A friend found out I shampoo my hair every day. And we continued on with our day because it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. The End.
Far from it! They looked at me as if they just found out I secretly hated the Beatles and gummy bears.
Call me naive, I had always thought shampooing one’s hair every day was on par with brushing your teeth every day. Not to mention, when I shampoo my hair, it feels and looks amazing. When I don’t it’s flat and greasy. Straightforward, no?
Oh boy, was I in for an ear full. The short version being that apparently the detergent in the shampoo strips my hair of its natural oils. So, by shampooing every day, I’m causing it to over produce oils. And that were I to shampoo less or not at all, supposedly it would reach a balance and be luscious of its own accord. Even better, this movement is called ‘no-poo’ which my inner 5-year-old finds hilarious for some unknown reason!
Now, on the surface, this all certainly sounds like it makes sense. But the beauty industry is paved with believable anecdotes that are factually wrong. For starters, your skin(including your scalp) can’t sense how much oil is on it. That’s not how oil production works [Dear future Jacob, write a detailed article illustrating how Sebum production works right here]. But I figured maybe something else was at play here.
So I decided to explore this ‘with an entirely anecdotal experiment of my own’. By attempting to not wash my hair for a week.
Day One: The Calm!
I used Dove Fortifying Shampoo. Nothing special, just a normal SLS shampoo. Side note here: SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is simply a detergent, meaning it allows oils to mix with water. It’s proven non-carcinogenic. Yet still I see a lot of products brand themselves as SLS-Free. It’s even more contradictory, cause they’ll then advertise that they use all natural ingredients like Coconut Oil or Palm Oil. Which I find hilarious, because SLS is derived from… you guessed it… Coconut and Palm Oil. This really deserves a full write up with drawings or maybe a video and a whiteboard.
Day Two: And So It Begins!
It’s already noticeably greasier around my roots. With my scalp feeling a little dry. Not much more to report.
Day Three: Not the Worst.
Starting to feel a little ‘unclean’ by this point, but it still looks okay. Almost could pass as if I had used pomade. Though my hair isn’t showing any signs of coming to a balance on the oil production front. It’s incrementally greasier than the day before.
Day Four: Watergate
The torture!! I have actually had to begin combing my hair just to bring some kind of volume to it. It’s almost impossible to enjoy a shower or a bath when you’re trying not to get your hair wet. I’ve begun to suspect that this entire ‘no-poo’ trend is a vast conspiracy to sell fancy shower caps, cause I may have ordered a duck shaped one.
Day Five: Call OPEC
In which our protagonist has become Smeagol. It’s sooo far gone. I’m just thankful it’s a Saturday and I have no
friends meetings. Cause my goodness is it bad. These photos don’t do it justice. It’s even started to cause my skin to breakout and I haven’t had a pimple in years(humblebrag?). Been told you can use dry shampoo(aka backpackers shampoo) to absorb some of the oils which would make my hair a tad less greasy. I’m opting to continue ‘Au natural’ for the sake of the experiment.
Day Six: Pre-Shower
Not sure what I was expecting after yesterday. But it wasn’t this…. Woke up and my hair was less greasy and dried out a bit even. Look in the mirror and it’s even gained some volume. It felt as if I had used a lot of hair wax. Was this because my hair’s oil production had reached an equilibrium? Is this what natural hair looks like?….Alas No, This I suspected was a much more dreaded outcome.
Threw myself in the shower before any dreads could take root.
Day Six: Post-Shower: Feeling Like a Human Again
I can get behind the sentiment of the “No-Poo” trend, wanting to work with your bodies natural processes rather than trying to beat them into submission with chemicals. But it misses the mark just a tad. Your skin doesn’t produce oil because it can tell oil has been stripped away by shampoo. It releases oil as part of the inflammatory response in order to protect the skin. And one of the more traumatizing things we do to our skin is to wash it.
It’s a small but important difference.
In practice, it means no amount of “no-poo”ing will cause your hair (or skin) to not be oily. And as long as you’re being gentle while washing, your hair will be okay with daily shampoos. Now, if you do find your hair is being dried out or damaged with daily washing. You can try only using an SLS shampoo(which are really good at cleaning) once a week and more “organic” glucoside and glycerin containing ones the rest of the week. Or even cutting back to shampooing every other day, and using dry shampoo on your off days. Don’t be afraid to experiment yourself and find what works for you! 😀