”I just washed my hair and now I can’t do a thing with it!”
I was a young girl in the 60’s and back in those days, women washed their hair once a week, if that often. It was usually washed when they went to the beauty parlor to have their hair “done.” Once their hair had been styled, the only job they had until the next appointment was preserving their hairstyle. I remember women wrapping their heads in silk scarves and sleeping on satin pillowcases to keep their bouffant styles from going flat.
“Walk right in, sit right down, baby let your hair hang down.”
Then, in the 70’s, styles changed and both men and women grew their hair long. Young women turned away from beauty parlors and just let their hair grow long, and preferably, straight. Long, straight hair unfortunately tended to look greasy more quickly than styled hair, so the young men and women of that generation started washing their hair more frequently. My siblings and I adopted the new trend as our hair grew longer.
I remember my mother getting really angry at what she saw as a waste of shampoo when her three teenagers each began washing their hair every day. I can clearly see her standing at the bathroom door yelling that she wasn’t going to pay for a new bottle of shampoo each week and we better either change our habits or buy our own shampoo. Without skipping a beat, we each went out and purchased our own bottle. We preferred to pay for our own shampoo than risk having a dirty head of hair.
“If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” ― Hillary Rodham Clinton
Since that time, it’s been considered the norm to wash your hair every day. I might, and frequently did, change my hairstyle through the years, but I never varied from my routine. For decades I washed my hair every day without thought. It was a much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth.
However, throughout those years, I also developed a problem with dry flakes in my hair. My hair was also very fine and tended to have an issue with random strands of hair flying in different directions. It never once occurred to me that any of those issues might be connected to the daily shampooing I was doing.
One of the reality shows of the early 2000’s that I watched was “What Not To Wear.” It was a fashion show on TLC whose premise was to take a fashion “don’t” and turn them into a fashion “do.” On one of the shows, the hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, advised someone to quit washing their hair every day. They recommended washing every 2-3 days and just rinsing your hair on the other days. I was not ready to completely re-think my hair washing routine, but it opened my mind to the possibility of change.
Gradually, I started stretching out the time between shampoos. I started washing my hair every other day without any noticeable increase in the oiliness of my hair. After a year or so, I stretched that out to every 3 days. Again, my hair did just fine. Not only did it still look fine, the curls I used to have started coming back. Then, in the last year or so, I started going 4-5 days between washing. Still, no noticeable change.
I had heard about a trend of giving up shampoo altogether, so I decided to push that envelope and see what happened. It’s now been two weeks since the last time I applied shampoo to my hair. The results of that particular leap? No visible change.
“Brush your hair 100 strokes before bed every night to keep it shining and beautiful.”
After already going a week and a half without shampoo, I actually researched the trend. More and more people are beginning to find alternate ways to keeping their hair healthy while avoiding the chemicals in shampoos. What I found online supported what I’d experienced and figured out on my own.
- Most of the articles warned that when you first remove shampoo from your routine you have to be prepared to go through a short period when your hair feels and looks really greasy. Fortunately for me, and everyone who sees me every day, I didn’t go through that. I believe that since I cut back gradually, my hair adjusted gradually.
- The articles also recommended rinsing your hair with water regularly, which I have done ever since I started reducing the number of times I washed my hair. For me, it helps refresh the curls and removes sweat, which is water soluble.
- Using a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water on your roots every week to help break down any excess oil was also recommended. I have been doing that for months anyway. I use a mix of vinegar and water daily as a deodorant, I dab it on my toenails to fight fungus, and it just made sense to periodically apply it to my roots to help prevent any build-up on my scalp.
- In one of the articles, the writer swore that her hair color had gotten lighter after she’d quit using shampoo. The theory is that without the detergent build-up, your real hair color shows more. I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but I think my hair is actually appearing to look redder than it used to.
- Finally, just like my grandmother used to tell us, the articles recommended you brush your hair daily to help move and distribute the oils in your hair. Again, for me, this was intuitive. If I wasn’t scrubbing my scalp every day by washing it, I should scrub it every day by brushing it or massaging my scalp. A side benefit, is that rubbing or brushing your scalp can be very relaxing.
“A woman’s hair is her crowning glory.”
After going this long without using shampoo, my only real concern was whether or not my hair had an odor. I mean, I hadn’t washed it and I’d been using vinegar on it. Did I smell like a pickle that had been left in the locker room? I have a really poor sense of smell, so I couldn’t check it by myself. Yesterday, after thinking about it quite a while, I got up my courage and asked a good friend do a sniff-test for me. A really good friend. She said my head smelled like hair. There was no odor of vinegar or old work outs.
With that assurance, I’m going to continue with my experiment. I don’t know how long it will be before I use commercial shampoo on my hair again, but right now I’m pretty happy going without. My mom would be so proud of all the money I’m saving, too.