I quit using shampoo 4 years ago and this is what happened! Find out all about how shampoo is a big SCAM and my personal no shampoo results here + a guide on how to do it.
Hey everyone! Who doesn’t wish for healthy, clean hair? Our love for shiny, beautiful hair is the reason for a £60 billion global hair industry, including salons, hair care & styling products and of course, shampoo.
Liquid shampoo was invented in 1927, before which people used many alternatives to clean their hair, including soap. The rise of consumerism and advertising slowly made shampoo a must-use product for everyone, since it meant healthy, shiny and most importantly, fragrant hair.
But does shampoo do more harm than good? Well, my experience certainly says so, and that’s the reason I never advertise shampoos in my shoots and campaigns. I quit using shampoo over 4 years ago, most people are shocked when I tell them this. Curious? Read on…
Is Shampoo Bad for Your Hair?
Almost everyone associates the mantra “lather, rinse, repeat” with clean hair. But studies have shown that lather is not only unnecessary, but also harmful for your hair.
- Your scalp naturally produces essential oils, called sebum, and your skin naturally has bacteria and other micro-organisms, which are mostly healthy. Shampoo strips your hair of these natural oils and bacteria, leaving your scalp dry. The more the lather, the more it dries.
- “Essentially, shampoo is composed of detergents, which clean scalp and hairs by removing dirt, styling products, sebum [natural oils], and skin scales,” says Leopoldo Santos, MD, clinical fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Dermatology and Skin Science in an interview for Alive.
- One of the most problematic things about shampoo is that its long-term use disrupts the natural pH level of the scalp. Our scalp and skin has a pH between 4.5 to 5. However, the pH of soap-based cleansers is about 8 to 9, they’re too basic.
- When frequent shampooing strips the hair of its oils, the scalp tries to balance it by producing even more oil, which then makes you shampoo even more. And thus the vicious cycle continues. This increases hair fall and in some cases, dandruff.
- Furthermore, shampoos, even baby shampoos contain harmful chemicals (link to a news article on NYTimes), such as formaldehyde, parabens and sulfates, some of which are linked to birth defects, nervous system defects and even cancer. You can find a list of harmful chemicals found in shampoos and their effects in an article here.
What’s the No-Poo Movement?
As the harmful effects of shampoo have become popular, more and more people have begun to try non-shampoo alternatives, also called no-pooing! Some people wash their hair with only water, and some use baking soda, or other natural cleansers. Some people haven’t stopped using shampoo entirely, but have minimized it to a great extent.
Minimizing shampoo use reduces the exposure to chemicals, and maintains the scalp’s natural pH balance. In the long term, this helps our hair become less dry, as our scalp begins to produce its natural oils. Thereby, hair fall is greatly reduced, making your hair thick and healthy.
Cost-savings aside, these positive no shampoo results are enough to make many people want to try it.
Washing Hair Without Shampoo: My Experience
Years ago, I used to be a big believer in expensive hair care. I used to invest in the best possible shampoos, hair masks and pricey hair spa treatments. And that’s why when my fiance first told me that he’d make me quit shampoo after we got married, I was very worried.
Sure enough, just ’cause he forced me to, I tried washing my hair with baking soda after we got married. This was in 2014. He had warned me that my hair during the first one month would feel grimy and waxy. It’s the transition period, he said. I hated that time, I wished to shampoo secretly when my husband went to office! But luckily, I resisted the urge and after a month or two, my hair actually became cleaner, shinier and way thicker. My no shampoo results have made it all worth it.
And since then, there’s been no looking back! Now I regularly use diluted baking soda (see exact proportions and method below). Here’s how my hair looks now – no oil, no hair spas, no hair styling. This is natural.
Is Shampoo a Scam?
Yes, I do believe so, and so do many dermatologists! The no shampoo results of countless people like me proves that shampoo is unnecessary. Shampoo brands have been so successful in brainwashing us that even the thought of quitting shampoo sounds scary to some, thinking their hair will become greasy and smelly! But even dermatologists have talked about no shampoo results on health websites like WebMD.
I jumped on the no-poo bandwagon when it was at its peak. Lots of people were experimenting and even celebs were recommending it. Now it’s been years since that time, and no-pooing is no longer an experiment. You can actually read about our experiences and see our no shampoo results for yourself.
The only concern is that the shampoo companies have been doing their own anti-baking-soda propaganda so that people don’t stop buying shampoo. So be careful about what you read, check if they list any credible sources (you can find several in this article) and make your own judgement.
The Transition from Shampoo to No-Poo
During the first one or two months, my hair felt very unclean. They would stick together in weird sticky locks. Instead of shiny and healthy, they seemed grimy. This transition period is the hardest part. Most people who want to quit shampooing can’t make it through this part.
Simply, even if you don’t mind temporarily grimy hair, the problem is also that a century’s worth of shampoo ads have made us feel so used to using shampoo, that most of us can’t adjust to a no-poo lifestyle.
My advice is to tie your hair into a ponytail or bun when you need to go out. Or if you really feel that your hair is too unclean during this period, try just using a natural cleanser once in this month. Either way, stay away from shampoo!
No Shampoo Results
It’s been four and a half years since I quit shampoo. I now use diluted baking soda on a regular basis (scroll down for the method). My hair has been healthy, clean and I never have dandruff or hair fall problems. I don’t have split-ends either.
Sure, my hair is not perfect. When I travel to dry regions, I temporarily do get dandruff. But it goes away after one or two weeks. Also, my no shampoo results vary sometimes. Sometimes my hair seems wavier than normal. I also have days when it feels oilier or frizzier than normal, but so many factors like hormones, diet and stress affect those things that it’s best not to worry.
It’s safe to say that my hair is definitely better than before. It has become way thicker, so much so that I find it difficult to comb! I only use a wide-toothed comb now. Additionally, since my hair is always healthy and its oil level feels balanced, I never feel the need to go for hair spa, oil massage or other scalp treatments.
Is my hair completely chemical-free? Not at all. Actually, premature greying runs in my family, so I used to color my hair even before I quit shampoo. However, while I used to color every other month before, now my hair has even stopped greying so much. So now I only color thrice a year or so. Less exposure to chemicals and better lifestyle are contributors to that.
Other than hair dye, I try to avoid chemicals as much as possible. I hardly ever use heat to style my hair, and I avoid hair spray. Whenever I have to go to a salon, I wash my hair beforehand so they won’t shampoo it.
How to Wash Hair with Baking Soda & Apple Cider Vinegar?
Now the question you’re all asking, how to exactly wash your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar? Here’s how I do it, but you’ll have to try and figure out what exactly works for your hair, since every scalp is different and has different pH level.
- Use two sipper bottles, 500 ml each, cleaned.
- In one of them, put 1 tsp baking soda and fill it with water. Shake well to mix. In the other, put 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, and shake well. Be sure to mark them so you know which bottle contains what.
- Before washing, comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb to detangle it. If you have long hair, divide it at the center from front to the back into two sections. If you have thick hair, also divide it from one ear to the other so you have 4 sections. Keep the front sections at the front and the back ones at the back so they’re separated.
- Rinse your hair while gently combing it with a wide-toothed comb so it’s all wet.
- Take the baking soda sipper bottle and pour generous amounts of drops on your scalp (scalp only, not the hair). Pour only enough to wet your scalp fully with it and don’t over use it. Keep combing it throughout this process, so that your scalp is cleansed evenly. The diluted baking soda will clean your scalp, and the comb will gently push the dirt particles and grime down. Then rinse with water, still combing it.
- Next, take the apple cider vinegar sipper bottle and repeat the process with it. This time, use only a few drops, otherwise it’ll dry your hair too much. Rinse.
- If you would like to condition the lengths of your hair, do so, making sure the product never touches your scalp, so the scalp remains chemical-free. Rinse after a minute.
- Pat dry with a towel without rubbing it to avoid split-ends. Let it dry naturally.
A few tips:
- The amount of diluted baking soda and diluted apple cider vinegar you use will depend on your hair and scalp. Since everyone’s is different, it’ll take a couple of weeks to figure out what works best for you.
- If your scalp is dry, use less apple cider vinegar, or don’t use it every time. Personally, I use it only when my hair feels extra oily. Otherwise I just use diluted baking soda.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
That really depends on your scalp, diet and lifestyle. If you’re more exposed to dust or pollution, you may need to wash more often. Personally, I wash my hair twice a week. I have to wash more often when I work out or play a sport, since it gets sweaty. On the days I’m playing a sport daily, I just rinse it with water alone, just to rinse out the sweats!
The main objective is to clean our scalp without exposing it to chemicals. So just wash it whenever your hair feels dirty or itchy, and no more than that.
Is Baking Soda for Everyone?
I would like to believe that no shampoo results can be positive for everyone. It’s best to give it a try and see what works for you. Be sure to keep it very diluted (see details above) so that you don’t end up harming your hair.
The fact is that hair quality depends on so many factors like lifestyle, diet, skin, age and hormones. For example, certain foods make our scalp produce more oils. Stress, hard water and exposure to pollution may lead to hair fall. Not drying our hair properly may lead to split-ends. Change in hormones may lead to hair growth or fall, such as postpartum hair loss. That’s why it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your hair concerns.
If you still don’t wish to use diluted baking soda, you can still clean your hair with other natural or no-poo alternatives. I’ll write more about those in detail, but some are listed in our article here: Natural Hair Therapy. Sulfate-free and paraben-free shampoos are available, too, but according to Medical News Today, there is little evidence to prove that they’re less aggressive than regular products.
So are you going to try using diluted baking soda to wash your hair? I’d love to know your own no shampoo results, so lemme know below. And do tag me in your no-poo hair pics on Instagram @shilpaahujadotcom!
Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion.
Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That’s how it evolved over centuries and that’s how it’s been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]