Saturday, December 3, 2011

No Shampoo

As we enter December, it reminded me that last year at this exact time I tried the 'No Shampoo' thing.  If you're not familiar with the idea, it's simple - give up shampoo and conditioner.  Just rinse your hair with the water in the shower.  What could be easier right? 

There are several reasons to consider making this change:
  • The first is that we don't want to be putting icky chemicals onto our scalp and hair.  And if you've ever looked at the ingredient list on most shampoos and conditioners - icky would be putting it mildly.  
  • The overall  health of your hair.  Having the natural oils from your scalp lube your hair is the way it has been for all of mankind previous to shampoo or soap.  Constantly stripping out these oils and 'replacing' them with waxy paraben substances really can't be that good. 
  • Cost.  Potentially you could save a boat load by ditching hair care products all together.
  • Time savings.   Think how much shorter your shower would be if you didn't use shampoo followed by conditioner.  Now add up that time savings for 365 showers a year.  Substantial.
Being a regular peruser of the Paleosphere I had encountered this idea before and had even read up on several people's personal experiments.  Naturally, some people did great with it and others ...  not so much.  But most importantly, all came away with a new experience.  I decided I would finally give it a try myself and at least stick with it a couple of months.

The fist two weeks were the 'messiest', and from my reading, I knew they would be.  Your hair and scalp are used to having their oils stripped out everyday.  When you instantly stop the stripping, you're left with an overproduction for a short period.  So greasy it was.  It didn't bother me too much.  Yeah, I looked more like a greaseball, no other way to put it, but I pushed on.  For the first month I didn't use anything in the shower for my hair except water.  And I gave up soap by the way too.  I only used it to wash my bottom.  Basically I was just rinsing my whole body with water and then drying off.  In and out.

After one month's time I came to two conclusions.  First, not using shampoo left my hair greasier than before.  No big surprise here.  The initial greasefest of the first two weeks tapered off, but it was still greasier than normal.  Second, there was actually a benefit to having a bit of extra oil in my hair - it was easier to manage.  In the winter I have to wear a hat on my commute to work (it can be a wee bit cold up here) and it usually leaves my hair messed up by the time I get there.  Well, with some natural oil on it, I could manage my hair better after taking off my hat.

Now, easier to manage notwithstanding, I personally don't think my hair looks better when it's greasier.  That's just me.  So, following some of the tips I had previously read, I started to use a rinse with baking soda added to some water.  This effectively removes some of the oil from your hair.  I only used it maybe 5 or 6 times for the next two months, but I could tell a difference after I did.  As in my hair looked better.  Nevertheless, I continued until the end of February whereupon I began using shampoo again.  I actually don't use conditioner ... never have.  I'm very glad I gave this experiment a try, but in the end, this wasn't something for me to implement into my lifestyle long term  (although I did ditch the soap permanently).

Shower Filter
Conclusions.  If my hair had looked really fabulous, I probably would have continued with the no shampoo thing for good.  It was really easy and saved a little time.  The reality is, I have some vanity.  You wouldn't think so by the very simple and not so stylish way I dress myself, but I learned that, indeed, I prefer my hair to be clean looking.  I say this first because it may bias my next line of reasoning ... which is, I don't think that using shampoo to clean your hair actually leaves you very vulnerable to all of the nasty chemicals in the bottle.  You put it in your hair, mix it about, and then rinse it off fairly quickly.  There really is no 'soaking in' time involved.  Conditioner may be different, I'm not familiar with that.  But even if conditioner, or say some gel, was left in your hair ... it's your hair by golly.  I don't think it soaks back into your skin from there.  I could be wrong about that, but it doesn't seem likely.  We're not talking about stuff like lotions and sunscreens that you slather on your naked skin and leave there all day.  Now that stuff I don't do unless I have to.  Anyway, when I'm in the shower, much more of a concern of mine is having my body exposed to the chlorine in the water ... especially from a nice hot shower.  That's why having a chlorine filter for my shower water is more important to me than if I use shampoo or not.  I know everybody has different results and thoughts on this subject, but those are mine and I'm sticking to them.  


Linda said...

When I found out that you had stopped using soap during your showers I will say that I had some concerns about possible BO. On my next visit to you, it was good to discover that there was no change - you still smell good!

Aaron said...

Thanks Mom. I've no doubt you would've told me if I was smelly. I forgot to mention in the post that I do use a paraben-free deodorant after I shower.

Jesse said...

Hey there Aaron,
I've actually been soap and shampoo free for ~9 months now and haven't looked back! Now, granted, I buzz my hair at the shortest setting(think almost bic-slick, but not quite), but even that short I've noticed that I don't get hat/helmet hair nearly as readily, and I don't need to wash every day anymore. As for the soap and BO, not only was the transition easy, I just sprinkle baking soda in the pits every 3-4 days and haven't had any issues at all, including after bike commuting.

By the way, I just found your blog from a comment on CriticalMAS, who I know from a Paleo book club here in Seattle...small world and all that!

Aaron said...

Hi Jesse.

Paleo book club huh? Well I'll be. Maybe this thing is getting a little traction.