Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

A little digression

You know how sometimes things seem to align themselves in such a way that everywhere you turn, the same theme pops up everywhere?  The repetition makes you think that the universe is trying to tell you something.

My hair stylist has been telling me for years that I should shampoo less.  I used to shampoo my hair daily because my scalp gets oily and itchy. And, yes, I know what she’s saying. The more I wash, the more I strip the good oils from my scalp, the more my scalp generates oil. And round and round we go. Intellectually, I know all of that. But I just can’t do it. I bought into the whole marketing of hair products into thinking I need to wash daily to have the perfect hair.

Over the course of the past year, I weaned myself off of products containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and/or Laureth Sulfate and onto shampooing every other day. Still my stylist would like to see if I can go down to twice a week.  (We just had this discussion in January.  I was so proud of the every other day business when she dropped the twice a week bomb.)

A few months ago, I was talking with the ladies at the club about dry skin and what soaps do to our skin. I mentioned that, even if you use minimal soap, or only the mildest of all soaps, you still use shampoo. And if you shower, all that crap ends up on your body. So, to take care of your skin, you also need to look at what’s happening with your hair.

Last week, I heard a news story on NPR on shampooing less. Americans have been brain washed by Madison Avenue into shampooing every day. Less than that, you are not clean nor sexy. Hair limp and lifeless? Try this shampoo! Guaranteed body!  Dry hair? This shampoo will repair damaged hair!  Oily hair. Straight hair. Dull hair. There’s a product out there for every kind of perceived wrong with your hair. What they don’t address is that the root cause (no pun intended, but very appropriate in this case) is the crap you put on your scalp.

A few days later, at the weaving retreat, Judith mentioned a story she read about Meryl Streep’s guide to beauty, which including washing your hair only once a month. This led to a whole series of discussions over the course of a few days about the grease factor and how it’s done.

What exactly does it really mean when someone doesn’t wash their hair? They don’t wet the hair? They don’t use commercial products? They use commercial products, but just not “shampoo”?  Or perhaps they use shampoo that does not contain SLS.

I have done some research over the past several months on this whole “no ‘poo” (no shampoo) thing, and I’ve been very confused about it all. It seems that there are several different definitions of going no ‘poo. Here’s a quick run down on my interpretation of the various methods out there:

  1. Don’t use products with SLS or any products with silicone (no ‘cone movement is another subset), but mild products are okay. The premise is that you are reducing the dependency on the chemicals.  I’ve already done this by switching to various non-SLS products.  Current favorites are Giovanni 50/50 Balancing Shampoo/Conditioner, and the much cheaper alternative, Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo/Conditioner.
  2. Don’t use shampoo, but use conditioners in place of shampoo (as long as it’s non-SLS). The premise here is that all conditioners have mild surfactants, which will clean your hair but won’t strip the oils out.
  3. Wash your hair with baking soda wash and follow it with an apple cider vinegar rinse. The premise is that baking soda acts as a mild cleanser and the vinegar rinse will restore the pH balance.
  4. Really hard core — nothing but water. The premise is that your sebum will do all the work that’s necessary to keeping your hair healthy. Water will rinse out all the dirt and sweat.

So, my question is, just what is ‘poo free? I know that Wendy has gone ‘poo free, but she replaced shampoo with another commercial product.  As far as I can tell from the website, it’s a shampoo alternative.  It’s not what I think of going ‘poo free. I think it fits definition #2. This actually has been suggested by at least one stylist in my past.  I have never tried it.

So, bottom line, I don’t know what the definition of “no ‘poo” is. What do you think? What does it mean to go “no ‘poo”?


Earth Hour


Spinning Jill


  1. I have no idea what it means to go no ‘poo.

    I had been shampooing every other day for a decade or more. My dermatologist suggested I cut that down to twice a week or every 3 days. She also told me to use a mixture of half Neutrogena T/Sal and T/Gel. Then, I clip my hair up and let that sit on my hair and scalp for 5 minutes before I rinse it. I bend over and use the hand-held sprayer to rinse my hair to minimize the amount that gets on the rest of my skin.

    I use Pantene conditioner on just the dry ends of my hair.

    On the days I don’t shampoo, I rinse my hair in the shower and massage the scalp with my fingertips. That helps get the pollen out without stripping the sebum.

    I am down to shampooing every 3 days. This controls the psoriasis.

  2. I don’t want to touch “no poo” with a 10-foot pole! Sounds like a problem for your colo-rectal specialist. Bah da boom!

    I have not put soap to face for 30 years now unless there’s some coal-mining reason to, dropped the conditioner 4 years ago, and now shampoo every other day.

    Still, I know what my hair is like after 3 days of no shampoo and that is not a society-friendly look by any means. For this fine, straight hair gal, the result is a Charlotte Bronte brilliantined skull cap. No shampoo for a week? I can’t imagine.

  3. Ann

    I agree. No shampoo just seems over the top. However, I did try out the experiment. No shampoo for a week. (I wore a baseball cap on the last day.) I did the baking soda/apple cider vinegar twice in that week. The hair didn’t look bad nor greasy, but the itch factor was too much for me.

    I’m back to washing my hair on a regular schedule, thank you very much.

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