Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Quit Shampooing My Hair

It's true. I have not used shampoo on my hair for about 5 weeks. I have joined the no 'poo movement, shampoo free, in order to protect and improve my health, save the earth, and have really great hair.

Honestly, when I first heard about the no 'poo movement (shampoo free), I was horrified (which might by your reaction right now). I don't believe that going green means forgoing personal hygiene and turning into a smelly, greasy, hippie. Besides, I can't toss personal hygiene. I'm an attorney; I need to be presentable. Normally, I haven't been able to go more then two days without shampooing before my hair turned into a greasy mess. I try to work out 5 days a week, so I thought it was necessary to shampoo my hair after every workout.

But, I was intrigued by the idea of reducing the amount of shampoo I was using. So, I started to experiment. First, I tried rinsing my hair instead of shampooing and found that my hair was just as clean and grease free as when I shampoo. I started going three or four days without shampooing my hair with good results.

I then decided to see if I could go an entire week without shampooing. On day 4, my hair started to feel a little greasy. So, I tried a baking soda rinse. It left my hair clean, greasy free, and very, very soft. So, when Sunday came around again, I used baking soda instead of shampoo. I have not gone back to shampoo since.

My hair is dry, dry, dry, natural curl which is disastrous without conditioner. So, I still condition my hair; but I am looking for natural alternatives. Many people who go no 'poo also use an apple cider vinegar rinse to condition hair after the baking soda rinse. I haven't tried this method yet, but plan to sometime soon.

Why Would Anyone Want to Ditch Shampoo:

In addition to being one less thing to buy and fewer plastic bottles, shampoo really isn't that good for you or for your hair. Shampooing strips the natural oils from your hair leaving it dry which you then need conditioner to replace. However, when the oil is stripped from your hair, your body over produces oil to compensate which makes your hair oily and you shampoo again. Thus, your shampoo is causing your dirty, greasy, hair.

On a far scarier note, most shampoos contain ingredients that believed to be endocrine disruptors, cause cancer, and a variety of other health problems. Since I already have endometriosis (believed to be caused by endocrine disruptors) and fibromyalgia ( of which endometriosis is a precursor and may be caused by environmental toxins and causes a hypersensitivity to chemicals), reducing my exposure to these harmful chemicals sounds like a good idea. Here are some common ingredients found in shampoo and their health and environmental effects:

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate - (used to make shampoo foamy) not only is this ingredient linked to cancer and organ system toxicity, but it is bioaccumulative, does not break down normally in your system and can remain for decades after exposure. This ingredient is also linked to wildlife toxicity including fish.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - (cleansing agent and used to make shampoo foamy) - linked to cancer; developmental and reproductive toxicity causing things like infertility, reproductive cancers, birth defects, developmental delays; organ system toxicity; neurotoxicity; endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes.

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate - (cleansing agent and foaming) - linked to organ system toxicity

Cocamidopropyl Betaine - (hair conditioning agent) - linked to allergies and immunotoxicity and ecotoxicity

Methoxydibenzoylmethane - (sunscreen agent) - linked to cancer, allergies and immunotoxicity.

Superoxide Dismutase - (skin conditioning agent) - linked to cancer

Methylparaben - (fragrance ingredient, preservative) - linked to cancer; allergies and immunotoxicity; organ system toxicity; biochemical or cellular level changes; neurotoxicity; endocrine disruption.

Fragrance - many artifical fragrances contain phthalates which are linked to cancer; developmental and reproductive toxicity including cancer of reproductive organs, infertility, birth defects, and developmental delays; allergies and immunotoxicity; organ system toxicity; biochemical and cellular level changes, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, persistence and bioaccumulation. In this category are chemicals including: Dibutyl Phthalate, Diethyl Phthalate, Cetyl Triethylammonium copolyol Phthalate, Benzoate/Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate Butyl Benzyl Phthalate Copolymer, Diethylhexyl Phthalate, and many others. Look for Phthalate as part of the name in the ingredient list.

Check out the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database to find out what is in your shampoo and other personal care and beauty products.

What I lost in the process:

1. Bad hair days. I haven't had one since I quit using shampoo. Instead, my hair is softer, smoother, and has more body. I have also found that I need to use less styling products to style my hair.
2. Dry, itchy scalp.

Shampoo Free Might Not be For Everyone:

In researching internet posts, I found that people tend to have mixed results. It appears that people with dry hair and natural curl have the best results with going shampoo free. People with straight, normal hair have a harder time with no 'poo. My sister has also tried baking soda rinses and found that they left her hair dry and wiry. So, for those of you who have poor results with no 'poo, natural shampoos may be the answer.

My sister's friend, Crystal Ross, gave me this recipe for all natural, chemical free, shampoo.

Natural Shampoo

4 oz of castile soap with any scent is that available – plain, peppermint, eucalyptus.
½ oz of rosemary - stimulates the hair follicles and helps to prevent premature baldness
½ oz of
sage – has antioxidants and keeps things from spoiling and is antibacterial
½ oz of nettles – acts as a blood purifier, blood stimulator, contains a large source of nutrients for hair growth

½ of lavender – controls the production of sebaceous gland oil and reduces itchy and flaky scalp conditions
2000 mg of MSM (Organic Sulpher) – provides organic sulfur to your scalp, which improves the health and strength of your hair. It also helps to drive herbal nutrient into the skin and follicles where they can do the most good.
One empty 8 oz plastic bottle, or any other empty shampoo or soap bottle.

Mix the herbs in a mason jar, which has a lid. Boil 2 cups of distilled water. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of the mixed herbs into the boiling water. Pull the boiling water and herbs off the stove. Let the herb mixture sit for 30 – 40 minutes. Put the 2000mg of MSM into the herb mixture after 30 minutes of cooling. After 40 minutes and the MSM is melted, strain the herbal mixture into a bowl.

Pour 2 to 2 1/2 oz of strained herbal tea into the 8 oz plastic bottle. Now, pour the 4 oz ofcastile soap into the 8 oz plastic bottle. Cap the bottle and shake to mix the ingredients.

The shampoo is now finished and ready for use. Use this as a base for all of the shampoos you make. You can add different herbs as you learn what these herbs do and how they help your hair. You can vary the ingredients according to your taste

Or, make your own organic hair care products.


  1. I totally knew that your "soft, soft, soft" link would be a kitty!

    It also says on the baking soda box to mix it in with your shampoo. That may be a way to start training your hair to respond to baking soda while finishing off your bottle of shampoo instead of just throwing it away.

  2. I have very fine, thin hair that gets greasy and limp very very easily. And so, though I hate it, I do shampoo every day :( I am finding it very difficult to get out of this vicious cycle of shampoo-greasy hair-more shampoo-more greasy hair..
    I really want to reduce my shampooing to bare minimum. That's why your post was so inspiring :)I have a few questions though...

    1. Ever since you quit shampoo and before you tried the baking soda method, you mentioned you were on a daily plain water scalp massage. Did you follow that with a conditioner as well?
    2. Now that you have started using the baking soda wash every 4th day, do you still do the plain water scalp massage on day 1,2&3 ?
    3. Did you have a transition period of looking like a greasy-monkey before your hair started looking gorgeous :) ?

    Thanks in advance :)

  3. Thanks for reading Aruna. To answer your questions: I do rinse and massage my scalp every time I shower; which is at least every other day. Since I quit shampooing my hair, it has gotten less and less oily, so, now I use the baking soda about once per week. Every other time I shower, I do use the scalp massage method. If find that when I don't, my hair starts to feel dirty and my scalp gets smelly. I did follow up the scalp massage with conditioner every day. Since then, I have started using a vinegar rinse on my hair. I use about 10 parts water to one part apple cider vinegar. I apply it to my hair just before I get out of the shower and I don't rinse. I have found that when I use the apple cider vinegar, I don't need conditioner. In fact, my hair feels conditioned. It has also gotten shinier and less dry and frizzy. Because of that, I have also been able to ditch all of the styling products that I have been using. I love it! My hair is easier to do and looks better. Until I tried this experiment, I didn't realize how much damage I was doing to my hair (much less my health and the environment) and how many other products I was using to try to repair the damage.

    I did not have a transition period where I looked greasy. I think rinsing my hair with the scalp massage took care of that problem. If anything, I had a period where my hair seemed dryer then usual. That seems to be gone now.

    In reading about other people's experiences with going no 'poo, it seems the exact method to use is very individual and takes some experimentation to figure out what will work for you. Good Luck!

  4. Thank you so much :) Your post and comments have been very helpful. I'll let you know how it goes for me :)