Health

What Happens to Your Hair When You Stop Shampooing

January 10th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

Bathing is an effective way of reducing body odor and feeling clean, but what about shampooing your hair? Some forgo shampoo entirely, because they worry the chemicals can make the hair oiler and less shiny. Ditching shampoo has a formal name: the no poo method, which has gotten a lot of attention on social media in recent years.

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The history of shampoo and the creation of "no poo."

Liquid shampoo has been around since the early 1900s, and as shampoo formulas became less harsh in the 1970s and 1980s, more and more people started shampooing their hair everyday. This goes against the general recommendation among beauty experts and dermatologists to shampoo only a handful of times a week at most.

People who take on the no poo method rarely, if ever, shampoo their hair. Non-shampooers believe shampoo strips the scalp of the natural oil sebum, causing the scalp to increase its oil production. No poo advocates say this creates a vicious cycle and forces many people to use shampoo more frequently to avoid greasy hair.

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The no poo journey.

No poo participants often use baking soda and vinegar as replacements for shampoo and conditioner, and the first few weeks of the process are hard on many people.

The hair tends to be greasy and very messy during the beginning, but those who are patient and wait out the grimy transition period often report shiny, healthier-looking hair afterward.

Some people can't take the grime of the transition period, however, and quit the entire endeavor before waiting out the greasiness. No poo advocate Assya Barrette wrote in a blog post last summer that she quit the no poo journey after three weeks into her first attempt, but she saw positive results after adjusting her approach during the second try.

"For the first month or so after giving up shampoo, your hair is supposed to be super greasy as it readjusts to no shampoo," Barrette wrote. "Then, it bounces back and looks better than ever before."

Assya Barrette YouTube

Two years ago, writer Lauren O'Neal reflected on her experience of going three years without shampooing her hair, adding that her hair eventually turned several shades blonder than what she was used to. (She claims the shampoo was responsible for her darker hair, however, it's also possible for baking soda to lighten hair.)

Lauren O'Neal

The economic benefits of quitting shampoo.

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In addition to the aesthetic benefits, deciding not to use shampoo can save consumers money. Last year, a report commissioned by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found that many products marketed towards women cost more than similar or identical products marketed towards men. Shampoo and conditioner topped the list of products more expensive for women, as the shampoo for women cost nearly $9 whereas shampoo for men didn't even cost $6.

Price differences between male and female marketed products

"The largest price discrepancy was in hair care; products cost women 48 percent more," the report reads. "Usually, men’s shampoos and conditioners are sold as a 2-in-1 bottle, and so to achieve the same effect without buying a bottle marked explicitly as 'for men,' women would be required to purchase both a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner."

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