It Starts With Habit
Going natural isn't as hard as you might fear but it takes a little work. We've even done most of the work for you! You should first look at your shampooing habits and think about adjusting them. Washing too much could be causing an unhealthy 'do.
has a great article explaining just why you shouldn't be washing your hair every day. Washing hair gets rid of oil. This dries out the scalp. Because it's dry, the scalp works harder to produce more oil and you've created a cycle of dirty hair washing. Backing off could really benefit. When you stop washing your hair all the time, you "reprogram" your scalp to stop producing so much oil. Your hair doesn't get as oily and dirty and then there's less reason to wash! It might take a couple weeks but after the initial adjustment period, you'll see a major difference.
Another reason is that regular hair washing is a new thing. While a hundred years may seem long, in the grand scheme of humanity it's a blip on the radar. We're not saying running around dirty was all that fun in the middle ages but shampooing wasn't even invented until the 1930's. Before that, regular body soap was used in hair as well. People didn't wash every day so any damage the harsher soap did was put off by the natural body oil. It was advertisements that told us we needed something special for hair.
Harsh Chemicals in Shampoo
Shampoo is one of those cleaning items that line a whole aisle catering to all varieties from fine hair to extra shine and added volume. Much like toothpaste and cleaning supplies though, there's a basic formula under all the extra ingredients that could have serious health implications.
Allow me to introduce our old friend sodium lauryl sulfate
. Yes, it's in shampoo too. You may know this chemical from our blogs on green cleaning supplies
and natural toothpastes
. It's also on the back of many products as SLS or SLES. This is the foaming agent in soap that creates the suds or the lather in "lather, rinse and repeat" on the back of shampoo bottles.
Many health-aware individuals are quick to point to SLS when talking about going green. It's classified as an "irritant" for eyes and not recommended for swallowing. What really gets people agitated about SLS is the 1,4-dioxane traces, a byproduct and probable carcinogen. The Food and Drug administration recommends monitoring these levels but many feel it's better and safer to cut SLS out all together, less the byproduct slip through.
The problem with this is that government agencies find SLS to be safe so it's in a lot of soaps, cleaners and shampoos. Finding any soap product without it is hard. If it's not SLS, it's Coamidopropyl betaine, which is linked to skin allergies
, or coamide DEA
, another irritant. Our list below contains five products free of these ingredients.
I should point out that this 2015 study
from Environmental Health Insights states that SLS is safe for household cleaning products. Most studies on the chemical are hard to read and decipher so if you go natural but keep SLS in your ingredients, you're not alone. This is something you need to decide for yourself since it's so hard to find products without it.
are another popular term you may see a lot on our green product blogs. They're known for
birth defects, reproductive complications and infant health concerns. Unfortunately, these are in a lot of cosmetic products under numerous acronyms, including shampoo. The BabyCenter
site has a list of common phthalates to look out for.
Cutting back, stopping or switching out shampoos can eliminate or limit exposure to some of these chemicals.
It's All About You
What products work will depend on you and not just your preferences. Your biology plays a big role in what natural hair care products and routines will work for you. Some people can use the No-Shampoo trend
, the method of washing with water or natural ingredients only, without a problem but it doesn't work for everyone. Let's look at what factors you need to keep in mind.
Very fine hair won't like skipping washes for too long but if you have thick hair you may be able to get away with the no-shampoo method easily. Coiled hair, like that of African American hair, makes it hard for oil to travel from scalp to the rest of the hair so "washing" with water may assist in transporting natural oil to the rest of the strands.
Not washing dry skin could leave your scalp irritated and flaky. While most scalps will start regulating oil productions, if you have super oily skin you may have a build up of oil in your hair and produce that shine even after the initial adjustment period. Others may find the lack of harsh detergents very welcomed. Certain skin types could react to essential oils in natural products, or do better with shea butter over harsh chemicals.
You also need to remember that when you're not washing your hair, you shouldn't use styling or other products. The more product, the more reason to wash it. Plus, most styling products contain the same concerning chemicals you're trying to avoid in shampoo.
Trial and change are key when choosing your natural products. Because you're cutting out chemicals that have a long history of testing and that you've used for most of your life, it may take a while before you find a shampoo that you like. Use them for a month at least to give your hair and scalp time to adjust. Better yet, use up the bottle to keep from wasting product. Travel-sized shampoos are great for testing periods or see if a friend wants to join you in changing shampoo.
Five Great Natural Shampoos To Consider
If you really want to try the no-shampoo method, have at it but we have a great selection of natural hair care products right here on eVitamins. Here are our favorites!
This only covers shampoos but conditioners
can contain the same questionable ingredients. It's important to read the ingredients before choosing your conditioner. You may find you don't need to condition after every wash. The rules of hair care are up to you! Again, give yourself time to adjust before deciding against something.
About The AuthorMonica Levin, RHN is a Life Coach and has been a Registered Holistic Nutritionist for over 20 years with a degree from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Ms. Levin is also a Certified Body Language Trainer, Ordained Minister and Appreciation in the Workplace Facilitator who is an in-demand Corporate Speaker on health and wellness at events all over the USA and Canada.
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