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.
Now, while the reasons for the ban are environmental as opposed to health related, there is a good tie in with a recent article about a new product by AOBiome. The article follows Julia Scott as she eliminates soap and shampoo and instead sprays herself with Bacteria rich AO+ spray. The spray is full of a particular bacteria that consumes ammonia. The result of this is that it competes with other bacteria, including dangerous MRSA.
So what’s the tie in? Well, it seems, as AOBiome states, that we have swung too far in the balance of sterilization. The new thinking is that Bacteria is not something to be wiped out, but to be studied. Blanket sterilization leads to ill health on a personal level, but also results in damage to our ecosystem.
The article, originally published in Scientific America, is important because it states in no uncertain terms that triclosan is not safe.
In animal studies it has been shown to interfere with the regulation of thyroid hormones (affecting metabolism and brain development), testosterone synthesis (decreasing sperm counts) and estrogen action (causing early onset of puberty). Exposure to triclosan has been shown to weaken heart muscle, impairing contractions and reducing heart function, and to weaken skeletal muscle, reducing grip strength. In aquatic environments fish exposed to triclosan were unable to swim properly.
Higher urinary levels of triclosan are associated with hay fever, allergies to airborne triggers (like ragweed and cats) and food (peanut, shrimp, dairy) allergies. Triclosan has even been associated with elevated body mass index in adults. Although the mechanism driving this association is not clear, researchers suggest that it could be due to changes in the gut flora or hormones.
It’s also important because the FDA has been pondering a triclosan ban since 1978. So if you want to eliminate exposure, then you need to take it into your own hands.
According to the New York Times, Old Spice is introducing a new hair care line with the byline “Hair that gets results.”
Well, let’s quantify those results:
shampoo contributes to plastics pollution. According to this NYT article half of all plastic pollution originates from single use products, read: shampoo. The average American consumes (and ultimately disposes of) 220lbs (100kg) of plastic per year. And this is due to rise to over 300 lbs of plastic per person per year.
shampoo ingredients pollute our water. According to this article at cnycentral.com the NY attorney general is looking to ban ‘microbeads’ tiny plastic beads used in many shampoos. Why? Because they end up in our water. Microbeads were recently found in alarmingly high levels in Lake Erie. Not enough? According to this study by the national institute of health, surfactants found in shampoo contribute to the destruction of micro-algae, threatening the food supply in our waters.
shampoo results in hair loss. According to this article at aarp, your shampoo includes foamers and thickeners, irritants, preservatives, alcohol, and greasers. All of these destroy your natural balance and increase hair loss. As men and women age, it becomes more difficult for our scalp to counter these problems.
Old Spice spent $33 million in the first 9 months of 2013 convincing the general population that their products make you a real man. Well, if real men are balding polluters, then I agree, but as far as I’m concerned, real men use noshampoo.
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?!
It’s been a long time since I used shampoo, 7 years. It’s been even longer since I used a Sauna. That all changed since I inherited a Sauna with my latest home. What follows is a description of the wonders of the Sauna, especially for your hair.
First of, a Sauna, for all of those not familiar, is a small wooden room fitted with a heater. The room is small and well insulated, usually just big enough to fit the desired number of people, most often two, and the heater. Most Saunas are five feet wide, seven feet long and seven feet tall. There is a particular type of wood used for the walls, ceiling and benches which give a Sauna its unique and pleasing smell. The heater is typically electric and contains three heating elements surrounded by volcanic rock.
The ritual of the Sauna is as follows: The heater is turned on for about 30 to 60 minutes prior to use. This brings the temperature in the Sauna upwards of 160 to 200 degrees (fahrenheit, of course) or hotter. You then enter the Sauna and, depending on your preference, add ladles of water to the hot rocks. Thus you vary the humidity to your personal preference. Usually, you stay inside for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and people do it anywhere from one to three times per session. In Finland, this is a daily ritual. I will always take a cold shower at the end of each session to close the pores The results are well documented and I won’t go to much in depth. Suffice it say, you sleep better, your appetite lowers, and you generally feel great.
But, my recent experiences were the first since I stopped using shampoo. What were the results? Nothing short of astounding.
First of all, after the first session, much of the oily buildup is washed right off in the post session cold shower. The result is perfectly balanced hair that feels great for several days. Each proceeding Sauna feels less spectacular for the hair, as the hair is now balanced.
Needless to say, this got me interested, and so I started looking around. According to saunascape “Saunas make your hair look great.” They go on to say:
We spend a lot of time and money on different hair care products to keep our hair looking natural. The truth is, we don’t need to. Our body has many specialized organs that condition our hair better than the synthetic products on the marketplace. The trick is getting them out.
A few minutes in the sauna will activate the sebaceous glands on your scalp, releasing a set of compounds that moisturize and condition your hair. If you wash the dirt away and spend some time in a sauna, a quick rinse is all it takes to reap these benefits.