Published on January 14, 2019

new wash illo Pin It
Illustration by Aaron Bengochea

There are over 100,000 products available when you search “shampoo{ in Amazon—nearly all of those include a foaming agent that allows it to lather into a rich foam. That detergent, though, as many experts would argue, is the root of a lot of scalp and hair woes. From dandruff to frizz to fading hair color, it turns out shampoos are not always your friend. Thankfully, a whole plethora of detergent-free low- to no-poo shampoos have gloriously emerged from the sudsy competition.

One anti-shampoo, in particular, has got nearly 6,000 people clamoring with shiny-hair joy. Say hello to Hairstory’s New Wash, $40, the shampoo, conditioner, and detangler in one bottle. The minimalist bottle looks shy, but the formula inside packs a punch. It was created by hair industry veteran Jackie Bauer, who formulated New Wash after suffering from extreme scalp psoriasis for years and discovering detergent in her shampoo was the main culprit.

After only a few years on the market, New Wash has gathered a cult following of enthusiasts, who swear it’s changed not only how they wash their hair but their hair in general. One reviewer, Portia L., on Hairstory’s site described herself as a “skeptic turned believer” and that “Hairstory products are honestly the best thing to ever happen to my hair.” She said that pre–New Wash, she would douse her hair in many products to get volume and texture, but by midday, her locks were frizzy and flat. After “no shampoo” though, she said, “I can just let it air-dry, and it’s bouncy, soft, and voluminous. No frizz. What is this, an alternate universe?”

That same level of enthusiasm is found in thousands of reviews for a vast variety of reasons. From dandruff relief (Sarah E. said “The outcome has been soft, frizz-free, flake-free hair, and new hair growth…”) to a savior for curly hair (Erika D. said “this shampoo has changed my life…”) to even dramatic, science-backed proof of longer-lasting color protection for colored hair, the list of benefits are near-endless.

imagePin It
Courtesy of Hairstory

How does a “no shampoo” even work? A traditional shampoo has a basis of detergents that strip hair of oils and debris, but oftentimes they also strip color and can be too harsh on most follicles. Even the International Journal of Toxicology has labeled a handful of standard detergents in cleansers as dangerous in higher concentrations.

“You wouldn’t wash silk or your cashmere with a harsh detergent,” French celebrity colorist Christophe Robin previously told us. “Same goes for your hair. They are fragile and need a gentle shampoo that will gently cleanse all the while nourishing the hair.”

Low- or no-poo shampoos replace foaming agents with naturally derived cleansers and essential oils, which still clean scalps and follicles but without harsh chemicals. New Wash, in particular, is proud of its transparency, listing each and every ingredient. It even lists an advanced chemistry 202–level of molecular structure explanations of the shampoo, with a scientific breakdown of what it does to hair follicles in great detail.

If your interest in “no poo” is piqued, here are a few other options that’ll guarantee a happy scalp and shiny hair.  

DevaCurl No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser, $24

imagePin It
Courtesy of DevaCurl

For all you curly-haired people out there, this beloved, non-lathering formula is packed full of peppermint and grapeseed oil to cleanse while also hydrating and conditioning hair for gorgeous, bouncy, and happy curls.

Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash, $32

imagePin It
Courtesy of Briogeo

For those who need an extra boost of TLC, try this one, which is made for hair that is thicker, textured, or color-treated. This thick formula removes impurities while also nourishing with avocado oil, quinoa extracts, and aloe for healthy, shiny, and moisturized hair.

Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask With Lemon, $49

imagePin It
Courtesy of Christophe Robin

One of Robin’s earliest product launches is still one of his favorites, and mainly because of its democracy: It’s meant for all hair types. This formula gently cleanses, protects hair color and adds shine. It’s a blend of lemon zest extracts, chamomile, and St. John’s wort extract, which work to protect the hair pH and cuticle.