Revisiting Shampoo   2 comments

I think I may officially make the switch to being shampoo free (if you don’t mind, I don’t particularly like the term “no ‘poo” so I’m not going to use it). After the From A No ‘Poo Inspiration post, I did stop shampooing my hair. It has now been two weeks shampoo free and I have to say I am impressed. I thought I would have to rinse my hair more often than before (2-3 times a week), and that has not been the case. In fact, my hair does seem to be less greasy. The techniques that I tried included baking soda/apple cider vinegar rinses, and conditioner rinse. I want to do more research so that I understand what baking soda really does, because I don’t really understand it right now. That discussion will be for a future post.

Even if you would never consider going shampoo free, there are cleansing techniques that can improve the health of your hair. If I may say, I have very healthy hair, so I hope I can pass on tips that work. Currently, I get compliments on my hair every time I go into a salon, and I have been able to grow my hair long enough to reach my butt. The last time I tried to grow my hair long (high school) I could never grow it longer than mid-back. I attribute this difference to the change in how I care for my hair.

The basic issue with over-shampooing is that hair needs sebum and shampoo strips sebum away. Sebum is the oily/waxy substance that our skin creates to keep skin and hair from becoming dry (intimately home-made lotion, if you will). The theory behind no-shampoo or reduced shampooing schedules is that when you use a harsh detergent to remove the sebum, the sebaceous glands go into overdrive creating more sebum to replace what was lost. So the more you wash, the more oil your skin creates.

Here are some basic techniques that, through personal experience, I know work to keep hair healthy.

  • Shampoo your scalp, not your hair. The hair shaft has no way to moisturize itself since the sebaceous glands are in the skin, not the hair shaft. So clean your hair by brushing it really well with a boar bristle or similar brush, rinsing it in water, or rinsing with conditioner; save the shampoo for your scalp. As you rinse, the shampoo runs down the entire hair shaft anyway.
  • Don’t shampoo every day. In college I switched to every other day and never had any problems with greasy hair. Eventually I got lazy and that became every three days. Then I couldn’t keep track of the days and it became just when my scalp needed it. Also, I know that I’m not the only person who prefers the way my hair looks and feels on the second or third day. Sebum doesn’t just moisturize hair, but it also gives it volume.
  • Rinse your hair in water only. Some days all you need is to stand in the shower, with the shower water beating down on your head, finger massaging and/or combing your hair and scalp. When your hair dries it feels light and clean.
  • Clean your hair using conditioner. Sounds weird, right? But it is the same theory as any cream cleanser (like cold cream). The oils in conditioner act as a solvent to rinse away excess sebum while not stripping it away. I find it works best to rub some conditioner in my hair dry and then rinse it out. I think that when you wet your hair first, the layer of water interferes with the conditioner and doesn’t let it work as effectively as a solvent. (FYI, I found out about this technique in a hair salon.)

Not only can reducing your shampoo use improve your hair health, but it is also an environmental decision, and possibly a financial decision.

  • Less time spent washing hair means less water and energy (to heat the water, and to pump/treat the water to potable standards) that you use, possibly also reducing your utility bills.
  • Less shampoo used means less resource use creating the shampoo and the bottle and then transporting it (what you hold in your hand is only the tip of the iceberg, there’s also the water/energy/materials used all along the manufacturing route)
  • Less shampoo used means fewer bottles of shampoo that you have to buy each year.
  • Less time spent washing your hair also means more time to do whatever else you want.

Posted April 23, 2010 by mayakey in personal care

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2 responses to “Revisiting Shampoo

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  1. Hey! This was a really good one! Vinegar is great for everything I’m finding. It’s the wonder … liquid.

  2. Pingback: A Weird New Goal of Zero Bottles in the Shower | Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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