One Month No Shampoo-
My Hair Care Experiment
By: Cameron Klass
No shampoo...for a month!?
I'm guessing your initial response goes either one of two ways...you're either the "eww gross" type or the "oh yeah! I haven't used shampoo for weeks/months/years" type...
For the past lets say 4 years, I have been using natural shampoo and shampoo bars, no conditioner or hair styling products. I'll define "natural shampoo" as limited, recognizable ingredients. (Tip: don't be fooled by products labeled as "organic", they can still have a super long list of ingredients. Always read the label, less is best.) I typically would use shampoo 2-3 times a week, letting the hair air-dry afterward.
Being Corona quarantined in April 2020 on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand blessed me with the perfect opportunity to experiment with no shampoo at all, just a water rinse! I believe even without the required social distancing , or natural life being the norm on the island, I would have pursued this hair care project in due time. So don't think you have to isolate to see how your head of hairs responds to a shampoo reprieve....
It's time we redefine beauty standards. The "natural look" is in y'all, and it's not just a fad, it's as ancient as time. Getting back to our natural self (body, mind and spirit) is where true beauty lies!
And I'm hoping that after a month, my hair and scalp will be familiar with how to clean itself all on its own; making shampoo use only a once-per-week (or two week) routine. We'll see what happens...
So, my observations over the month and answers to all your grueling questions: wasn't your hair super greasy? Did it smell bad? Did it itch? What did people say?...are as follows...
End of week 1:
After one week on my "no-shampoo experiment", yes...my hair was greasy. The roots felt like they had a waxy/sticky coating on them. I was sweating each day during my yoga practice and just from the hot weather. I would take a swim in the sea most days and after rinse my hair with cold water in the shower. (I have read that hot water helps cleanse the oils better, but I couldn't figure out how to get the hot water in my beach bungalow to work haha.) The hair seems to separate into strands, but after I brush through it, it's less clumped together. It's super soft (which is not normal for me, my hair tends to be more coarse and rough). No noticeable odor. Overall, I feel empowered in my femininity. I feel like I'm coming back to my own unique beauty, that was lost in pop-culture and modern society for the majority of my life.
End of week 2:
It seems to me that my hair is cleaner than at the end of week one! The waxy coating on the roots is less intense than last week, but is still there to a degree. I have managed to get my hot water working, and do believe this helps cleanse during the water rinse. My hair feels super soft and after a brush I feel like I'm ready for the red carpet haha. Still no odor or distinct smell (to my knowledge haha). A few days the back of my neck (not my scalp) was itching, so not sure the direct source of this, whether hair related or not, but thought it worth noting. I'm starting to feel like my hair is a more natural extension of self able to connect better to outer environments and energies.
End of week 3:
Yup, 21 days and still no shampoo...No my hair isn't growing a new species, it isn't foul smelling, and it's surprisingly not that greasy. The roots still have that coating on them that arrived during week 1; however, I feel it is decreasing with time. There is still separation between the hair as it dries, but brushing helps. I feel like my hair is softer than ever. My hair is naturally thick, but I notice that it seems super strong at the moment.
This week, with a couple more social encounters than the previous weeks, I found myself contemplating "standards of beauty" a bit more deeply... Questions began to flood my mind: where in history did our hair care routines even start? When in time did people start to wash their hair everyday? When did commercials and advertisements begin molding our perception with THEIR definition of beautiful hair? Since when is it accepted to massage our scalps with chemicals (that seep into the blood stream within 26 seconds) and smell artificial scents 24/7 as it clings to our hair?...Sometimes self-doubt would creep in, and I would be pondering if I should just wash my hair so I would avoid the discomfort of going against societal norms. I noticed myself bringing my experiment up in a conversation or two, apologizing for its appearance. As soon I noticed this, I questioned myself: why am I apologizing? I don't need to say sorry for myself, for taking initiative to learn about my body, for stepping back into my natural self... And so, as the week progressed and my mind churned, I conclude that I am feeling more bold and brave than before. I am learning to go deep within for beauty instead of giving the power away to the outside. This inner understanding and embodiment of natural health and hair-healing is then reflected to the outside.
End of week 4:
In the last week in particular, I noticed the sticky coating on the roots start to significantly decrease. I was continuing with water rinses and brushing it out which seemed to help make a difference in appearance. My hair appeared thick and wavy. It was smooth to the touch yet felt strong all the way down to the tips. There was no itching or odor. In regards to my social fears, it appeared fear of judgement stemmed from within; no one gave me weird looks or even gave a second thought to my appearance. This in the end deepened the level of social interactions as societal norms were transcended.
One month no shampoo, what a journey! Overall, it made my showers shorter and my cost on soap decrease. I spent less time concerned about my hair or appearance throughout the entire month, yet despite less mirror time, I was feeling more confident and beautiful than before. My one month no shampoo hair care experiment was a success in terms that I let my hair have time to restore natural oils and self-cleanse and I redefined the standards of what beauty means to me.
Moving forward, I hope to reduce my shampoo use from 2-3 times a week to just once every 1-2 weeks. To be determined!
Keep reading for the transition back to soap!
Adding in shampoo:
I found a natural shampoo on the island from a bulk store, no chemicals or fragrance. The base was a combination of oils. I was contemplating the liquid or bar form, I have used both over the years, and decided to go with the recommendation from the shop owner. Natural soaps tend to not lather as much as many traditional store-bought shampoos.
In the shower, I did a two-times wash for my reintroduction to soap to make sure I would be cleaning the hair properly and massaging into the scalp. There wasn't much lather and I was skeptical if the hair would be cleaned and if I was rinsing the soap out. I let my hair air dry as I prepared for bed and went to sleep.
In the morning, the waxy coating that was on my roots was gone. The hair was still separated until I gave it a brush. After brushed through, it was smooth and clean. There was no overpowering scents (which can be a cause of headaches). My hair seemed super healthy, thick, soft, and glowing.
Moving forward from here, I will experiment with how many days the hair stays clean before I need to opt for another shampoo treatment.