No shampoo, no soap, and other craziness

posted by Russ, August 22 in lifestyle design with tags , , , ,


A few months ago I first heard the phrase “No Poo”. Don’t worry, it’s probably not what you think. Or maybe it is. No poo is really short for no shampoo. And it seems there really are some people who have stopped using shampoo. And if you keep reading, you will find out that they claim they are better off for it, and also that I am trying to be one of them. Yes, that’s right. On both accounts.

Right away when I heard about the “no poo” movement, the thought of not using shampoo intrigued me. I’ve always wondered, with all our modern conveniences, technologies and products that we use daily, how did people hundreds or thousands of years ago live without them, and why do we need them now? Never mind no cell phones, TVs, or other things that we still (sort of) consider luxuries, but how did people get by without soap, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, lotion and all the other products that most of us consider to be essentials? This question has actually been weighing on my mind for years, and I finally had written it off, assuming that our anscestors must have simply been stinky greaseballs.

Which I suppose still could have been the case.

But what if it wasn’t? Is there another possibility? Is it possibile that these products are unnecessary and that they might actually cause the conditions they are advertised to fix?

The first time this thought crossed my mind was probably 8 years ago. At the time I was reading about acne, and wondering why I was still having some of those teenage trouble days even though I was nearly halfway into my 20s. In one of the forums I was reading, I actually saw the suggestion to stop washing so much, saying that excessive washing could be actually causing pimples! Something about irritation and dryness, and who knows if it’s true, but at that moment I really started wondering if some of these products we think we need cuold actually be causing the problems we think they are fixing.

So fast forward to a few months ago when David at Almost Bohemian wrote this article about how he hasn’t used shampoo in months! And he reported that his hair actually was still looking just fine.

Ok, my curiousity was officially piqued.

I went on to read a bunch of other articles reporting the same results, so right away I decided I should stop using shampoo. But the problem is that my entire life I’ve tried to never go a day without shampooing, because on the few occasions that I did, my hair was an absolute greasy mess by the next morning. The only exceptions to this were the few occasions I switched my diet to completely raw foods, during which I noticed that the general amount of oil my skin produced, and thus ended up in my hair, decreased.

If you go on to read some articles about not using shampoo, you’ll read that the oil that is in our hair actually increases when we shampoo too much, thereby drying our hair out. Sounds counter intuitive? Well, every time we wash our hair with chemical loaded shampoos and remove that oil, our scalp tries to balance it out by producing more oil, which gets us into this cycle. And further explained, all these accounts of people who’ve stopped using shampoo seem to universally agree that once you stop shampooing, you go through a period of several days to several weeks where your hair is really oily, but that it finally balanaces itself out as your scalp slows down its oil production.

My first thought after reading this was that I use organic shampoo and conditioner, so I figured the damage might be less. But I suppose, though using less harsh means, I am still creating the same cycle which causes the overproduction of oils. So I started going a day or two between shampooing, but it still seemed that by the third day I was getting awfully greasy, so thus far I’ve been giving in and still using shampoo every two or three days.

But then a week or so ago, I read about using baking soda during the transition to no poo. So right away that night I mixed up a little baking soda and water solutuion, and after using it as shampoo was amazed that my hair was perfectly clean even into the next day, though it was a bit dry.Which is where the apple cider vinegar comes in. Next time I used the baking soda shamppo mix, I then “conditioned” with apple cider vinegar. And I have to confess, the results are nothing short of amazing. Clean, well balanced, manageable hair. And my hair is pretty long too compared to most guys’. After this method of washing it is not too dry, and also not too flat like after a normal conditioning. And silky smooth and clean feeling even after a night of sleep!

At this point I am sold on not using shampoo, and will see over the next few weeks if the frequency that I need the baking soda wash decreases.

And as if this all weren’t enough craziness, the other day I read this guest by post by Matt of Three New Leaves, and he talks about going soap free. Now this is a bit crazy to me, as I have fairly oil skin. But as a test, after my 4 mile run the other night I just rinsed off in the shower, no shampoo and no soap (except for a little down there), just a bit of rubbing in the running water, and lo and behold, I didn’t stink and felt just as clean as I would after a washing. I did the same thing the next morning, and again, so far so good!

I don’t write this to try to convince you to do things if you’re not comfortable with them, but I do hope that if you read this you will at least take a minute to think about all the things you do without considering them, and just for a second think about why you are actually doing them.

If you asked me five years ago about what I was doing and why, I wouldn’t have had an answer. But then again, I would have never have thought that the day would come where I would be considering eliminating shampoo and soap from my daily routine, drinking green smoothies daily, eating meat less than once per week, training to run a half marathon barefoot, or doing 100 consecutive pushups. It just goes to show how challenging little beliefs we have can really make bigger changes.

Originally posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 6:35 AM .

7 Responses to “No shampoo, no soap, and other craziness”

  1. Rupen says:

    I am under the assumption that all these years of shampoo have accelerated my male pattern baldness.

    I first caught onto it when I went to the beach and had a headache, then my scalp hurt for a couple of days.

    Or maybe it was all those years of backpacking and collecting hotel soaps that I used as shampoo!

    Who knows

  2. David W says:

    Welcome to the Crazy Club! And we have cleaner hair for it now! 🙂

    I have been trying the no-deo for a while now, but it’s a lot harder for me to commit…

  3. […] board and use almost exclusively environmentally friendly cleaning products and soaps, and I even stopped using shampoo. I use organic cotton bed sheets and am in the process of shopping for a natural rubber, organic […]

  4. Barb Schanel says:

    Last December I stopped using shampoo. At first (for a few months) I used baking soda or egg yolks with a vinegar rinse, but when summer came and we started bathing in the creek again (I don’t live a typical American life), I stopped bothering with either method. Now whenever I get the chance (at the creek, during a downpour, or whatever, I scrub my scalp while water flows through it. My hair feels healthy and stronger than it has in years, There is one small spot on the back that feels a little oily to me, but it doesn’t look greasy.

    • Russ says:

      That’s awesome! I’ve not been able to fully kick the shampoo habit. I use baking soda every day or every other, but usually the grease starts building up so I end up using organic shampoo once or twice a week. I’m not sure, but it seems like I noticed that when we are out of town in places with softer water I have better luck, here in San Diego our water is terrible and hard, so I wonder if that plays a role. Thanks for reading!

  5. x80zero says:

    I’m taking the nopoo no soap challenge this august for a whole month while on summer vacation. Already knew SLS and silicone hair products caused dandruff and acne, switched them out years ago. Maybe some salt in the bath water will be enough for the hair pH. Thought about a stainless steel bar for odor control, like what cooks use about garlic and fish smells, what do you think? Stainless steel no-soap bar in the shower for pits?

    • Russ says:

      I had never heard of the stainless steel thing, just read about it. Very interesting! Let me know if it works! -Russ

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