If you read anything even remotely connected to style, fashion or celebs you, no doubt, have noticed more than a few stories about the “no poo movement.” You’ve probably even nodded your head as you read why Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Adele and Johnny Depp are taking extreme steps to remove needless exposure to harsh chemicals in their lives. But before you toss all your haircare products and start skipping washes all together, let’s consider a few things first.
What is the No Poo Movement all about?
What exactly does the “no poo” trend involve? As the name implies, it’s the practice of not washing your hair with shampoo on a daily basis. Most of the celebrities who follow this personal hygiene practice claim to suds up once or twice a week. Some people do it to reduce or eliminate unhealthy chemicals from their lives. Others find their hair is easier to style with less use of shampoo. Both dry shampoos and cleansing conditioners are often used to either replace traditional shampoo altogether or to extend time between washes. And many simply just use water rinses in between full washes.
The no poo idea is simple: break the dependency cycle caused by using oil-stripping shampoos. If you wash away the natural oils from your hair and scalp on a daily basis, the sebaceous oil glands only produce more sebum to compensate. If you wash less, you produce less oil over time - and thereby save your hair from damage and limit exposure to the chemicals in standard hair products. So when you first start to skip the shampoo, your system needs to adjust - there’s a period of greasiness while your biome rebalances. If you can wait out this period, you’ll find that the sebum production slows and your hair eventually becomes shinier, less frizzy and healthier - theoretically.
The problem is most of these results seem to be anecdotal. The outcome of going “no poo” can vary greatly depending on how dry or oily your scalp is, how coarse or fine your hair is and whether you have any existing skin conditions or allergies.
Skipping washes doesn’t necessarily mean that your hair care routines are simplified. To really get the most benefit out of this more natural approach, you’re going to have to trade washes for brushing your hair. It’s important to continue to remove dirt, dead skin and other contaminates from your hair and scalp that you normally do when you shampoo. Also, to really see the shine benefits, sebum needs to be worked all along the hair shaft and not allowed to concentrate at the scalp. That’s where a habit of brushing with a soft bristle brush comes in. Brushing instead of shampooing loosens oil and dirt buildup and distributes naturally produced oils and proteins all along your hair.
Healthy Beauty Benefits
Certainly there are some health and beauty benefits to shampooing less frequently, especially if you are using standard hair care products containing sulfates, silicones and parabens. By cutting back on how often you wash, you reduce the frequency of stripping away important natural oils and proteins from your hair and scalp. You can also reduce how much damage chemicals like sulfates inflict on your hair. Slowly, over time, you are likely to see improvements in the health of your hair and scalp, especially if you have dry or coarse hair.
If you have ever been in a major city like New York for any period of time, you understand that there is dirty and then there is DIRTY. In New York it’s not just dirt, dust and general grime everywhere you go, but there’s constant construction debris, vehicle exhaust and tons of pollutants just waiting to coat your hair, skin, clothes… everything. Unless you live on an organic farm, you’re probably not going to be able to avoid most of the contaminates in our environment. You are going to have to wash. Waiting days or weeks to remove dead skin, dirt and contaminates from your scalp is going to do more harm than grabbing the nearest bottle of shampoo and lathering up. Going dirty will lead to breakouts, inflammation, irritation and possibly infections on the scalp.
The no poo method also takes a long time, months in some cases, to bring about any real healthy beauty results. Simply stopping or reducing the use of standard shampoos, conditioners and other products does nothing to remove the build-up caused by those products. Although going “no poo” eliminates the sulfates, parabens and such, without some other kind of cleansing option, you would have to wait for the chemical build-up to wear off. Also, this option does not address any of the damage your hair has already suffered. In order to see truly healthy hair, you have to wait for the damaged hair to be replaced by new growth since going “no poo.”
While some people with dry, coarse or curly hair find the “no poo” option very effective, people with oily or fine hair will struggle with looking and feeling greasy between washes. Because of the need to control the greasy, dirty feeling of straight, fine or oily hair, some people will need to turn to an alternative.
Alternatives to No Poo
No matter how you choose to shampoo or not, remember - truly gorgeous hair always begins with a healthy, balanced hair and scalp. When you take care of the system nature gave you, the results are beautiful.
Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), are chemicals used to create strong detergents. Because they are such efficient cleansers and degreasers, sulfates are commonly used in manufacturing and construction industries to clean heavy machinery.