The normal reaction to hearing that someone does not use shampoo would be something along the lines of “Eww”. However, using shampoo is not the only way of cleansing the hair and scalp. In fact, when you think about it, shampoo is a fairly modern product and has only been around for less than a century.
A no shampoo hair regimen is referred to as a no-poo regimen in the hair industry. No-poo hair regimens are pretty common amongst women with curly or kinky hair or people who aim for a more chemical free/organic lifestyle. All hair types and textures can benefit from no poo methods of cleansing the hair.
No shampoo cleansing methods lead to the hair that is healthy and has movement, fullness, and shine. If you have color treated hair, your color will last longer by switching to no shampoo cleansing methods which means fewer touch ups and money saved. Let us take a look at alternatives to shampoo for getting the hair clean.
Alternatives to no shampoo
Many women use their regular condition for cleansing their hair. The process is referred to as co-washing, which is a shorter way of saying conditioner-wash.
Co-washing is great for hair that is prone to dryness and frizz but any hair type can benefit. Companies have taken advantage of the practice and created new products called co-washes to be used instead of regular conditioner for cleansing the hair.
If you’ve ever seen a Wen infomercial on television, then you know what a cleansing conditioner is. Wen was the first of it’s kind and is quite possibly the most well known cleansing conditioner on the market today.
Like washing with your regular conditioner, there won’t be copious amounts of suds and bubbles as these are caused by sulfates which are typically absent from cleansing conditioners.
Besides the name, there is no essential difference between co-washes and cleansing conditioners and in addition to Wen, there are also cleansing conditioners from popular brands such as Herbal Essences and L’Oreal.
Shampoo bars are just that, bars of soap made specifically for cleansing the hair. Shampoo bars were the go-to cleansers for hair prior to the invention of traditional shampoos.
Shampoo bars are great for all hair types and color treated hair. Like all no-poo cleansing methods, hair is shinier, more moisturized, fuller and less frizzy. Lush Cosmetics are well known for their soaps and shampoo bars but there are many other brands out there to choose from.
If you’ve used a mud mask on your face then you know that mud or rather clays have amazing powers of detoxification. Clays are great for taming frizz and bringing out the curl or wave of the hair. Hair is left super clean and very shiny.
You can make your own with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or you can purchase one from the many great options available on the market. Mud masks for hair are typically based on bentonite or rhassoul clays but there are also masks based on dead sea and other exotic muds which tend to be more expensive.
As the name suggests, this method uses only water to wash hair. By far the most cost effective of all the no shampoo cleansing alternatives it is also perhaps the method that inspires the most doubt. Many people just have an issue believing that water only can get the hair clean.
It’s best to use warm water for washing your hair to help remove oil from the hair and scalp. Water washing needs to be done regularly and your hair may retain a build up of oils until it adjusts. It may take a few weeks for this method to start working for you.
The most important thing is to wash your hair like you would if you were using shampoo. Do the same things you normally do and do them for the same length of time. Your hair will initial feel oily but it won’t actually look as oily as it feels. If you stick out the initial bad hair days, you’ll be in for a big reward.
Baking soda is one of those products you can use around the house for a multiplicity of tasks. It is also great for washing away oil buildup from the hair and scalp. Like all the other no poo methods there will be no lather.
You’ll only need a tablespoon or so of baking soda depending on the length of your hair. Mix your baking soda with a cup of water, use slightly warm water and mix well before applying to hair and scalp. Give yourself a gentle massage and do the same things you do when you shampoo your hair. hair.
Baking soda does leave some people’s hair feeling dry due to its high pH. To combat this, follow your baking soda wash with an apple cider rinse to restore hair to its natural pH.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar more commonly referred to as ACV helps to balance the pH of the and close the cuticles of the hair. The result is soft, moisturized hair that is frizz free. After washing and rinsing with baking soda, pour a mix of apple cider vinegar and water through your hair.
You may or may not rinse the ACV from the hair, it’s fine to leave it on, however, some people do not like the smell and prefer to rinse it from the hair. An ACV – water mixture is great as a final rinse after any cleaning method. 4 parts water to 1 part ACV is a good mixture to start with.
The Transitional Purge
There’s a period of transition when you switch from using shampoos to other cleansing methods. This period might be short or nonexistent when switching to shampoo bars, cleansing conditioners or mud washes. However, the transitional purge is likely to be pretty noticeable when switching to water only or baking soda/ACV rinse methods.
Initially, your hair and scalp may be drier or more oily. Some people even find that the go back and forth between these two extremes. This period requires patience and perseverance. Your hair and scalp will adjust and your reward will be your best hair yet.
Be mindful of the styling products you use when using no shampoo cleansing methods. Use products that are water based and easily rinsed away. Products such as serums for fighting frizz build up on the hair and are difficult to remove even with some shampoos.
The simpler you keep your products the simpler your cleansing method can be, and it is even possible that with no shampoo cleansing methods your hair has so much volume, moisture, and shine that styling products become unnecessary.
The Benefits of not using shampoo
Reduced exposure to chemicals
Perhaps the most important benefit from not using shampoos is a reduction in your exposure to chemicals. Sadly, many shampoos including those marketed for babies and kids have been found in the past to contain chemicals such as formaldehyde. Nowadays chemicals such as sulfates are standard ingredients.
Sulfates are great detergents. They are so good at getting things clean that they’re are used in products such as industrial cleaners and degreasers. Now, even under the most extreme circumstances, most of us will never need that kind of cleaning power on our hair and scalp, especially when we shampoo an average of 4 times each week.
Phthalates, a group of chemicals that have been linked to birth defects are also common shampoo ingredients. They are usually hidden under the generic term of fragrance on your shampoo label.
Parabens and methylisothiazolinone are also chemicals found in shampoos that have been linked to harmful health outcomes. The list of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals in your shampoo extends beyond those mentioned above and while it's impossible to eliminate exposure to all chemicals, reducing your total exposure is an achievable and worthy goal.
Keeping frizz at bay involves closing the cuticles of the hair so they lay flat. In order for that to happen, hair needs to be hydrated and at the right pH. The pH of the hair and scalp is around 5.5, any higher and the cuticles of the hair open up which is what we see as frizz.
Most shampoos have pH levels that cause the cuticles of the hair to open up in order for them to effectively clean the hair which is why using shampoo leads to frizz. No-poo cleansing methods typically fight frizz and promote the closing of the cuticles which is why hair usually appears shinier.
Hair is more moisturized
Open cuticles also lead to dryness because moisture is able to escape from within the hair strands. Since no poo methods cleanse hair without leaving the cuticles open or they involve steps to close the cuticles as a part of the cleansing process, moisture is held within the hair so dryness does not result.
You use less water
Typically, no-poo methods of cleansing the hair result in you using less water which may add up to financial savings and can definitely benefit the environment.
Better color retention
Sulfates strip hair color from color-treated hair and causes rapid color fading. No poo methods of cleansing the hair will keep your hair color vibrant for longer and the added shine and fullness from these methods are a definite bonus.
Less scalp irritation
Chemicals can dry the scalp out leading to itchiness and irritation. Usually, sulfates are the culprits, however, the fact that shampoos contain so many chemical means there is that much more potential for irritation and allergic reactions.
Switching to a no shampoo hair regimen may seem a little bit daunting initially and it does take a little bit more preparation if you’re using a method that requires you to mix your own cleanser (baking soda/ ACV method or DIY mud wash). Once you get used to your new routine, however, it will become second nature and you won't notice the few extra minutes it may take you to prepare your mixes.
Once you get used to your new routine, however, it will become second nature and you won't notice the few extra minutes it may take you to prepare your mixes.
Once both you and your hair adjust to the new routine, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated to begin with.