5 reasons to go “no poo” and ditch shampoo

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A new trend is sweeping across America: scores of people are ditching shampoo for more earth and hair-friendly alternatives – including nothing at all. But would this work in the Middle East? Would the lovely ladies of Lebanon ever give up their luscious shiny locks? Turns out, they wouldn’t have to. Check out five reasons to embrace “No poo.”

Before I proceed, full disclosure: I use shampoo (though I only buy the organic, paraben and sulfate-free variety), and probably to my own detriment. I have to wash my hair every second day or it looks like an oil rag. So the reasons I’m listing here come from other sources rather than from any personal experience.

Alternative methods for going “no poo” include dissolved baking soda with diluted vinegar,  or honey with various oils like coconut oil.

That said, here are five most common arguments listed for ditching shampoo:

1. Shampoo strips hair of natural oils: we haven’t always had commercial shampoo products, but now we think we can’t live without it. But we can, and if we did, our sebaceous glands that control how much oil our scalp produces would be a lot happier. Most shampoos are said to stunt natural oil production, which dries out our hair. Then our glands produce too much oil to compensate. Most people believe it takes anywhere from two to six weeks to break this cycle without shampoo.

2. Many shampoos contain nasty chemicals: last year the Environmental Working Group released a report that showed that 98 popular shampoo and cosmetic brands contain chemicals that are known carcinogens or neurotoxins. They claim that the concentrations present are insufficient to cause real harm, but is it really worth the risk?

3. Many shampoos contain silicone derivatives: Dimethicone is used to coat the hair, which is supposedly designed to make hair more manageable. Instead it contributes to further damage since it prevents moisture from reaching the hair, which then dries out. Also, Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, is said to affect hormone levels.

(Related: dye your hair naturally with henna)

4. Plastic shampoo bottles pollute our environment: we don’t know about you, but we are so sick and tired of seeing plastic destroy our wild and beautiful places, killing both land and marine based animals. As people shampoo their hair more frequently than we ever have needed to in human history, we produce an extraordinary amount of waste that is particularly poorly treated in the MENA region. Not to mention chemical pollution, which most waste water management facilities are poorly equipped to handle.

5. Shampooing hair costs a lot of money: shampoos, especially the more decent brands, costs a lot of money. Considering that most proponents of No Poo recommend washing with baking soda and then rinsing with vinegar to restore the hair’s pH, keeping hair shiny and healthy need not eat into your monthly budget.

If you decide to experiment with a shampoo-free life, most people recommend washing your hair with baking soda, but there are other alternatives that may be more effective depending on hair types. Let us know how it goes.

Woman shampooing hair / Shutterstock

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7 thoughts on “5 reasons to go “no poo” and ditch shampoo”

  1. Lucy Mauterer says:

    I don’t have a problem with ditching the commercial hair cleaners, but be sure that you do wash your scalp with something anti-microbial like vinegar. I had a friend who went totally without washing her hair, just rinsing it in the shower with water and she developed a staph infection in her scalp. You want to be clean, just use common sense.

  2. Paul says:

    I’ve always thought of my hair as being on the oily side. The first time I went without shampoo my hair seemed to be very oily on the second day. I let it go and found that it balanced itself out. Actually, it’s much healthier with more natural waves and movement. It’s much easier to manage and seems to have ‘come alive’.
    I do wet it every few days just to keep it in order but I simply comb it or brush it into shape and it stays that way for days. Even when I sleep on it and it’s ruffled I brush it the next morning (maybe with a little water to add to shape) and it is good to go.
    My hair is longer now than it typically is in summer. With weather warming up, I’ll probably cut it just because of temperature but I can honestly say I like it much more. I also use the diluted baking soda wash followed by a diluted apple cider vinegar (regular vinegar works fine) rinse. I follow that up with a good water soaking and cleansing and don’t think about it for days.
    Your mileage may vary with longer hair and under different conditions. All I can say is that is quite possible to have ‘clean’ hair that is healthy and manageable even if it’s considered ‘oily’ before trying this.

  3. I have been shampoo free for 9 months. I use the Baking Soda method & Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother rinse. My favorite though is my homemade coconut milk shampoo. It’s delicious, full of suds, and works great without all the chemicals in store bought shampoo. I have lots of info on my website at nomorepoo.com I must say, I love being free of the expensive store bought shampoo and conditioners. The natural way is great for my hair, the environment and my wallet.

    1. I also forgot to mention, it’s very freeing to make your own products. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it gives me such a sense of accomplishment.

  4. Daniel K says:

    Great write up on the main reasons for going noshampoo. Shampoo in the middle east is probably a different topic, especially since most shampoos are produced in the west. I have heard of the famous tripoli soaps and I know my Grandmother didn’t use shampoo from a bottle.

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