Thursday, April 9, 2009

No shampoo experiment

A little while ago I found this article in the Ecologist about what cosmetics to avoid. I have been wary of the long list of chemicals for a while given that what you put on your skin may eventually end up as toxins in your body. At least that makes perfect sense to me. More so, after a holiday at the beach, swimming daily in the ocean I came to the conclusion that the long list of cosmetics for daily facial care may not actually be necessary. Although a colleague pointed out that just being relaxed and exercising was probably the reason for my healthy complexion, I liked the idea of not using half the cosmetics I had been told were necessary, but didn’t really help. Since then, I’ve been using as few products that are as natural as possible. In an effort to simplify, it had never occurred to me that I could do away with shampoo though. Thank you cosmo for enlightening me with an article about how shampoo is unnecessary (please, please don’t ask me why I was reading cosmo…yes, I am ashamed…)

Anyhow, they did an experiment of 5 women who stopped washing their hair for 6 weeks to test the theory that the natural oils on the scalp will self regulate once they stop being continually stripped. As I delved deeper, I found out that plenty of people out there don’t wash their hair and claim to have healthier hair for it. The women in the article had mixed reactions to the experiment and most were grateful for shampoo at the end of it. Except one, who found out that she had curls after a couple of weeks sans shampoo. Gorgeous curls. I was sold. I’ve always wanted curly hair and if the way to get it was to not wash it then I could do that! Yes, ‘normal’ people would probably get a perm or use curlers, by I am far to lazy and cheap ass for something like that – my definition of blow drying is to wind down the window in the car.

So I stopped washing my hair. One week went by and no curls appeared, just a fair bit of oil. Two weeks went by and still no curls but my hair seemed thicker and for the first time ever slicked back nicely in a ponytail without the usual stray bits sticking out all over the place. Granted I was lucky given this was my only hair style option as my hair was looking pretty gross out. By week three I gave up hopping curls would appear. Week four was fairly uneventful, except I figured that my hair was just not going to stabilise itself and would be greasy forever. I never made it to week 5. Halfway through the fourth week I got sick of grease on my comb and I washed it. I figured if there was no curls to be had, then it simply wasn’t worth putting up with the same slick hairstyle all the time. On the bright side, since that experiment it needs washing much less frequently which suggests that regularly stripping the scalp of oil isn’t such a great thing.

Last night on ‘What’s good for you’ they did the same experiment. Except in the case of the two volunteers they also did a microscopic scan of their scalps before and after the 6 weeks. Needless to say, the after images looked rather unappealing to the point where both of them were probably going to run straight for the shower, like I felt like doing.

On the same show, they were also trying to prove wether or not men can tolerate pain as much as women can by simulating labour on the host of the show. They had him hooked up to a device that sent electrical signals that contracted his stomach muscles. They accepted that this wasn’t the same but sufficient to test his ability to withstand the pain. After two hours of ‘contractions’ when they were spaced 2 minutes apart and lasting for 60 seconds he stopped the experiment. The midwife who was present indicated that it may have taken another 12 hours to deliver an actual baby. Ironically, as I sat comfortably on the couch watching, my friend was in the last hour of labour. She delivered a healthy baby girl last night and I can’t wait for the first introduction today!

So do you think that what you put on your skin is as important as what you put in your body? Do you or would you stop washing your hair? Do you agree that women's pain thresholds are higher then mens?


  1. I've read about those wash-less theories, and I've decided to let them pass. I don't like to go more than 2 days without shampooing.

    I do think what we put on our bodies is important. When I was investigating my mystery bald spot, I saw some interesting information on the effects of sulfates (found in most shampoos), and I switched to a sulfate-free shampoo. That's about as far as I can stretch for now. :)

  2. I've tried the same experiment, with a rather greasy outcome. I'm fairly conscious of the chemicals I use on my skin. I use shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste that is sulphate free and generally use nothing but warm water on my skin.

    If my skin is feeling really dry I use almond or olive oil with some essential oils added. Oats tied up in an old stocking foot and used as a wash in the shower or bath is also a great way to keep your skin smooth and soft.

    As far as the male/female pain thing goes, I'm on the fence for this one, I've watched many men and women in my life withstand some pretty painful moments.

    Ahhh new babies, what a joy!

  3. Congrats to your friend! What we put ON our bodies is absolutely as important as what we put IN them. I've known some people with gorgeous hair who never use shampoo, but I can only last a couple days and then I need to wash my hair just to feel clean :)

    - Sagan

  4. I'm very curious about the No Shampoo experiment -- first off, yes, I would at least give it a go if I read about favorable results. But my question to you is did you wash your hair at all? I mean, while in the shower, did you get your hair wet and make washing motions (finger-scrub your scalp), or did you just get your hair wet without doing any scalp massaging or did you just keep your hair out of water for 4 weeks?

    Right now, the longest I can stand to go without washing my hair is three days, and that's an absolute limit. I love how fluffy it is after I wash it, Day Two is a "meh" hair day and day three all I can do is think about how I need to wash my hair. Day four finds me in the shower, lather-rinse-repeating. :)

  5. absolutely cannot shower without washing my hair. I know they say it is better to do every other but not gonna do it lol. have a great holiday!

  6. I like to use Johnson and Johnson baby wash on my hair. If it gentle enough to wash a baby and their hair, it should be able to do the same thing for me.

    There is no way I can go more than 3 days without washing my hair. With all the sweating from exercising, it gets kind of gross.


  7. I can't not wash my hair either!! But I agree, reading this was probably the first time I ever thought about just going without all grandmother in India doesn't wash her hair and it looks maybe there is something to it...i too would want to hear favorable results first as well. Interesting topic..going to do some more research now!

  8. Cammy - Smart move! I didn't know about sulphate free - will have to investigate.
    Berni - I generally try and use natural products as well. I've wanted to make my own, but have never had the time. One day....
    Sagan - yeah, that was exactly why I ended up washing it. Still, it's obviously possible
    Bikini Quest - I did regularly wet my hair and I massage the scalp. Towards the end I also tried a bicarb soda rinse and a herb rinse. Didn't change a thing :-(
    Kristi - Mmmm hair washing does feel so nice..
    Asithi - That's probably true, kids stuff is supposed to be gentler.
    Rupal - It's obviously possible, I just wish I knew the secret! I read that women in India put hot coconut oil in their hair also. It's supposed to protect against UV and add shine and strength. Of course I tried it, sporadically. Do you know anything about that?

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  10. To get rid of lice from hair, you will need to remove each mature insect and the eggs (called nits) that lice lay on the hair strands Nits are yellow, tan or brown tiny specks that with careful inspection, you can view on the shaft of the hair.



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