How One Non-Shampoo Hair Cleanser Salvaged My Damaged Hair

Rachel Krause

hairstory new wash How One Non Shampoo Hair Cleanser Salvaged My Damaged HairI’ve embraced processed, color-treated hair since I was 10, when my mom inexplicably permitted me to get chunky platinum highlights in my very dark hair. From then on I was hooked, and I’ve spent the past decade (plus a few years) putting my hair through hell. I’m growing it out now, but prior to the past 10 months or so, I hadn’t seen my natural color in years.

Needless to say, my hair has seen some shit. It’s fallen out in clumps from being so damaged from bleach, knotted irreparably in the back from lack of brushing (I thought I was doing a good thing!), and, at a particularly low point, literally snapped off in my hand. I tried every shampoo and conditioner combo trying to resuscitate my sad, sad hair, and then I tried Hairstory New Wash ($40) and all was right with the world.

My hopes for New Wash weren’t especially high, considering I’d already tried countless “cleansing conditioners” and felt mostly meh about them. After just a few weeks, my scalp would start crying out for a legit lather, and my roots got greasy after, like, twelve hours. But New Wash is somehow different: There are no detergents or soaps, so it doesn’t foam, and it’s actually a surprisingly simple (and smart) formula made with a base of aloe supplemented by fatty acids, emulsifying conditioning ingredients, and tons of essential oils. It smells faintly of pleasant, naturey, not-at-all-overpowering things like rose, lavender, and a little bit of tingly peppermint.

As someone who formerly used an intensive deep-conditioning masque every time I washed my hair, I’m extremely skeptical of anything that claims it can replace conditioner. But I’ve been using New Wash for months and have noticed zero adverse effects—my problematic hair feels both clean and well-moisturized, without a lather and without an additional conditioner. Once it dries, either naturally or with the assistance of a blow-dryer, it has body, movement, and shine, something I used to use five volumizing products and two serums to re-create.

If you have hair on the longer side, you’ll be using a lot of New Wash—mine’s about shoulder length, and I use three or four pumps, because you really want to saturate your hair and scalp with the thick, creamy cleanser. I massage it all over my head, do my other shower business, and then add water, massage it through one more time, and then rinse thoroughly. My hair feels silky, but not so soft I can’t style it, the way most conditioners make it feel. It brings out my natural wave and texture, which is pretty impressive considering I have fine hair that’s easily weighed down.

I’ve used nothing but New Wash in my hair for quite some time, and I have no plans to switch to anything else any time soon. I’ve loved other shampoos and conditioners in the past, but not like this. It’s so effective and so easy to use, and I swear it even takes about 10 minutes out of my shower time. Finally, a product that makes my hair look great and cuts my time spent in the shower from 45 minutes to 35.