Alright, no shampooers. It’s time to discuss one of the most important aspects of being no-shampoo: your children’s health. As one of the original no shampooers, my children have never used shampoo. From their birth and the first bath in the hospital, we watched as parents inflicted shampoo on their new born infants. I was shocked to say the least, but I knew that just as their parents used shampoo without thinking, so unthinkingly they applied the same chemicals to their children.
Of course, we’ve published articles that up until now, Johnson’s baby shampoo contained formaldehyde, a known toxin. This was only removed recently, but the shampoo still contains other chemicals, and studies about these are scarce.
I’ll round up what we do know about Shampoo infants and children in this article.
Phthalate levels in infants who use shampoo
This study shows that infants who used cosmetics such as shampoo, lotions, and powder, all had measurable levels of phthalates. The more products that were used, the higher the measurable levels were detected. Furthermore, the association is strongest in the youngest infants.
“synthetic, man-made chemicals of increasing public importance because of potential toxic effects to the developing endocrine and reproductive systems.
Recent data suggest that some phthalates can adversely affect human male reproductive function.
Phthalates are known developmental and reproductive toxicants.
Human studies support adverse effects of phthalates on male reproductive function.
Phthalates are associated with sperm DNA damage in male adults and has widespread effects on endocrine and reproductive systems.
Phthalate exposure through breast milk is associated with abnormal reproductive hormone levels in 3-month-old infants, “suggesting that early human exposures may have an adverse impact on endocrine homeostasis.”
Phthalate concentrations are higher in young children.
The short story here is that phthalates are bio-active, which means they have an effect on the body. More-so on the infant body.
According to the study, 54% of the infants used shampoo. And in conclusion, the authors of the study “recommend limiting amount of infant care products used and not to apply lotions or powders unless indicated for a medical reason.”
Exposure to chemicals
According to the Environmental Working Group:
Children are not little adults. Pound for pound, kids are exposed to more contaminants in air, water, food, and personal care products than adults. Immature organ systems are often less capable of fending off chemical assaults. Subtle damage to developing bodies may lead to disease later in life. Parents can make healthy choices by using fewer personal care products for their children. (source)
The Big Picture
Generally speaking, the idea is that children are particularly susceptible to chemicals in the environment. As such, a parent should limit exposure to these chemicals because early exposure is much more serious than exposure as an adult. Avoid shampoos, avoid lotions, avoid any cosmetics.
So How Can You Clean your Kid’s Hair
The short answer is that you shouldn’t need to ‘clean’ a child’s hair. Rinsing is sufficient, especially if the infant has never used shampoo. Shampoo creates a cycle which strips the head of oil, spurring the scalp to produce more oil, which in turn creates an oily head.
If you must clean the head, for example after using an olive oil cleanse, then you can use ample amount so baking soda, which is a weak saponifier (it turns oil into soap). You can rinse with a vinegar and water mix. Most children who have never shampooed (including my own) will not ever enjoy shampooing, so this will be difficult, but you can explain what is going on, offer a reward, and most will accept it.
Good Luck! And remember, your children will thank you for it.
When one brother is a hair dresser and the other one has long hair, a long beard and to top it all off is noShampoo, things can get complicated. Luckily my brother and I respect each other’s choices and we debate them.
This is how this interview was created.
Get ready for some funny answers, but also for a few lessons about how soap works, how the skin gets dehydrated and about the anatomy of the hair.
NS: Hello Andrei, how long have you been a hair dresser /stylist? Why did you become a hair dresser/stylist?!
AB: Hello! I’ve been hair dresser for a year. I chose this career because you’re very flexible. Basically you can do your job anywhere in the world, even if you don’t know the language. As long as there’s hair that needs cutting, I can do it.
NS: When did you first hear about noShampoo?!
AB: (laughing) When you decided to do it and told me. I don’t remember, you should know.
NS: Tell us about your noShampoo clients? Are you seeing more people going noShampoo?!
AB: Well…(trying to hold back his laughter) the clients that I have that don’t use shampoo are doing that because they are lazy, not because it’s their lifestyle decision. Besides you, I don’t know anyone who decided not to use shampoo.
NS: What do you think are some of the reasons people choose to be noShampoo?!
AB: I think it’s because they have their personal reasons like, it’s easier, cheaper, actually free and because they are lazy(laughing).
NS: Do you think there are variations of noShampoo? If so what?!
AB: Washing your hair only with water, with water and baking soda, with lemon juice or you can neutralize the baking soda with lemon juice and you make it into a paste and you wash your hair with it.
NS: What are the major benefits of being noShampoo?!
AB:You keep your hair’s natural oils. But it depends on the type of your job. For example if you’re a cook, you can’t be noShampoo(laughing), because all the dogs will follow you.
NS: What are the major drawbacks of being noShampoo?!
AB: I think I already answered this question… I mean it’s basically ok, but it depends very much on the job you have. If you’re a construction worker and you are dealing with cement, dust, and dirt you cannot clean that dirt only with water, you’ll need some soap to catch the dirt and grease, you know?
NS: What exactly are you referring to?
AB: Don’t you remember from chemistry lessons, in school? How soap acts, how it cleans, the chemistry behind it. The soap is basically made out of molecules which have a “head” and some “hooks”. And those “hooks” get anchored into the dirt/grease and the “head” sticks to the water and the bond between them is not breaking, and the water pulls away the grease/dirt. That’s basically how soap works. If it’s only water then it just goes over it(the dirt/grease) and it doesn’t “pull” anything away(grease/oils/dirt/etc).
NS: How would you compare people who use noShampoo with people who use regular shampoo? Is there a ‘type’ of person who is noShampoo?!
AB: I don’t know how I could compare shampoo users and noShampoo people. Usually the “flower-power” people tend to be noShampoo. You can’t be a star or an artist and be noShampoo, because you would have performances and concerts and all those products that you’ll use and the smells you’ll be surrounded by will stick to your hair. And you wouldn’t be able to wash them only with water. Imagine how you’re hair would be after a photo session with all the hair wax and hair fixer and so on. In this case you can’t be noShampoo. Even if you’ll keep your hair in water for an hour you’ll still have those smells and products stuck to your hair.
But no, I don’t think there is a particular type of people who are noShampoo.
NS: But do you think it’s possible to be noShampoo if you don’t use hair products and you only sweat and have a normal job? For example if you use baking soda and apple vinegar or lemon juice to rinse?
AB: Yeah, but that would suppose to wash it every day, or every 2 days.
NS: Have you ever tried noShampoo?!
AB: Yeah, between 2 or 3 washings (laughing). Meaning that I am washing (with shampoo) 2 times per week and in between, when I am showering, I am washing my hair only with water.
NS: How would you describe the experience, even if it’s so short?
AB: Well, because of the water that we’re having here, I can’t be noShampoo, because I’ll have dandruff. As I said, it depends on the person skin type. Not everyone can be noShampoo. If your skin is sensitive then you can’t be noShampoo. You have to clean it…
NS: Can you, please explain more what do you mean about the water?
AB: It’s hard water. The lime scale will stay on your skin and if you have dry skin then it will dry your skin even more and then you’ll have dandruff, dry skin. Let me clear that up: the water dehydrates the skin! So if you have dry skin it will dehydrate it more so you will end up with flakey scalp, even if it’s not dandruff. So as time goes by you’ll have to wash it more. That’s because the upper layer (of the skin) is dead skin, so when the water goes underneath it, it dehydrates it more. That’s because that layer absorbs the water which will evaporate afterwards and will leave you with drier skin. As a comparison it’s exactly how the ground looks in the summer when it’s very hot. Maybe you remember when you saw those cracks in the soil, even after a rain. The rain goes in the ground but then it gets evaporated and the ground cracks. It’s the same with the skin. So that’s why it’s good to have it a bit oily, with the natural oils.
NS: What’s the funniest story you’ve heard in your career as a hair stylist?!
AB: It’s not necessarily a story that I’ve heard but something that happened to me. (laughing) Basically I cut a guy’s hair the wrong way… at the end he was like: “oh… I didn’t expect this… but it’s ok”. That was because he explained what he wanted a bit differently and because we started to talk while I was cutting his hair, I forgot to ask him to confirm the haircut and I just went all-over, as he said, and that was it…
NS: And did he write a complaint or something?
AB: No, it was a free haircut(laughing very hard)! What more could I do? I couldn’t glue his hair back on.
NS: Why do you think people use shampoo? Is it because of marketing? Habit?
AB: A bit of both: marketing, habit. Some people actually feel better after they use it and the shampoo gives them the sensation of being clean and of a nice smell. So sometimes it’s not only the habit and marketing is also how you feel after and how it smells.
NS: Why does hair get dirty?!
AB: (laughing) The same way your hands get dirty!
Well the air has particles of dirt, pollution, a lot of smoke and different smells and those get into your hair.
Let me explain the structure of the hair. The hair, if you look at it under a microscope, it has the same surface as the scales of a snake, overlapping a bit over another. Between all those “scales” it’s a small gap, so when it’s humid outside that gap opens more. That’s why girls with curly hair have it fluffier when it’s humid outside. Ok, so if you sit in a room where people smoke, the smoke gets between those gaps. And it’s the same with the dirt, dust and all the things from the air. And besides this, there are the hair products that you use which makes the hair stickier. If you use gel, fixer, etc, more things get stuck to your hair. It’s like a duck tape, if you leave it out with the sticky side exposed you’ll see that the dirt and particles will stick to it. It’s the same with the hair. If you work in an environment which is full of smells and smoke… imagine if you would work in a fast food restaurant, where the air is filled with smoke and oil and steam. Or if you work in the building department. Every working environment has its pollution factor.
NS: What methods of cleaning hair do you know? What is the BEST way to clean your hair?!
AB: The methods that I know are shampoo and water. About dry Shampoo that’s a big no from me!
The best way to clean the hair from my point of view is with a shampoo that has a neutral pH and water and also if it has “repair and rescue”
NS: How often should you clean your hair?!
AB: Again, it depends on the individual. If you’re a construction worker, every day, after work. But in general once a week or once every 3 days.
NS: What is the best noShampoo hair style you’ve seen? (See some styles at http://www.flickr.com/photos/25947081@N05/sets/72157618425494002/)
AB: I didn’t see any styles besides yours. The ones from the link look like “messy hairstyle”(laughing). I consider that you can’t really have a particular hairstyle if you’re noShampoo because if you’re noShampoo then you have to be “no-hair gel”, “no-hair fixer”, “no–hair wax”. Being noShampoo you can only style it with the blow-dryer, but it’s not that strong. In his(Daniel-see link) case he is lucky that he has a nice texture and he can make it wavy, but imagine if you’re afro or if you have spiky asian hair… you can’t really do much to it.
NS: If your hair is a statement, then what statement are noShampooers making?!
If your answer to the previous questions was “yes”, then I’ll invite you to read my experience with noShampoo on my travels. If the answer was “no”, then I’ll invite you to read some reasons that might make you change it in to a “yes”.
First things first, I have traveled for 10 months already through Europe (so far) and I haven’t used shampoo on my trip, with a few exceptions that made me stick to noShampoo.
If you already started using noShampoo then while traveling you shouldn’t change that. Personally I made the mistake of using shampoo a few times. At the moment the excuses that I found made sense: I’ve surfed so my hair has salt in it, the water alone won’t be enough and, my personal favorite, I am lazy to go and buy baking soda(!). Yep, laziness made me go back to shampoo, only because it was lying in the bathroom.
It’s worth it for a lot of reasons. You won’t have to worry if you’ll have enough shampoo for the whole trip, or if you’ll find the right one when you ran out of yours. You can just wash your hair as you shower, so the only thing that you’ll need is water. Your backpack/suitcase will have a bit more room for something useful!
Sometimes I did used baking soda, but that was for when I was sweating or when my hair smelled as smoke, after a night of partying.
I got a lot of compliments about my hair in my travels, so that’s another reason why you should carry on. People think I use some special shampoos or who knows what. They don’t expect to hear that I am using either water or water and baking soda.
A thing that I did notice was the fact that if I am using a hair dryer my hair looks shinier and fluffier compared to when I leave it to dry. I don’t know why that happens, but for me it’s another trick to use when I want it to look in a particular way.
So as a conclusion, yes, you should do it because is possible and totally worth it. Another reason is it worth it is the fact that you’ll save money which is a very important aspect of traveling.
After such a great response to my post on my noshampoo adventures, I am thrilled to know that some of you are interested in a “how to” so you can try it for yourselves. For males, it is easier to go noshampoo, because with less hair, they truly can also just use no shampoo. For females, however, with all of our lovely locks, it requires a little more effort and a few more steps. But believe me, it’s totally worth it.
Baking Soda and Vinegar No Shampoo Method
500 mL Plastic cup
Apple cider vinegar
Using the plastic cup, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 3/4 cup of hot water.
Mix with your hand, or by swirling the cup, until all the soda has dissolved.
Pour this mixture onto your scalp along the part in your hair, massaging it in as you go. I usually pour a bit, massage, pour a bit massage etc., working from the front to back of my part.
Wait 1-2 minutes and then fully rinse your scalp.
Once your soda mixture is gone and rinsed, pour two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into the cup and dilute with one cup of water.
Pour this mixture into the bottom parts of your hair (not your scalp). I usually do this by just lowering sections of my hair into the cup and submerging them in there for a few seconds. To get the rest of my hair, I tilt my head to on side and pour on, and then repeat on the other side.
Give your hair a final rinse and voila: clean!
I have thick, long, wavy hair, so these amounts have been adjusted to the amount of hair I have and the amount of soda/vinegar I need. Play around with the amounts to find the right ratios for your hair.
I keep all of the materials in the bathroom, pour the soda in the cup on the counter and take that and the vinegar in the shower with me. I add the water in the shower as I stand there.
I wrap my hair in an old t-shirt to dry, not a towel. When I went noshampoo, I did some reading and learned that this alternative may also help with frizzy hair. Give it a try!
The instructions above are the method I have used for the last ten months which has brought me overwhelming success. Because it has been working for me, I have not tried anything else, but I have heard of other options you can try as a noshampoo regime. See below for some links on other alternatives and further information:
It really is that simple. It takes a couple times to get used to in terms of mixing everything up, figuring out the ratios etc., but once you do, it all happens in a jiff. Eventually you won’t even need to measure any more and you will get good enough to just eye ball it! Let me know if you have any questions, comments or feedback on how it works for you. For now, go buy yourself some soda and vinegar and go for it. You just might be surprised at how well you like it!
Perhaps the best part of all is telling people you haven’t used shampoo in your hair for almost a year. You can practically see the thoughts streaming on overdrive through their mind: “Are you insane? That’s disgusting! Get away from me.” As a girl with extremely thick, wavy hair, who regularly required an ungodly amount of shampoo to get through the mane (as my friends call it), the looks you get are that much better. The truth though, is that ever since getting rid of the shampoo, so is my hair. Hitting nearly a year of shampoo free, I could never go back. It’s just too great.
The decision to try it came innocently enough. Last summer, I started following blogs quite religiously, especially those on health and wellness and clean living. One continuous entry that popped up fairly often was the idea of going without shampoo: it was cheaper, better for the environment, and as everyone seemed to claim, better for your hair. I had always struggled with shampoo and my hair. I had never found one that could eliminate the frizziness that inevitably resulted, and I also always felt that shampoo left my hair flat and dry looking. With nothing to lose, I dove in and adopted the baking soda and vinegar technique. At first, I wasn’t necessarily committed, planning to give it a try a couple times, and then jump back on the shampoo bandwagon. I did this, and then jumped right back off again. You don’t realize the difference it makes or how amazing it is until you compare shampoo and non-shampoo hair, and then hear yourself saying, “how did I not do this sooner?”
Almost a year later and my hair is much easier to style, maintains its natural wave far more effectively, doesn’t seem as dried out and let’s just say that baking soda and vinegar is way cheaper than shampoo and conditioner. As a student, this is a welcome bonus! Now as I pack up to go traveling next month, I’m working on how to transport cider and soda, not shampoo and conditioner. At the very least I don’t have to worry about people stealing my shampoo in the hostel showers!
Ok… So, now you’ve dealt with all your fears. That’s good. You’ve convinced yourself that it’s ok to try this “weird” method. You’ve found your motivation. You saw that there are other people that have done it and they are happy about it. You’ve read enough information to make you try it. Now you’ve found the courage to try it.
You did it for the first time… You discovered that it is not gross and you don’t stink J You continue doing it and you see that it works fine. You stumble a bit (the build up and stuff), but you find support here. You read that you’re not the only one and you receive advice and carry on.
Now you’re more than one month into it, maybe more. You’ve passed the hard part already and you are happy with the results. You are really confident and you start to enjoy your new and healthy hair. You find yourself that you are really into this stuff and you are enthusiastic about it.
Sadly that’s not all…
Yeah, you’re not finished… Now you find yourself in the position when you start telling about this method to your friends and family. And… all Hell breaks loose. You thought it would be fine, but you forgot that you were reluctant at the beginning too. Your friends and family, and those you’ve told about this, start laughing at you. They start to mock you and they look at you like you are the biggest weirdo on the planet! J Maybe you didn’t see it coming, or maybe you thought you could handle it. Don’t worry, you will! They start to give you a bunch of reasons why it’s better and healthier to use shampoo… Maybe you start to debate those ideas, but I advise you not to. Let them say what they think, listen to them, but carry on doing what you feel like. They will think that this method is unhealthy, gross and bad for you. But you know a secret. You know that they are wrong because you’ve tried it for a long time, and you convinced yourself.
Steadily they will chill and they will probably forget about it. Be relaxed and you may find out that some of them tried it, or that maybe some of them embraced the idea and are using it. If not, you will find out that some friends like you for who you are, and that they don’t judge you by what you wash your hair with :))
Try not to let your friends change your mind about a thing you’ve tried and you know is ok for you.
And don’t forget the fact that you DON’T have to share this method, even if you like it and use it. You know best the people you hang with and if you think that they will give you a hard time, maybe it’s better to keep it to yourself. It’s no one’s business what you do in your own privacy.