Shampoo has been the end-all, be-all hair care product for decades. Since the late 1930's, when shampoo first arrived on the beauty scene, we've been faithfully lathering our locs in foamy bubbles. And why not? Shampoo makes your hair feel squeaky clean, fluffy, and fresh. It comes in thousands of pretty scents and is constantly being tweaked with exciting, new, (and easily marketable) ingredients.
By the time I was a kid, shampoo was not just the norm, it was the only option that most Americans were even aware of for washing their hair. It might have stayed that way too, if the internet hadn't come along. Today, beauty bloggers abound, spreading the word about new ways (and old ways) to keep hair gorgeous and healthy.
The Ups and Downs of Shampoo
Shampoo is usually made with harsh detergents, like SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) or cocamidopropyl betaine. These detergents provide that bubbly lather that we all love, but they also have a tendency to strip the hair of its natural oils. Sebum, your hair's natural conditioner and protectant, is essential to maintaining a healthy head of hair. Too much sebum will give you greasy hair, and too little will leave your hair dry and brittle. Either extreme can wreak havoc on your scalp, causing irritation and dandruff.
Of course, shampoos have come a long way since our grandmothers and great-grandmothers first discovered it. Gentler commercial shampoos containing sulfate alternatives, and spatterings of natural additives are becoming more readily available. Many shampoo lovers have found success by choosing gentle shampoos, or simply by shampooing their hair less frequently.
If you love shampoo, more power to you. Keep on rocking that bottle, but if there is one thing I've learned in my years as a natural beauty blogger it's that no two people are exactly alike. If you are struggling with frizz, breakage, an irritated scalp, or hair that is excessively oily or dry, you might want to try something new.
Shampoo Bars are a great gateway product into all-natural hair care. Natural soap helps clean your hair without stripping it of its natural sebum. Well-made bars will also work to condition your hair with moisturizing oils and butters. Because soap can leave behind excess residue, it's important to pair your shampoo bar with a vinegar rinse. A simple rinse can be made by combining 2 tablespoons of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 cup of water. Or, check a more advanced recipe, like our Herbal Hair Rinse, Rosemary Walnut Hair Rinse, or Ayurvedic Hair Rinse.
Our favorite shampoo bars are made from natural ingredients using a cold-process soap making method. Look for cold processed shampoo bars at your local natural food store or farm market, or online through artisan boutiques. Beauty by the Batch features several artisans that offer great shampoo bars. You can also make your own Shampoo Bars in just the same way that you would make any cold-processed bar soap. Just choose shampoo bar ingredients that will benefit your hair type.
The Low-Poo Method
Simply reducing the frequency of your hair-washing routine can help to alleviate many common hair and scalp problems. The Low-Poo Method suggests limiting your shampoos to about twice per week, and using just a tiny bit of shampoo and conditioner during each wash. The idea is to give your scalp plenty of time to recuperate between washings. If you are used to washing your hair more frequently, it may take some time for your scalp to adjust to the new routine. It could take up to a month for your scalp to even out, so be prepared for some bad hair days while your scalp learns to produce a well-balanced amount of sebum.
The No-Poo MethodGiving up shampoo all-together might seem like an extreme idea, but recently the No-Poo movement has been gaining serious steam. There are a few different methods for going "No-Poo", but each one operates under the theory that your scalp will begin to self-regulate its sebum production once it has been given a chance to reset. The adjustment period for these methods can be long and grueling, but No-Poo users who've made it past the initial 6-8 week start-up tend to love the results.
The Baking Soda Method uses a baking soda and water solution to wash the hair, along with an Apple Cider Vinegar rise. The Dry Method uses a dry shampoo formula to cleanse and condition the hair, while the Pure Water Method uses nothing but water to rinse the hair and scalp. You can learn more about each of these methods in the following blog posts:
Baking Soda Method
- No Poo to You Too |Crunchy Betty
- I STILL Don't Use Shampoo | Living Another Language
- Life After Shampoo | Mary Makes Pretty (This is my own No-Poo story, published on my personal blog)
The Dry Method
- DIY Dry Shampoo for Light & Dark Hair | Wellness Mama
- Make Your Own Dry Shampoo | Little House Living
- Homemade Dry Shampoo | Sincerely Kinsey
The Pure Water Method