Shampoo Sham?

Supposedly the hair on your head does not require shampoo to stay clean and healthy. I decided to find out for myself. 

After reading articles on the “No Shampoo” movement (also known by the much sillier name “No ‘Poo”), my curiosity was piqued. I’d heard this before, and even tried it back in college for a few weeks (I recall it worked for me). I’ve recently turned into a health nut, and part of that process has been a lot of self-experimentation. Since I was focusing on the stuff I was putting into my body, I thought perhaps I should also focus on what I put on my body.

The basic idea is that your body produces the right natural oils in the right balance to keep a healthy, clean scalp and clean hair, and shampoo strips these away. The scalp then over-produces oils to compensate, and the vicious cycle keeps your a shampoo customer for life.

The first step in all of this is to use a baking soda solution (baking soda dissolved in water) as a cleaner. I figured at the least, if this worked, then I could drop the shampoo and all the unnamable chemicals in it which I was sure were somehow linked to the bottom line of the manufacturer and the desire for repeat customers. The suggested “conditioner” is to use diluted apple cider vinegar. The basic idea is that the weak acid of the vinegar neutralizes  the base chemical nature of the baking soda.

To my surprise, after 2 or 3 days of the baking soda “shampoo”, my hair felt great. After a week it felt even better. It continued to improve over the next month. Now, the recommended procedure was to use the baking soda solution for a few weeks at most, and then just wash the hair with water. I didn’t do this. I washed with baking soda for about 5 months. I thought I was already leaps and bounds ahead, and the water-only thing sounded like it might be gross, annoying and maybe not even work for all that suffering.

Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I stopped washing it with anything besides water. The first week was tough. The oily buildup was not pleasant. It got worse on week two. It stayed this way for the next two weeks. I was beginning to lose faith in the process, but then I noticed the hair wasn’t as oily. I’d gone this far, I might as well see it through as the reports said it can take from 3-8 weeks for the scalp to re-balance the oil levels to normal.

To my amazement, the weekend right before week 5 rolled around, I noticed my hair felt much, much better. And for a while after that my hair gradually felt cleaner and more healthy. But it seemed to plateau after a while. I wasn’t sure if it was actually clean-feeling or just less oily. I noticed my scalp was often itchy as well. So after two months I ended up going back to the baking soda to clean the hair. It felt much, much better and cleaner.

From what I have read, the no-shampoo thing doesn’t work for everyone. I was surprised by how well it did work for me though. And I am totally blown away by the baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner technique, which I am still using to this day four months later. Hair and scalp feel super clean and healthy. I can completely recommend the baking soda and apple cider vinegar for washing your hair. But as far as not washing your hair at all, well I had mixed results and in the end I’m glad I tried it but I’ll be sticking with this minimalist cleaner for sure.

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2 thoughts on “Shampoo Sham?

    1. I’ve not heard of co-washing. In the end as I mentioned, I didn’t find the no shampoo approach to be ideal. But I continue to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to awash and condition. The mixture of the conditioner has very little ACV, and I have never had anyone notice it at all. I can’t notice it myself save for when I actually apply it.

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