I was born in the 70s, when daily shampooing was already well established as the the norm. I never thought about it, I just did it. It was like putting on new clean clothes every day, or brushing my teeth. It was part of my daily routine (or every-other daily), done automatically without question. Did you wash your hair? Did you brush your teeth? Did you wash your face and behind your ears? Yup, yup, yup and yup. Well, mostly yup. There was a time in elementary school where I’d spend more time trying to figure out sneaky ways to make it look, and more importantly smell, like I had done these things, than it would have taken to do them in the first place, but that’s neither hair nor there. I am a person who has always questioned everything. But I never once thought to question these daily rituals, so engrained in my everyday life.
Thankfully, for a good long while, greater thinkers than I have been doing just that. Why should I use shampoo? What exactly is Shampoo made of? If I won’t eat things I can’t pronounce, why would I rub them in my scalp (you know that thing that covers my BRAIN)? Who really benefits? You mean the shampoo industry doesn’t have MY best interest in mind? Huh.
I researched those questions and came to this conclusion: I will never get to use the old “I gotta wash my hair” excuse again, which kind of sucks because I’m forever looking for good reasons to use it.
According to Wikipedia’s explanation of the “No Poo Movement,” daily use of shampoo depletes hair of sebum, natural oils produced by the scalp. The Sebaceous glands then work overtime to replace what has been stripped. In addition, many people need to condition their hair after shampooing to keep it from being dry and brittle, which is by the way, exactly what the natural oils, just stripped out by shampoo, are designed to do. So the process goes something like this: Strip the hair of natural oils by rubbing often toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into the scalp, replace natural oils with synthetic, laboratory-created conditioner, and add the buildup created by the sebaceous glands over production. Wash, rinse and repeat. I am the only one? Or does this sound completely insane to anyone else?
So I stopped shampooing. 15 days ago in fact.
Don’t judge me, monkeys.
I’m going to admit it hasn’t always been pretty, but things have gotten better. I went from shampooing every other day, to three times a week, to not at all. The oils have built up, but it hasn’t been hard for me to keep pressing on when I remember that my scalp is just detoxifying. For 35 years I’ve been trying to convince my scalp that I know what it needs better than, well, God. And if it takes a few weeks, or months, or even years to get it back to its natural state, it will be worth it, because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, y’all. And I’m done throwing 30 bucks a bottle to billion dollar companies that spend millions of dollars buying Farrah Fawcett and Christie Brinkley to convince me that slathering toxins on my head is going to make me beautiful or at the very least, healthy. HA!
If you’re thinking about trying this out, just do it! I encourage you to commit at least one month to using absolutely no shampoo. Here are a few ways to gently ease into being shampoo free. If you shampoo every day, start out by just skipping one shampoo a week, for a few weeks. Use conditioner if you need to, but maybe try rubbing a tiny amount of raw coconut oil into the ends of your hair instead, if it feels super dry. And by tiny I mean TINY. Cut down to Shampooing every other day. Then try twice a week for a few weeks. Beware; your glands are going to be a bit behind your brain on this. Your natural oils are going to be producing as if you are still washing your hair as you normally would and it will get greasy. You may just plan to have a hat or scarf day, or wear a pony tail or bun, as your head starts to adjust to the new arrangement. Or skip all that mess and just go cold turkey.
On your fist few weeks – few months without shampoo you can cut through the grease by using a solution of 1 tsp-1TBS of baking soda mixed with 1-2 cups of hot water. Experiment with the amounts, if your hair still feels oily use more baking soda, if it feels dry, use less. Squirt the mixture directly onto your hair and rub in, focusing on the scalp, exactly as you would with shampoo. The mixture will not strip out your natural oils, but will help remove the excess. Don’t let it sit too long as it can be quite drying. Always follow the baking soda wash with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Use 1-3 TBS of apple cider vinegar to one to cups water, again experimenting with the amounts if your hair feels to dry or oily. Rinse well, unless you particularly enjoy smelling like a freshly colored Easter egg.
An alternative to baking soda is 1-2 freshly squeezed lemons and an alternative to the vinegar is a peeled cucumber juiced or blended. I tried this one time during my first week, but I really hated the smell of the cucumber and couldn’t seem to rinse it out completely. The baking soda/vinegar is working well for me, so I’m sticking to that.
My first week shampoo free, I used baking soda/vinegar three times and lemon/cucumber once. Week two, I used baking soda/vinegar Sunday and Wednesday and that’s what I’m sticking to until my head stops over-producing oils. At that point I will cut back to once a week, then once a month if possible.
I’ll leave you with some pictures my husband took last night of my hair on day 14 right after I cleaned my hair with the baking soda wash and vinegar rinse, followed by a blow dry. It seemed to be a turning point day. My hair was soft, smooth and light. We tried to capture the scalp so you can see that it is not plastered to my head with grease. I’m really looking forward to what happens over the next few months. And I’ll keep you posted.
PS – the one thing I am having trouble with is STATIC. Anyone have any solutions? Leave a comment and let me know!