In our quest to live a more naturally green and frugal lifestyle we have been making some changes in the products in our home. Lately we have been making some changes to how we wash our hair.
But first a quick history of shampoo. Shampoo is an Indian word, meaning to massage, as you are massaging your head as you clean it. Prior to the 20th century shampoos were not commercially available. The first ad for shampoo appeared in 1914, it was for a brand called Cantrox. Rexall, a brand name I recognize, advertised Harmony Hair Beautifier and Shampoo.
Originally, soap and shampoo were very similar products; both containing the same naturally derived surfactants, a type of detergent. Modern shampoo as it is known today was first introduced in the 1930s with Drene, the first shampoo with synthetic surfactants. But it was not until the 1970’s when a cultural change took place and it became more common for women to wash their hair more than once a week. I can remember seeing the shampoo commercials whenever we watched TV. I wanted to be a Breck Girl, but loved Herbal Essences. Even if it was a weird green color.
Flash forward another 40 years and washing our hair, for most of us, is a daily occurrence.
But before you wash your hair again, I want you to consider a few things. Most shampoos are a alphabet soup of chemicals. Do you really know what is in your shampoo? When is the last time you read the label, or considered what the ingredients are or why they are being used?
Ingredients to Watch For
Phthalates, these are used as fragrance and appear on the ingredients lists of around 70 percent of shampoos. They mimic our bodies hormones and have been linked to a list of medical problems.
Formaldehyde –it is used as a preservative and to keep bacteria from growing.
Sulfates –are know as surfactants. Surfactants give shampoos their lather, but are also drying.
Some common sulfates are
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate,
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate Ammonium
- Laureth Sulfate
- Ammonium Xylene Sulfonate
- TEA Lauryl Sulfate Sulfur (in dandruff shampoos)Selenium Sulfide (in dandruff shampoos)
What is the big deal with all these chemicals? Well, lets say you are a modern person and have decided that modern chemistry knows what it is doing and create a great product. When you use commercially prepared shampoos you dry out your scalp. When you dry out your scalp, it will over produce sebum (oil) and you hair will be oily, When you use some of these other methods your scalp will start to normalize and produce less oil. This may take some time.
Let’s say you have decided you don’t want an alphabet soup of chemicals on your head or the heads of your children. Or you are tired of buying shampoo after shampoo, not getting the results you want, essentially money down the drain. What can you do?
- Check your current shampoo against the database list on EWG see how it fairs.
- Try to find one that is lower on the scale than your current shampoo
- Consider some alternatives to using shampoo such as:
- no-poo method – baking soda and apple cider vinegar
- Castile Soap, liquid or bar
- Cornstarch or even Cocoa Powder for dark hair
- A rinse with a pint of herbal tea.
- A shampoo bar
- Mayonnaise – real mayonnaise is full of olive oil, eggs and vinegar all are great for your hair and will clean and nourish it
- Beer – this was a classic rinse back when I was a kid, and for good reason, it clears out the residue from the many products you may use.
- Water only – I don’t wash my hair everyday, but I will give it a rinse out, especially if I have been in a pool, or after working out. Sometimes I follow up the rinse out with a spray of apple cider vinegar to condition it.
How do you clean your hair?
What method(s) have you tried? I would love to hear about your experiences.