What does no-poo mean? No shampoo or diverging away from typical shampoo and conditioning methods. Technically it means someone who does not use any shampoo or conditioner but it has become an umbrella term. I started out as a strict no-poo. Why, you ask. Well it specifically started when I read an article at the old office I worked at about how you don’t really have to shower every day. After reading the article and finding my job really boring, I remember someone telling me about no-shampoo. So, I started looking into it. What really changed me was how men and women historically washed their hair compared to now. Way back when our country was being founded and beyond that, we didn’t have shampoo and definitely not conditioner. To wash hair, up until about 1900, you would have used emulsified fat (lye or sodium hydroxide). Sodium hydroxide is a very basic material. Not far away from Drain-o. Of course, its watered down, but still very drying. The first red flag I found about this was that the surface of our skin is slightly acidic. Naturally, that meant many people didn’t wash their hair every day. Up until the 60’s, most women only washed their hair once a week or less than that. After the early 1900’s got going, they came out with commercial shampoos. Still very drying, but more convenient than lye. Now, looking at the vantage of the companies that make these products, the only way to sell more product is to get your customer to use it more often. Companies had to find a way to make shampoo with more moisture. Around the time of the 60’s began a boom in consumers consuming chemicals. They loved chemicals, they were tired of hand washing and painfully using other chemicals. Dishwashers, washing machines, and many other appliances came around which needed chemicals to use them. People embraced chemicals and trusted the companies they came from. Today, we are a lot smarter. For a long time the sulfates and phosphates in detergents were being dumped into streams and caused algal blooms which ruined lakes and streams. This is just one way our blind trust had a negative impact.
Coming back to cosmetics and shampoos. These companies turned to sulfates for our hair products. Sulfates are the exact same chemical you find in dish detergent and liquid hand soaps. I know this from the chemical company I worked at in addition to just reading the bottles. Sulfates give a lather that can be completely rinsed without residues left behind like lye (think Dial soap on skin). But, Sulfates are still drying when used too frequently. Finally, they found a conditioner. Conditioners typically have a version of the material called silicone. Silicones, which I know from the chemical company I worked at, are uses as soft sealants and coatings. Think of elmer’s gue when it drys, it creates a pretty smooth surface. Well, the catch-22 of these awesome silicones is that you must use sulfates to remove them. Essentially, your hair is in a vicious cycle of being washed, coated with something, and then washed again to be dried out. What is the one true chemical hair and skin produces…..OILS. Oils for a long time have been thought to be the culprit of acne and have been shamed to be something dirty. But, oil is the only thing hair wants. Many other animals depend on oils. Take horses, they have to be brushed multiple times a day with a boars-hair bristle brush so the oils can be spread (think women brushing hair 100 times).
The final piece that had me convinced is that split ends cannot be repaired. They can be cut and they can be glued together by the silicones in conditioner, but never cured. It really made me mad that companies had me in their cycle. Being no-poo is no easy task though. There is a lot of oil at first because your scalp is used to over producing to compensate for the amount of washing. Then there is trying to get the balance of either castile soap or baking soda and apple cider vinegar right. Then I was making flax seed gel for my wavy/curly hair. Which doesn’t stay very well and takes time. But I did take up the oil cleansing method for my face, I don’t use body soap—only scrub with a loofa and very hot water, I don’t blow dry my hair, my hair is washed with cold water, I have a shower filter, and I do not use any lotions, only oils (lotions have silicones). But, after months of trying to get my hair styled right, chopping it off, still trying to get it right, something happened. I discovered Shea Moisture. Which is a line of natural and organic hair products. They have no sulfates, polyethylene glycols, or silicones (silicones are anything that ends in –cone). Now, I do an apple cider vinegar soak (wards off fungus-causing-dandruff), wash hair, Thayer’s witch hazel, and a little conditioner on ends once a week. During the week I rinse my hair every other day and add Thayer’s Witch hazel on scalp (good scalp health).
I might not technically be no-poo, and I still use deodorant and tooth paste, but at least the chemicals that go in my hair I pronounce and know where they come from. Plus, I will never go back to a cycle that has been started by companies so they can make money off of me.
- the blog that got me started; has real science to back up no poo
- one of the best things I ever did
- to see my lotion bars and other topics and places I am interested in