There is a growing number of people ditching shampoos, conditioners and any hair products in favour of going au naturel. Before we go further into this, you should know there is a difference between going no shampoo and no washing. The former won’t kill you and probably do you a whole lot of good. The latter will just leave you smelling funny and with no friends.

Why ditch shampoo? If you were asked to rub sodium lauryl sulfate onto your hair you’d politely decline. Same with propylene glycol (antifreeze), dimethicone or formaldehyde or any number of chemicals contained within shampoos that usually come with big toxic warning labels on their containers. Yet when they all get mixed together and tossed into a fancy looking bottle with a sweet smell and a brand name, we all seem to assume that there is nothing but lathery goodness inside. In a way, it’s nuts that we rub all this stuff onto our heads and leave it to soak its way in through our scalp with its toxic load. Nearly as bad as the way we spray aluminum directly onto the lymph nodes in our armpits.

Aside from the chemicals, shampoos have recently come under the spotlight for leaving hair worse over the longer term than if you’d never used them. Darker hair, weak, brittle and itchy scalps can all be assigned to shampoos. Shampoo strips your scalp of the natural oils it produces, meaning your scalp starts compensating and producing more oil leaving you using more and more shampoo.

When your scalp finally gives in and becomes overwhelmed by the weight of toxic chemicals being lathered on it, it gets itchy, flakey, your hair seems brittle and lifeless. The trick then for companies is to convince people to move to another brand until that starts destroying your hair as well. Bit of a revolving door situation.

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We couldn't find a royalty free image of hair so we're using this nifty painting from Godward. See - she didn't have toxic shampoos and her hair is just fine. Point proven.
We couldn’t find a royalty free image of hair so we’re using this nifty painting from Godward. See – she didn’t have toxic shampoos and her hair is just fine. Point proven.

So if your not using shampoo what are you using?

You could stick your hair in a bowl of cold water and hope that works. While it may remove some of the daily grime, warm to hot water will remove even more. See, in a way, washing your hair is a bit like doing the dishes (stick with me here). If you are cooking and eating food with lots of artificial ingredients in them, you’ll notice warm water doesn’t really wash off the chemical sludge that’s left on the plate. Hence the need for another chemical (washing up liquid) to remove that.

But if you cook with wholesome, real food, you’ll find hot water removes nearly everything (Seriously, try this!) from the plates and pots. Natural seems to clean natural best where as chemical is needed to clean chemical.

Your hair is the same. If you are slapping gel derived from an oil well in the Middle East onto your hair, warm water is going to have a job in removing the sludge. But if you leave your hair alone, a hot water wash does wonders.

Homemade soap using only natural ingredients is a safer bet. There is also the option of using some baking soda followed with cider vinegar.

There will be an initial period where your hair drives you nuts. That in-between-time when you’ve stopped using shampoo yet the shampoo is still irritating your scalp. This is because there are traces of gels/hairsprays/hairdye/wax still coating your hair and you have it give it time for the chemicals to wash away. Give it two weeks and you’ll start noticing the difference and within five weeks you won’t look back. Your hair will be easier to wash, easier to maintain and easier to style. It’ll go lighter in color over time. It will do everything your hair was designed to do, including effortlessly flicking it over your shoulder without the toxic spray flying off in everybody’s face.

There is no one method to follow when using ‘no shampoo’. Some will wash their hair daily, others once a week. As your hair returns to its natural form, you will know yourself what suits your routine and hair needs best. Given the benefits of removing chemicals from your scalp and hair, the no shampoo movement is definitely something worth trying and something that is surprisingly easy to carry on with after the initial two week period.