Friday, April 16, 2010

Going No-Poo

A couple of days ago I ran out of shampoo. “No big deal,” I thought, “I’ll pick some up on my way home today.” A few days later, I was still out of shampoo; “Whatever, I’ll just use my bar soap and pick some up tomorrow.” A while later, my shampoo supply was still nil… You get the idea. I usually can go up to three days without washing my hair with a minimal itchy factor (in fact, when I was still playing waterpolo, I refused to wash my hair on days I didn’t have practice). But since I’ve been using only bar soap, my scalp is itching and flaking worthy of a noreaster. Not only that but my hair (My hair! My beautiful hair. My one beauty!) is greasy and rough to the touch. And it smells. Like dry, hot scalp. But of course, being my lazy self, I still haven’t bothered to pick up shampoo, so my hair looks like this.

Scratching my head, and not in a pensive way, I remembered an article I had read a while ago on a crafting blog about going “no poo”, or no shampoo. She talked about her first weeks not using shampoo as some of her most horrible hair days. She voiced all the complaints I was whining to Pete about. So I spent some time reading blogs of some women who have cut shampoo out of their shower routine.

I have found… Shampoo is not necessary!! (Yay! I don’t have to go to the store to buy more!) In fact, shampoo, in its modern form, wasn’t invented till the 1930’s. Before that, shampoo was a boiled mixture of soap shavings and herbs to give hair shine and fragrance, but even that was only introduced in the second half of the 1800’s! Now shampoo is a cocktail of synthetic surfactants, which is are types of detergents. Look surfactants up on Wikipedia and you can find a list of its applications and sources. Here’s an abbreviated list.

Fabric Softeners
Ski Wax

Oh! and included somewhere in the middle of that list are Shampoos, Conditioners, Toothpastes, and Cosmetics. The FDA doesn’t regulate the ingredients put into personal care products; it only mandates that the ingredients be listed on the back of the bottle. One ingredient, for example, is methylisothiazolinone, which has been linked to nerve cell death. AND methylisohhmmmaannahh is banned in Japan and Canada in certain concentrations. Another commonly used ingredient is Isopropyl, a drying and irritating solvent. It strips hair of its natural moisture and can accelerate the penetration of bacteria and viruses (this elicited a loud 'ewwweehhhh' followed by some shudders).

The real kicker is… wait for it… wait for it… washing away the moisture in your hair CREATES the need for conditioner. Conditioner doesn’t do much but replace your now stripped natural oils with fake oils. Only then does your hair look nice and shiny. Shiny for a few hours before the fake oils turn into artificial grease! And what is needed to get rid of it? More shampoo! Followed by a generous application of conditioner, followed by grease and round and round we go.  OUTRAGE!! I am in an outrage.  I always thought we needed shampoo to clean out hair, and clean hair was naturally tangly and knotty.  Conditioner was heaven on earth for me, my absolute favorite thing on earth.  Silly, pointless, self-promting cycle.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two other stars in your shampoo line-up. Regularly used in cleaners and degreasers, they appear in most personal care products that foam.

While SLS and SLES are great for pots and pans, I think I’ll pass on using industrial strength degreasing agents on my locks.

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