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Thirty-Two Reasons to Never Shampoo Your Hair Again


Image Credit:  Olga CollierMany of us spent our youth either trying to coerce our ringlets into straight locks or torching our straight hair with curling devices, only to discover later in life that we love our hair. I didn’t make friends with my own curls until my thirties. Finally, I appreciated my hair and wanted to treat it with kindness.

After a bit of research, I stumbled on the “no-poo” method of hair care. Yes, it’s a ridiculous name, but it simply refers to a hair care system that involves no shampoo—i.e., no ‘poo.

Shortly after adopting the no-poo approach, my hair was soft and more full of life than ever. But then one day I got lazy. Shampooing is quick, and it involves bubbles, and I like bubbles. When my hair squeaked again for the first time in months, I tried to ignore the fact that “squeaky clean” hair equals stripped hair. I fell off the no-poo wagon . . . until a few months ago, when my hair started falling out. The culprit might have been thyroid issues or the weather or even age, but no matter the cause, I wanted it to stop. Now. So I went back to the no-poo method, and lo and behold, my hair stopped falling out. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’m not taking any chances ever again.

Lorraine Massey and Deborah Chiel, authors of Curly Girl, suggest that dumping shampoo onto one’s hair is much like washing a cashmere sweater in chemicals. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a bottle of shampoo? Most of us would flail our arms and yell if someone dumped even a smidgen of harsh detergent on our most delicate sweater. And yet, day after day, we put chemicals in our hair and then wonder why it’s lackluster. Or falling out. Or frizzy and lifeless.

Here is the ingredients list from a popular, mid-priced shampoo:

Water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, glycol distearate, dimethicone, cocamidopropyl betain, cetyl alchohol, betaine, cocamide mea, fragrance, glyceryl oleate, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, benzyl alcohol, caramel, disodium edta, malic acid, laureth 4, laureth 23, sodium chloride, glycine, sodium xylenesulfonate, sodium hydroxide, methylchloroisothiazolinone, theobroma cacao seed butter, sweet almond oil, pearl powder, methylisothiazolinone, lecithin, alcohol, tocopheryl acetate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl palmitate.

Granted, there might be a couple of respectable ingredients in there, e.g. almond oil, but they’re accompanied by more than thirty other ingredients, many of which sound like prehistoric animals and one of which is 27 letters long. I’m especially alarmed by the fact that the word “alcohol” is listed three times. The conditioner half of this name-brand pair has a slightly shorter ingredients list, but three of them, once again, involve alcohol.

Are you ready to climb onto the no-poo wagon? If so, good for you!—but be warned: when you tell people you don’t shampoo your hair, what they hear is that you don’t wash your hair. They’ll look at you and wonder if you’ve taken a shower in the last month. Here’s what you must remember: there is more than one way to wash your hair, and bubbles are not mandatory. We all like bubbles because they’re fun and they make us feel like we’re doing a bang-up job of washing something: clothes, dishes, hair. Sadly, however, most bubbles are produced by chemicals. But there are ways to get something spotlessly clean without bubbles. Here’s one good recipe for clean hair:

  1. 1 T. baking soda and enough water to make a paste
  2. Scrub scalp with the concoction, rinse with water, and then mix the following in a squirt bottle and rinse again:
  3. ½ T. apple cider vinegar and ½ C. warm water

Leave the vinegar mixture on your hair for a few minutes, and rinse again.

Take a look at the apple cider vinegar ingredients list: apple cider vinegar and water. Baking soda ingredients list: sodium bicarbonate. Two products, three ingredients—and one of them is water.

Some people choose to use a natural, silicone-free conditioner to scrub and rinse their hair; others use conditioner mixed with brown sugar, which cleanses the scalp and rinses clean. Those who feel they can’t avoid shampoo altogether often discover they can use far less, and only on the scalp, not on the hair. Some use grape seed oil instead of conditioner. You’ve got to find what works for you. Invest the time to experiment, and give your hair a couple of weeks to “detox.” I like the brown sugar method, but I’m not crazy about grape seed oil, though it’s wonderful to cook with.

Women choose the no-poo method more often than men, and those with curls outnumber those with straight hair, but it works for anyone. This online fan reflects the sentiment of lots of us who have tossed our shampoo bottles into the recycling bin: “I’ve gone 8 years without shampooing my hair. . . . It does take a while for the process to take hold, but once it does you’ll love your hair and never look back.”

About Victoria York


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