Yes it’s product review time!!
(Note: I have not been paid for this review nor has the product been gifted to me in exchange for a review.)
One of the more unpleasant and less Instagram-friendly aspects of chronic illness is the inability to deal with one’s own personal hygiene. I’ve talked about this before (see: A Tale of Two Indignities), but not about the practical alternatives when you can’t bathe or shower for several days. Baby wipes and sink washes deal with the body, but I’ve always found spray can dry shampoo to last a few hours only, and leave a tell tale white residue on my already-grey-streaked hair. So, on a recommendation from a friend, I decided to investigate Nilaqua “waterless” shampoo.
It sat under my sink for a few weeks until the opportunity arose not in the form of a free afternoon with enough spoons for experimenting, but a genuine “my hair needs to look less gross” emergency – my birthday lunch with my mum and her partner. So with less than two hours until our mercifully-local meal, I draped my towel around my shoulders like Batman in a very cheap beauty salon and pulled the bottle out.
The first step was to cover my hair in it, naturally. It’s quite strange how we’re conditioned to expect shampoos and shower gels to foam up when we rub them in, but they don’t have to do this to be effective – there is no bubble/cleaning power ratio. I did feel like I was using quite a lot of the product, but it covered my hair evenly and didn’t drip. After this the instructions were to massage the product into my scalp to soak up all the excess oils. And then the towelling began.
To be fair to Nilaqua, it literally says “towel-off shampoo” on the bottle, but this is the part of the process that I felt was distinctly chronic fatigue unfriendly. As a rule, once I’ve washed my hair it goes up into a microfibre turban to dry naturally (a wavy/lazy version of the curly girl method), and hair dryers make me ache too much. So, does it turn out, semi-vigorously towelling my hair for 20+ minutes. Still, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. So I towelled, and panicked about the clock ticking down, and towelled some more and felt like I wasn’t getting all of the product out properly due to rapid energy loss. A few more concerted bursts of towelling, then I dropped the towel, thankful that I’d had a haircut 6 weeks beforehand, and hoped for the best.
After towelling, I got dressed and ran a bristle brush through my hair. What was my first impression? Big. There was almost certainly some of the stuff left in my hair and it was having quite an 80s power hair effect. Still, my hair did look clean. It certainly smelled better, and my scalp didn’t have that horrible gritty feel it tends to get after too long without a wash.
After styling with a little spray wax it looked more like I usually wear it. Lunch was successful, and my mum had no idea I’d gone for 6 days without a proper wash. Look society, I’m tricking you!!
I would have given it a 3/5 at this point. Easy to apply, no mess, but difficult to remove without knackering myself out (within the context that this is a review for disability assistance products), to the point where I couldn’t remove it all myself.
But then my hair and scalp still looked and felt clean and lovely at bedtime:
In fact, two days later it still felt like I’d just washed my hair.
With that impressive longevity in mind, I boosted the overall score to 4/5. It only lost marks because of the energy it took to towel it off. Of course if someone else had been around to help me with that it might have been a different story, but if that had been the case I wouldn’t have had to use a “waterless shampoo”! This will in all likelihood remain under the sink for those occasions when my fatigue levels and events calendar clash, unless there is someone else around to wield the towel!
You can buy Nilaqua towel-off shampoo from Boots or Amazon, and they also do a version in “shower cap” form as well as a waterless body wash.