DON'T WASH YOUR HAIR
If we refuse to eat stuff made from long lists of chemicals, why drench our head in them daily?
As with most substances that are mass manufactured and packaged in plastic, our shampoo and conditioner mostly contain chemicals that our bodies are not designed to encounter much less absorb. With food, it is pretty easy to read the label, cringe at the preservatives and colours, and pop it back on the shelf. With cosmetic and hygienic products, we don’t have the luxury of a fresh produce section to select ingredients in their natural state. We browse a section stacked with plastic bottles and tubes.
I have been using organic products packaged in recycled plastic that claim to be just as good as the salon products. They are also triple the cost. Truth is, none of them enhanced my hair or made it easier to brush. In fact, my hair looked it’s best on those magical summer days where I simply rinsed with water after surfs and the closest thing to conditioner was the coconut oil it sopped up off my shoulders and back.
THE “NO POO” MOVEMENT
I began to research if this “hair washing” business is all just a bit of corporate voodoo and I found that there is a flourishing “No Poo” movement! Folks from all walks of life dedicated to abandoning this shampoo nonsense, because it can actually throw off the natural oils and healthy bacteria our bodies produce to keep us disease-free. (There is even plenty of interesting innovation happening in this space, such as inviting new bacteria to settle into our personal biome for cosmetic and health benefits; read more.)
We were raised to think of germs as ‘dirty’ and dangerous. We also know we are crawling with billions of bugs—microbes that are crucial for digestion, skin health, and immunity. We are so aware, that we now opt out of most antibiotics, eat lots of fermented foods, and celebrate eating from farmer’s markets where food is grown in soil, which keep our own bacteria diverse. Well, where is the love for our own naturally produced bacteria and hair oils, like sebum; which are moisturising and create a protection barrier for the skin and hair from disease. Keeping these working will help us stay healthy.
POO IN YOUR POO
Perhaps a social norm gone extreme, but it seems that we have collectively formed an unhealthy habit of over bathing. So much so, that Boston-based Dr. Ranella Hirsch reckons our compulsive washing actually makes us more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Think about it, dirt does not cause disease. And repeatedly killing off the good bacteria on our skin may actually harm our immunity. Just as anti-bacterial soaps are filled with harsh chemicals that upset the balance of bacteria on the skin, if you use common commercial shampoos, you're lathering up your scalp with an array of chemicals with every wash. For instance, shampoo commonly contains endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals known to interfere with development and reproduction, and they may cause serious neurological and immune system effects. Also, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a widely used and inexpensive chemical found in most shampoos, which is a known irritant but more dastardly it is made from palm oil, a horrendous industry contributing to deforestation of natural rainforests, home to thousands if not millions of species, many undiscovered. This seems full on for something so ingrained in our daily routine, but that is exactly why I have quit these common plastics: To question the norm, find holes just like this in my daily routine, and replace them with more earth-centric options.
The Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, DC, compared the ingredients in 42,000 personal care products against 50 toxicity and regulatory databases and found that most shampoos have at least one chemical that raises concern (although the hair care industry counters by claiming that the chemicals are safe in the concentrations used). The group flagged the following groups of ingredients as hazardous: fragrances (the ingredients forming the fragrances are not disclosed), parabens (linked to endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity concerns), DMDM hydantoin (allergy concerns), 1,4- dioxane (which The Environmental Protection Agency has labelled as a probable human carcinogen). - Middlewood, Erin (April 12, 2009). "A clean break from shampoo". The Columbian (Vancouver, WA). Retrieved August 13, 2012 – via HighBeam.
Unless you have very fine hair, sweat profusely daily, or are living in very humid place, Doctors agree washing your hair often could be worse for you in the long run. (Carolyn Goh, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.)
Overjoyed, I stopped washing my hair.
It actually got fuller, blonder, healthier, and longer. MIRACLE TIP? Pretty much. But it’s one of the beautiful benefits of quitting plastics, you SIMPLIFY. (Disclaimer: I get in the ocean a few times a week, so this saltwater treatment would help heaps with oil build up.)
I did have a few weeks off where I was injured and out of the water, and the grease pushed me to investigate a few alternatives. I came to the simple recipes below. These keep hair care affordable and easy as the main ingredients can be purchased at any market. When we choose to stray from the standard in search of something more natural or more connected to our earth, we find simplicity is best. Just a few ingredients to start. Keeping our goals attainable and simple makes a new life system sustainable. If our recipes had 10 ingredients, we would be unlikely to make them every few months and the convenience of the plastic bottles could be powerfully tempting.
POTION MAKING TIME
Everyones hair is different, so you may wish to choose a week off work to experiment with this new hygienic remedy—unless your co-workers are open-minded legends. Some people find that it can feel grimy and unclean the first few days between switching methods and starting with these concoctions, but then the hair reacts wonderfully and looks its healthiest ever. Monitor your own scalp, oil production and wash your hair when necessary. And, if you do go soaps or plastic, look for mild ingredients and always go organic.
- 1/4 cup Baking Powder
- Essential Oil (Lemon for blonde, rosemary for brunette, chamomile for shine + strength as it prevents split ends & breakages).
- 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 4 cups Water
- add body and shine as well as help balance the pH level of your scalp.)
CONDITIONING TREATMENT Ingredients:
- Coconut Oil
A few notes on Coconut Oil - THE MIRACLE DRUG
According to a study that compared mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil as possible products for nurturing and conditioning hair, coconut oil was the only oil that reduced protein loss for both damaged and undamaged hair. (Researchers noted in the Journal of Cosmetic Science) Coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft. It is hydrophobic—meaning it repels water—so when applied as a pre-wash conditioner, it inhibits the penetration of water into each strand, which would otherwise cause the cuticle, or surface of your hair shaft, to rise, making it prone to damage and breakage. When applied as a pre-wash treatment, a small amount of the coconut oil is able to penetrate deeper into your hair shaft during the wash, when your hair fiber swells slightly.