Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Shampoo Free Life

I have a strange declaration to make.

Since February this year, I've not once used shampoo.

I have used conditioner but just a mere three or four times when I've dyed my hair at home and have used the conditioning treatment that comes in the box. Other than that, I've been living shampoo and conditioner free for over four months.

Am I stinky? Nope.

Greasy? Not a bit.

Have I turned into a dreadlocked hippy? Absolutely not!

My hair is shiny and clean and yes, I'm frightfully aware I'm starting to sound like an advert so I'll get to the point because I love my shampoo free life and want to talk about it! I was prompted to do so because at the new lunch time knitting group we've got going in Civic, I mentioned my hair care routine today and there was a goodly amount of interest. I said I'd do a post on it.

There's a whole movement out there supporting the idea that shampoo is bad. Some say it's bad for our waterways. Others say it's bad for our hair, stripping it of natural oils and necessiting the use of conditioner which only serves to try and replicate the natural oils and not in a very lasting or helpful way. Google the subject if you're interested and read about all the ways shampoo has come to be seen by many as a fairly nasty and unecessary product.

For me, the lure of the shampoo free life is manifold. I don't like the idea that most shampoo is no less harsh than dishwashing detergent. If it's stripping my hair, what's it doing to my skin, which after a shower always feels dry and tight? There's a fair amount of evidence in dermatology circles to say that shampoo is abrasive and a contributor to a range of skin disorders.

And shampoo is so expensive, packaged in pretty bottles making so many stupid claims I just get angry at myself for falling for it. I'm skeptical about many claims made by beauty products and have long been an advocate for finding ways to not be sucked in by the industry. I love using household products on my face and my body so this shampoo free concept was really just a method just waiting for someone like me to find it.

So thanks to a friend I was put onto a company in Tasmania called Beauty and the Bee. They write on their site quite eloquently about the philosophy behind their products, many of which are olive oil or coconut oil based.


I bought a bar of their soap and one of the real keys to the shampoo free life, Apple Cider Vingear. That's a big part of the shampoo free movement, rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar (diluted). I don't fully understand the science of it but the rinsing part of the process restores the right ph balance to your hair and, well, I can tell you it works. Don't worry about the smell, the vinegar is weak and the smell evaporates, so Sean confirms, as your hair dries.

Afterwards, my hair always feels soft and lovely, just as if I'd put conditioner through it. I was amazed the first time I tried it and I've become addicted to it. On days when my hair doesn't need washing, I sometimes still put a rinse through before getting out of the shower because it gives my hair a between wash lift.

And that's another thing - frequency of hair washing decreases rapidly once you get used to this method. I used to wash my hair every second day, sometimes daily, now I'm washing my hair twice a week and only wetting and styling it every other day. I'm getting such great wear out of this! It's saving me bucketloads of time, being the fussy hair person I am.

I put my sister Adele onto it and after a few weeks of struggling with an adjustment period, she too became a convert. Her hair is thicker and coarser than mine so she used a different soap, but the result was the same. Now she's shampoo free too.

The company makes other products - I love their mud mask and my sister Fee says the nappy rash ointment was the best she's used.

So this isn't much help for non-Aussies who don't want to pay the postage overseas, but I just wanted to share because going shampoo free has been so great for me and there must be companies all over the world who do stuff like this.

Some people take the shampoo free thing a lot further than I do, not doing anything more than rinsing with vinegar and water. They say the transition time to reach the point where your hair is no longer needing any kind of cleansing is long and painful and I'm not quite ready to go that far. I'm very happy with the olive oil soap I'm using for now. The soap bars last so long that this is really an amazing economical method, too. I cut chunks off the block of soap and find the whole block lasts a long time. I'm still using the block I bought several months ago.

I'd be curious to hear if anyone else out there lives a shampoo free life and would encourage anyone interested in trying it to give it a go.