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Monday, October 06, 2008

No Shampoo

I haven't shampooed my hair in weeks.

Yes, really.

I might never shampoo my hair again.

Before you run away screaming "granola," you might find this surprising: I personally think my hair looks and feels better now than it did a month ago.

Let me explain. A few weeks ago I came across this post from babyslime (who covers the topic very thoroughly) about washing hair with baking soda and water rather than with shampoo. Shampoos are harsh detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils, and they contain nasty ingredients that I just don't want to have in contact with my body, like sodium lauryl sulfate, an oil-stripping detergent used in floor cleaners, engine de-greasers, and car washes. It's very harsh and often causes skin and eye irritation. Sounds a little extreme for use on the human body, doesn't it? I'm not claiming that a daily shampoo is going to kill you, but it's not good for you, either - no matter what the bath and body companies would like you to think.

An article on Natural News cites research claiming that a common ingredient in many shampoos has been linked to nerve damage:

"Just take a look at the toxic chemicals found in personal care products used by virtually all Americans every single day. Americans bathe themselves in toxic chemicals and they do it by buying and using products made by brand name companies that have premier shelf positioning at convenience stores, grocery stores and discount clubs."

Sodium lauryl sulfate is used in shampoos for its foaming quality, and if you need lather in your hair in order to feel like you're really cleaning it, then washing with baking soda probably won't be your cup of tea. At the very least, it might take some getting used to. But you might just find that you love it.

As I mentioned before, I think my hair feels and looks better now than it did a month ago. For one thing - on an unrelated note - I got bangs, which I think turned out cute. But I digress. My hair feels fuller now as opposed to the limpness I was accustomed to having by the end of each day. I used to wake up to greasy hair every morning; now I can even skip a day of washing. (Ideally I'd like to get to where I only need to wash every two or three days, but for now I wash every day or two.)

If you don't care about harsh cleaners or toxic chemicals, how about this: going shampoo-free can save you money. I bought an enormous box of baking soda for under $2, and it'll last me for months. I use a ratio of 1 T baking soda to 1 cup warm water for each wash. I usually use 2/2, because my hair is below my shoulders. Sometimes I pour it over my hair, work it in with my fingers, comb it through, and then rinse, and other times I make a paste instead of adding the full amount of water, scrub the paste into my scalp with dry hair, then hop in the shower and rinse it out. For $1.49 I bought a huge bottle of apple cider vinegar, which I use for rinses to clarify and detangle once every week or two. And since I only use about a teaspoon or two per rinse (combined with a cup or two of water), that bottle will last me for months, too.

Incidentally, around the same time I stopped using shampoo and conditioner, I also stopped using any specially formulated face washes. If I need to, I just rub a little regular Ivory soap on my fingertips and then onto my nose or chin. I found that both the face wash in my medicine cabinet and the one in my shower (one of which was the brand "Aveeno Active Naturals") contained sodium lauryl sulfate as well as a frighteningly long list of other multi-syllabic ingredients (I found a good explanation of skin-care ingredients here). My skin isn't really acne-prone, but it does usually change with my hormone cycle. I've now gone through three weeks without even the teeniest of pimples or blemishes. And not using face wash means my skin doesn't dry out, which means I can get rid of my chemical-laden moisturizer, too! Also, since some fragrances (such as those in shampoos, conditioners, and face washes) seem to give me headaches, I'm excited about having a way to nix artificial fragrance-laden substances from my lifestyle.

For more hair natural "recipes," check out motowngirl's Homemade Hair Recipes.

Okay, now you can run away screaming "granola" if you still want to. Or you can go buy some baking soda!


  1. My sister just is going through esthetician school right now (facials and skin-care), and one of the very first things they did was teach them what all those big words on the back of the shampoo and face-soap bottles mean.

    Did you know that almost EVERY drug store brand of face soap uses wax and HORSE URINE to get it to stick to your face and lather up? Yuck!

    After she told me that I went out and bought Dr. Wexler products, which are made by a dermatologist and don't have any of that yucky crap in them. I used them before I got married but had a hard time justifying the cost afterward. Unlike you (lucky) I have skin which requires much maintenance.

    I don't think you're a granola, I think you're on to something!

  2. GRANOLA!!!!!! (*runs away screaming*)

    I still think it sounds weird. :)

    And I hate Ivory soap. Hate it. Have hated it all my life. It makes your hands feel sticky even after it washes off. I don't know how you can stand to put it on your face.

    I think I'll stick with Pantene for now - it fixed all the problems I had in high school with my hair, and thus deserves some loyalty, don't you think? ;)

  3. Oh, and the blog I told you about is

  4. I am off to start washing my hair with baking soda! Can't wait! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Becca, I know most shampoos, skin creams, deodorants, facial washes, etc. contain "urea" or "uric acid," but I thought that in modern products it was usually synthetic, rather than actually processed from animal urine. If it's real urine, that's really vile. Although I have actually heard of extremely crunchy people putting fresh urine on pimples to clear up their skin - disgusting.

  6. Emily, Pantene deserves no loyalty, in my humble opinion. I've heard lots of people say it thinned their hair, and caused a waxy build-up. It's full of yucky chemicals. And I don't find Ivory soap to be sticky, but then, I barely dab my fingers on the bar - I'm not rubbing it all over myself, or even lathering it between my hands.

    I'm just finding myself thinking lately that it's weird to put stuff on our skin that warns "Avoid contact with eyes/nose/throat/bloodstream! If ingested, contact a poison control center immediately! DEATH!!" etc. Yet we douse ourselves in it. Gross.