I typically fly right past most of the ads in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, but recently the Hairstory New Wash shampoo ad caught my eye. This sulfate-free shampoo is supposed to change the way you wash your hair, and with 4/5 stars and more than 5,000 reviews, I thought, why not?
I dropped $40 on a bottle and gave it a try, as part of our Damn You Facebook ads series, in which we buy the products being pushed on us in social media ads, then try them to see if they’re worthwhile.
So, here’s what I thought about Hairstory New Wash.
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CMP is an rstyle affiliate; some purchases may generate a small commission to help support our work at no additional cost to you. As you can tell, this does not impact our reviews in any way.
First, about my hair
First, let me tell you a little bit about my hair and my normal hair routine, so you can get a good basis for comparison to your own hair.
My hair is just below shoulder-length and falls somewhere between wavy and curly, tending toward frizzy. It’s about as natural as it gets — it’s never been dyed and I use very few products on it besides the occasional spritz of hairspray.
Recently I’ve been using either Pantene or TRESemmé shampoo (whichever is on sale), and I’ll use conditioner about once a week. I usually let my hair air dry, and once a week or so I use my straightening iron to get out the frizz.
How to use New Wash shampoo
First, I chose the basic New Wash formula, which has a slightly minty scent that reminds me of the forest — it seems that’s a result of oils like clove, rosewood, and balsam among the fragrances they use — but it doesn’t leave any discernable scent after washing.
New Wash shampoo’s big claim is that they use “essential oils and naturally derived saturated cleansers” to clean your hair. What it doesn’t use is the detergent you’re probably used to. That means it doesn’t lather up like typical shampoos, so that’s a change.
Instead, you coat your hair as you would conditioner, rub your scalp like crazy or use their scalp brush (really a seal brush, shown above) , which comes with their $76 starter kit. Then let it soak, and finish up your shower routine until you’re ready to rinse it out at the end.
The shampoo is thick, so it takes some real rinsing to get it out — the bottle even tells you to use your hands like a squeegee. At that point, your hair should be both cleansed and conditioned all in one, and you’re ready to go.
(If you want to read the full story on how the chemistry works — and I mean, complicated chemical formulas — you can read up on the New Wash formula.)
How my hair looked after one day with Hairstory’s New Wash shampoo
So, my first day after using Hairstory was not a love story.
Right off the bat, my hair felt dirty. It didn’t look greasy, per se, but it felt heavy — like the way mine feels if if I let my hair dry right out of the pool or the ocean without washing it first. It didn’t have the normal volume and bounce I’m used to with freshly washed hair.
That afternoon, when I asked my brutally honest neighbor what she thought (with the full knowledge that I was reviewing the shampoo), she said my hair looked dirty.
Try, trying again
Typically, I would wait 3-4 days before washing my hair again, but because it felt so dirty I went ahead and washed it again the next night (as per Hairstory’s own suggestions) to see if maybe there’s some adjustment period with this new shampoo that I was missing.
I used 5 pumps this time to make sure I really got full coverage, especially beneath my hair at the nape of my neck, and spent a little more time rinsing it out than the first time.
When shampoo has no lather, it definitely takes some time to figure out whether the shampoo has covered your hair in the first place — let alone figuring out whether it’s all been rinsed out afterwards.
Afterwards, I used dry shampoo the next morning when I styled, and used the straightening iron, hoping that would help.
This time, I was happy with the results and didn’t wash it for two more days.
How my hair looked after one week with Hairstory’s New Wash shampoo
Later in the week, it was time for another shampoo. This time, I let my hair go with its natural curl — and once again, it was feeling heavy and dirty again. Sigh.
By the time the week was over, honestly, I couldn’t have been happier to go back and wash it with my old shampoo again.
The verdict on Hairstory New Wash shampoo
If you have a lot of natural curl and like bouncy volume, this is probably not the shampoo for you. Maybe if you have a totally different kind of hair you’d get different results than I did — as you can see from the comments below! — but I was only happy with my hair when I added volumizing dry shampoo and wore a straight style and that’s just too limiting for me.
You also may have more patience than I have to let your hair “adjust.”
For comparison, I also tried out Beautycounter’s Daily Shampoo. a sulfate-free and Paraben-free shampoo that still lathers when you wash. It’s significantly cheaper ($26 per bottle versus $40 for Hairstory) and, despite the name, I only felt the need to wash my hair every 2-3 days with it.
After using Beautycounter’s shampoo, my hair felt cleaner and bouncier than it did with Hairstory.
Even so, neither shampoo provided the smooth finish I get with more traditional shampoos, even if it’s the chemicals that do it. And so I can’t wholeheartedly recommend them, at least if you have hair like mine.
I’m definitely glad I spent $40 — and not $76 — on the entire starter kit.
If you’ve found a fabulous, more natural shampoo that works for hair like mine, I’d love to hear about it — or if you want us to try a product you’re seeing all over your Facebook or Instagram feeds, let us know. We’ll buy it and post our honest review.
Also note that our editor Liz has used the Hairstory Hair Balm for her super thick, curly-frizzy hair in the summer and does recommend it!