Can you imagine swearing off shampoos for the rest of your life? Well, it might sound crazy to some of you (especially for us living in sunny, humid Singapore) but some people have actually chosen to jump onboard the ‘no-poo’ bandwagon and throw out shampoos from their daily shower regime! The argument is that shampoos contain harmful chemicals that messes up the pH levels of your scalp, causing an overproduction of natural oils resulting in greasy hair. By swearing off shampoos entirely, your scalp is able to rebalance and regain the “natural” levels of oil production for healthy looking hair. I have friends who absolutely cannot afford to not shampoo their hair daily considering the humid weather here, yet I also have friends who shampoo only thrice a week as their thick curly hair takes at least 3 hours to dry each time.
You might be surprised to know that shampooing is in fact, a very modern activity, emerging as late as the 1930s in the US. Then, women only shampooed once a week at a salon. From the way I see it, the recent emergence of the no-poo movement seems to be a cultural stance against the dogmatism of the beauty industry, which propagates the notion of the need to wash hair daily in order to sell more products. (Just look at the number of permutations of hair products available) Nevertheless, to-poo or no-poo is a first-world problem that requires us to make better informed decisions. Here are 5 basic things to know before you decide to go no-poo.
- To each her own
Understanding your own scalp and hair is the first step to great hair. There are 2 questions you should consider before embarking on this movement. 1. How oily is your scalp? 2. What is the texture of your hair? The more sebum your scalp produces on a regular basis, the more regular your washing should be, as washing less doesn’t mean that your scalp produces less oil. Secondly, straighter, thinner hair tends to have oil build up more quickly than thicker, curlier hair. For damaged hair, not shampooing so regularly may help to compensate the dryness as natural oils softens and moisturizes the hair.
- Say NO to these
For those who are unable to entirely cut back on the shampoo, you can start by using gentler formulas. Before purchasing your shampoo, you might want to check for these ingredients to avoid: Sulfates, parabens, silicone, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol. These ingredients may cause allergies, brittle hair, scalp irritation and hair loss. As a rule of thumb, if you see any of these ingredients appearing at the top of the list, put the shampoo away immediately because they are likely to be the main ingredient of the shampoo.
- Focus on the root of the problem
As much as shampoos are marketed for your hair, they are supposed to be for your scalp. Your daily washing ritual should start by applying shampoo to your roots and then rinsing it off, followed by conditioning the ends of your hair. Shampooing is more than just the product, it is also the act of massaging the healthy minerals into your scalp and ensuring that excess oil is stripped off properly. (try these great sulfate-free shampoos: L’Oreal EverStrong Sulfate-Free Fortify System or Living Proof Perfect Hair Day)
- Eat your way to great hair
Hair is also affected by genetics, hormones and diet. Cutting back on shampoo should also be complemented by a healthy lifestyle regime. On your way to great hair, you should also exercise regularly and eat foods rich in protein, iron, Vitamin C and E, biotin and omega-3 fatty acids which will help in hair growth and resilience.
- Get creative with alternatives
In the interim before your next wash, try dry shampoos (try: Klorane, Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk or Percy and Reed: Dry Instant Volumising Spray) to help maintain voluminous and light-textured hair. They help to absorb oils temporarily however, they will not suffice in removing dirt. Another popular substitution for shampoos in the no-poo movement is apple cider vinegar which helps to restore shine and moisture, although (warning) it may leave your hair smelling like vinegar.
Whether you decide to go no-poo or otherwise, it’s always good to do your homework and find out what’s best for your scalp. Start customizing your own shampoo regime and experiment with what works for you!
Have a regime that works for you? Do share it with us below!