Do We Really Need Shampoo?

My No Shampoo Experiment.

As I write this, it’s been 7 weeks since my hair touched shampoo. Or product of any kind. This from a woman who had shampooed her hair daily, yes daily, since her teens.  (Err hm. I’m way past my teens now.)

Yep, I’ve joined that out-there bunch, the No Pooers. In case you’re not familiar with the term, No Poo means no shampoo.

Even more out-there is that I didn’t have any ambition or resolution, or even any thoughts of going No Poo. The whole thing came about quickly, in the space of about a week, as a natural progression from looking for toxin-free body care for our family, now that our pantry blitz is underway and under control. I already used certified organic shampoo, since regular shampoo is full of toxins. But I planned to get down to the nitty-gritty of what was in my organic shampoo, how I should be using it, and what were the best and most ethical choices that wouldn’t break my already long-suffering budget.

Questions to Ask About Shampoo.

The more I looked into finding the gentlest organic shampoos and conditioners to buy or make for my family, the more I got to thinking about hair history. Yep! My brain does the most boring things, and when it came to hair, these questions popped into my head:

  • For how long have humans shampooed their hair? For sure, we’ve always washed our hair, in rivers and rain, and with mud, soap, and plant matter. But, for how long have we washed and rinsed with ingredients—even organic ones, that sound like science equations? Because honestly, even on the most beautiful, certified organic, ethically sourced and packaged hair products, there are ingredients I don’t recognise, that I am sure don’t grow on trees. Or even if they do, they area unrecognisable from their original plant form. To my novice eyes, anyway. The ingredients of even certified organic shampoo are a mystery to most of us, who can’t decipher code. (Not all. Yes, I’m generalising.) I want to be more intentional than that. I want to know what goes into my body, and onto my hair and skin, without needing a science degree. All of these rambling thoughts led to my next question:
  • Does my hair really need shampoo to be healthy and clean? Or is shampooing my hair yet another unnecessary product of my conditioning? Oh, the puns! Of course, I’m talking about social conditioning. There is so much in our lives that we do because, well, it’s what we do—because we’re conditioned from birth to do certain things, and that includes shampooing our hair.

The answers are:

  • humans have used shampoo for a relatively very short period of their history, and
  • no, you don’t need shampoo for your hair to be healthy and clean.

Even so, evolution’s a thing, right? You don’t want to be a smelly cave-person if there are better ways of doing things. Shampoo must have been invented for a reason, no? Why become a crazy No Pooer, when there are beautiful, gentle, organic hair products you can use?

You Could Use Organic Shampoo.

You don’t have to go shampoo-free to have a toxin-free hair regime.

The truth is that I felt compelled to experiment. I’m a woman on a mission, after all. I want to be free of toxins, but also free of doing things mindlessly, without first checking that they are actually helpful, natural, or needed.

My plan had been to eliminate toxins from my family’s shampoo, not to eliminate shampoo altogether. I hadn’t planned on my children joining me for the experiment, either. But they’ve witnessed first-hand the freeing nature of letting go of things you don’t need: like formal schooling, and finding out what’s possible; what the human body can do, and how we actually thrive as humans. They want to be involved in finding answers to life’s questions, including the question about shampoo. So, for the past month, they’ve joined me in my No Poo quest.

Once I caught the No Poo bug (oh, no pun intended), shampoo was only working its way back into my life and routine if it proved itself absolutely necessary. To my surprise, my children felt the same way. It’s liberating to let your body look after itself, the way nature intended. So, instead of going organic, or shampooing less frequently, I simply stopped using shampoo.

Nil.

Kaput.

Gone. For the past seven weeks, so far.

Here are some of the reasons behind my decision (whim?). Ha! No, decision:

4 Reasons to Try No Shampoo.

1. Shampoo Strips Hair.

Shampoo strips hair of its natural oils. To compensate, the scalp produces more than it usually would. I hadn’t realised how damaged my hair was until I stopped shampooing and heat-drying it. Within a week, my hair felt softer. Seven weeks in and the strands are stronger, my scalp is itch free and my hair feels, well, human again. Natural.

Not one to do things by halves, I’ve thrown my products and hairdryer away, with no plans of replacing them. But you could go No Poo temporarily, every now and then, to give your hair some ‘me’ time.

2. Shampooing is Unnecessary.

I have fine hair. My daughter has thick hair, and before going No Poo, she only washed it once or twice a week. Her thick hair holds up better than my fine hair in terms of oiliness, but that was true when we used shampoo too. The morning after washing my hair, it would always be oily. Yep, in just one sleep! Which is why I washed it daily. I was shocked to find that two weeks into going shampoo-free, my hair was less oily than it usually would have been on the second day after washing. And it felt clean. Honestly, my hair felt so great for the first four weeks without shampoo that I wondered whether I was doing No Poo wrong!

The fifth week though, was awful. Oily. Itchy. Awful. I gave my hair a water only wash in the shower: I hadn’t washed it at all until that time. Problem solved. So, here I am, seven weeks into being shampoo-free, with happy hair that is cleaner and healthier than it was before. As for whether I’ll need a shampoo in the future? I really don’t think so.

I’ve heard rumours that your hair falls out if you stop using shampoo. So far, this has been entirely not true for me. There are no signs of my hair shedding any more than usual. At all. Even with rigorous daily brushing with a boar-bristle brush, to keep it clean.

So far, the findings of my No Poo experiment are that shampoo was a hazard for my hair, not a help.

3. It’s Expensive.

One question that I don’t want to ask myself about shampoo is how much I’ve spent on it to date. Multiply that by the amount I’ve spent on shampoo during fourteen years of being a mum, and you have a number I don’t want to think about.

Shampooing less frequently would lessen the expense, but with a few natural alternatives on hand, I firmly believe that shampoo is an expense people don’t need to have. The amount of dollars we spend on caring for this part of our body that is perfectly capable of caring for itself, is a scam.

4. It’s Time-Consuming.

Shampoo, condition, dry, style… all before the day starts? Come on! I can’t believe how much time I’ve dedicated to keeping my hair clean. My mornings now consist of coffee and fresh air. Yes, going No Poo is a breath of fresh air.

What to Do Instead of Shampoo.

First, you need to sit in a field with healing herbs like lavender scattered through your strands. Joking! Although, it might be a fragrantly lovely way to spend an hour.

Brush

The first thing that I did when I went shampoo-free was to buy a 100% boar-bristle brush. Before that, I’d typically used a wide tooth comb. Giving your dry hair a good but gentle brush massages the scalp, and carries your hair’s natural oils through your strands, to the ends. It makes your hair shiny, and prevents build up. Basically, a daily brush is as good as a wash.

Henna

Here, the vain woman in me is excited. I haven’t coloured my hair for four years, in my bid to live naturally, and be toxin-free. Henna though, is a natural conditioner that works well with a No Poo lifestyle. AND, it colours! Last week, I put natural henna ( the real, messy stuff) through my hair. I didn’t wash before, and I washed the henna out with water only. There is no henna on my pillow slip, couch cover, or anywhere else that my head rests. I can’t smell the henna any more either, the water rinsed it out well. After not colouring for four years, my hair and I feel FINE and posh right now!

Water

Many No Pooers use baking soda to wash their locks, and apple cider vinegar to condition. Or so I believe. I haven’t learned enough about natural shampoo alternatives yet, so I’ve just used water. Our family are in the process of moving off-grid, where we’ll have rain water. At the moment though, we’re still in the suburbs with mains water, which is full of chemicals.

When I washed my hair in water only, I used warm water from the kettle, mixed with filtered water from our Berkey. There’s not much point keeping chemical-induced shampoo out of your hair, only to douse it in chemical-ridden tap water. But, perhaps that’s just me and my OCD.

If you want to learn more about shampoo alternatives, Lucy AitkenRead has an ebook that you might love. I’ve bought it. My hair and I are doing okay, so I haven’t read it yet. I have read the introduction though. And it’s awesome.

Wow, can I talk about hair! Needless to say, so far I’m a No Poo convert, and I’ll be continuing with my shampoo-free lifestyle, indefinitely.

 

To Be Continued

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