If you were to draw a timeline back to the beginning of human existence, you'd realize that modern shampoos as we know them are relatively new. Furthermore, the idea of shampooing daily is even newer, emerging only after the rise of major hair care companies in the 1970s. Much skepticism has been raised regarding whether shampooing daily is the right choice for your hair. And as a result, the 'No Poo' method of washing hair has become increasingly popular. However, a closer look reveals that this method, too, may be doing damage than good to your hair.
The Concept of the 'No Poo' Method
Traditional, store-bought shampoos are filled with unnecessary and even harmful ingredients in order to produce artificial colors and smells. The most common of these ingredients in sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Sodium lauryl sulfate dries the scalp, causing irritation, and strips hair of its natural oil, known as sebum, which is essential for keeping hair conditioned and healthy.
The 'No Poo' method seeks to remedy this problem. It involves washing with only water or a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The theory is that: without being stripped of its natural oils, the scalp will begin to better regulate its oil production, thereby breaking the dependency of daily shampooings.
Why 'No Poo' May Be Hurting Your Hair
The method of washing with just water alone is not enough cleanse hair of its natural oils, which leads to buildup. According to Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist (hair and scalp expert), "A clean scalp is paramount to healthy hair." Furthermore, dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross agrees that, "Scalp oils are actually hospitable to the growth of yeast, which can lead to inflammation."
The other method of using baking soda or other domestic detergents can be even more harmful. With a pH of 9, baking soda is 100 times more basic than water, making it a known alkaline irritant. Dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, M.D. asserts of hazards of using baking baking soda on hair, saying, “The first principle of shampooing: make sure your shampoo says it is pH-balanced and avoid those that are alkaline. Alkaline shampoos strip the hair’s natural oils and disrupt the acid mantle, causing dehydration and leading to porous, fragile hair.”
Natural Shampoos as an Alternative
The path to healthier hair doesn't have to be as black and white as synthetic shampoos vs. 'No Poo'. Many natural shampoo brands (Like Morrocco Method's paleo-friendly, unprocessed hair care line) offer products that cleanse hair while not stripping the scalp of its natural oils. Many natural ingredients can actually replenish your hair's oils, including:
Sweet Almond Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Sweet Orange Oil
Natural shampoos that incorporating ingredients like these can prevent oil buildup while also strengthening and benefiting the hair.
Final Verdict: Natural Shampoos are the Better Choice
The DIY 'No Poo' approach to hair care is a risky undertaking that may leave hair dried and damaged. Instead, look to natural shampoos that work with your hair, gently replenishing its natural oils from root to tip.