developer Jackie Bauer suffered with psoriasis and was driving to find a way of cleansing her hair without using shampoo which seemed to aggravate the situation. The result is a cleansing process that avoids detergent.
“The traditional cycle is that a brand sells you shampoo, you overclean and strip the good stuff out of the hair, then you add some moisture with conditioner and dirty it up again with some styling products,” said Hairstory CEO and Chairman Eli Halliwell. “If you get rid of shampoo, you get rid of the whole problem.”
New Wash explained
So, Hairstory got rid of shampoo and came up with New Wash. Traditional shampoo is filled with detergent, parabens and harsh chemicals that strip the hair and scalp of its natural oils which leads to overproduction of oil, a completely stripped scalp and damaged hair. New Wash is a natural hair cleanser filled with essential oils to provide moisture for hydrated, healthy hair that, says Hairstory, never needs conditioner again.
Keeping up? Or is the scepticism creeping in? Hmm….read on, this is where we discover the how come:
New Wash is more gentle than a traditional shampoo, and by using non-toxic ingredients it is detergent-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, silicone-free, human-tested, colour-safe, pH-optimal, and biodegradable. In short, pretty inoffensive, and intentionally sustainable.
Eli puts it neatly: “The product goes in and grabs oil, dirt and build-up. It really cleans, but it doesn’t strip—that’s the magic.”
The science bit
Let’s go in deeper to see exactly what he means. The formula of New Wash has an oil-loving side that wants to stick with the hair’s existing oil. Literally, the oil-based fatty alcohols in New Wash formula take hold of the dirt, oil and build-up on the hair and scalp. But New Wash also has a water-loving side which means that once you’ve coated the hair and scalp, got the New Wash grabbing onto the dirt and oil it finds, you drench the hair in water which rinses both New Wash and all the dirty stuff it’s stuck to. Because the water-loving side of New Wash is weaker than a detergent shampoo’s water-loving side, rinsing removes only the stuff that’s been loosely hanging on the hair, like dirt and build-up. It isn’t going in hard to take the natural barrier oils that make the hair feel soft and healthy and keep the scalp protected and hydrated.
No conditioner is required as New Wash cleanses, conditions, detangles, and repairs without stripping away the natural protective layer on the scalp and hair. And it’s this cleansing without detergent says Hairstory, that means the more you use New Wash the more hair becomes healthier and stronger, with less frequent washings required. This helps colour last longer and allows scalp conditions to improve.
Review the success
Okay so that’s the theory. But how do end-users of New Wash feel? We looked to a bunch of reviews in the USA to find out some truths. We found overall recommends, with messages reminding newcomers to New Wash that it works differently from shampoo – well maybe because it isn’t one! But this is what you need to get to grips with to set expectations. Biggest comment is, you’ll notice New Wash doesn’t foam at all. Like not at all. Remember, if it foams, it’s stripping your oil away, Eli says. “This is the biggest difference for most people, but the reasoning makes sense.”
The reviewers confirm that using the product requires you to forget your habits and gain new ones. To recap
• application is important – you need to cover hair and scalp with New Wash so use what you need to achieve this
• importantly, bubbles have been ‘replaced by friction’ meaning to distribute and activate you rub in New Wash with your hands or use the supplied shower brush, which incidentally is an amazing sensory way to distribute the product and break it up. Remember there won’t be foam
• New Wash is designed to grab onto all things you want to remove – oil, dirt, product. It really is about giving your hair a hug
• you want to use the water as a force to help get the product out – scalp should feel clean but not tight and your hair soft.
It’s worth directing you to a fabulous review in the UK given by India Knight in Sunday Times Style Magazine June 2021. A doyenne of hair and beauty, what India recommends is good enough for even the most discerning beauty junkies so ‘nuff said. see HERE.
Other users report that yes, it takes a little transition time to get used to the new way of cleansing hair. Using it more often will build the habit and get your hair looking good for longer so it’s more time between using New Wash. Look to the film of The Hair Bros for authentic endorsement – these guys talk you through the cleansing and the styling processes. Once you’ve got to grips with the New Wash, look to the Hairstory styling products…
For the stylists and clients that use New Wash, this learning curve is worth it. “Once you get through it, your hair is literally different,” Eli said. “And it’s because you’ve stopped shampooing and let your hair be your hair.”
“When it was time to create Hairstory, I wanted to incorporate as much sustainable energy as we possibly could,” Eli says. “Bottles are the worst culprit.” Think about it—bottles are manufactured overseas and must be shipped empty, then filled somewhere and shipped again. Then the product is used, and the bottles get thrown out – ending up in landfill perhaps.
Now, the brand sells New Wash in pouches, cutting plastic use by 90 percent. Hairstory can ship 10 pouches for every 1 bottle, and the pouches can be shipped empty and flat, lowering the carbon footprint.
New Wash cleanser does come in options of ‘Rich’, ‘Original’ or ‘Deep’, meaning you can select according to factors such as having curly hair, fine hair, dry hair, oily hair, colour-treated hair, or anything in between. Each creamy hair wash is designed to let hair fall the way it’s naturally meant to – with its texture enhanced and shine showing through.
So you got this far… you must be intrigued! To claim your free trial of Hairstory, click HERE
And a. reminder to watch last week’s live demo by London’s hottest stylists, The Hair Bros, click HERE
For more of the latest industry news, click HERE.
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