Monday, January 19, 2015

To (Sham) Poo or Not To Poo

A few years ago Daughter’s then boyfriend mentioned in conversation that he’d read that there were people who no longer used shampoo. He said that, after a period of oiliness, the scalp down regulates its sebum production and the hair begins to look clean again. My initial reaction was, “Eew.”

When I joined The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, periodic threads would come up about washing with “no poo.” I learnt that giving up shampoo didn’t mean giving up washing. The most common washing agents – used in conjunction as shampoo and conditioner – are bicarb and apple cider vinegar. People use other things, too, however, such as honey, tea, apple sauce, egg and water only. Washing with conditioner only is known as “co washing”.  The most common reason for washing with “no poo” is to minimize the chemicals which are prevalent in shampoo.

As I learnt more about “no poo” I became increasingly curious about the down regulation of sebum production. I had learnt from washing my face with water only and then with the Oil Cleansing Method that the manner and products with which one washes one’s face plays a large role in sebum production. I began to wonder if there was a way of washing my hair that would have the same effect. I certainly found that when I was in a situation where I was shampooing every day, oil production increased.

I’ve had short hair at various times in my life but have never been able to just towel dry it. Due to its fineness, in order for it to hold a style, I have to use product in it and then blow dry it. When it was short I had to shampoo every day to wash out product so I could put new product in. On home days I would just wet it and give it a rest. Interestingly, on those days, when it was a little oily, it would look good because I could finger style it and let it dry naturally.

On 10th December I did two things. I had my hair cut short and decided to “co wash” and see what happened. I opted for “co washing” because I wondered if conditioner, like the oil I use on my face, might work to attract the oil and dirt in my hair and scalp, which would then be washed off with it. I “co wash” every four days and either wet it or wash with water only in between, depending on how dirty it looks. (Washing with water only isn’t just rinsing, it involves massaging the scalp the way one would with shampoo, in order to remove dirt and oil.)

I love “co washing”. It leaves my hair clean and soft. As far as sebum production goes, I find my hair is erratic. It may be that it’s still transitioning and down regulating. Sometimes it feels oily the day after it’s washed, sometimes it feels clean until the day before. Other times, it feels dirty on day two but clean again on day three. There’s no rhyme or reason at this stage. It doesn’t look dirty or oily, however; no matter which day it is. It simply looks like there’s product in it and all I have to do is towel dry and finger style it.

This has been an experiment in curiosity. As I’ve used organic shampoo for years, I haven’t been concerned about the chemicals therein. I just like the idea of my hair and scalp dictating how often they’re washed, without using products which alter the natural production of sebum. I don’t know how long I’ll continue; there are days when I long for shampoo. If nothing else, I’ve learnt that I can probably get away with shampooing every third day. I may even “co wash” on some of those days, if I go back to shampoo. I don’t really know yet. I’ll keep you posted.


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