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Monday, July 25, 2011

Much ado About Shampoo

washing-hair

Why Shampoo?

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
    • Soapnuts
    • 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.
Now it is your turn.
How do you clean your hair?
What method(s) have you tried? I would love to hear about your experiences.

14 comments:

Gaby @ Tmuffin.com said...

Ooh--apple cider spray is a great idea! I have tried a lotof things. I have dandruff with regular shampoo and even more whwn I use totally natural shampoos (I think they are too oily. Same with castile soap.) I get the best results from baking soda/cider vinegar method but never tried soapnuts or herbal tea. I want to try cocoa powder as a dry shampoo!!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Gaby, I tried the cocoa powder today, and loved it. Should have bought more when I was at the store though. The cocoa powder gave my hair a nice red tint. It too my natural summer highlights and tinted them a little red for me. I loved it. True temporary, natural hair coloring that smell sooo good.

Elle said...

Ouch that is scary. I'm glad I don't wash my hair that often. It is too long and too much trouble to do it daily...takes forever to dry even with a blower and I hates the blower, I hates it! I hates it forever!

I'm going to have to try that apple cider vinegar...I'm already using it for GERD..might as well be useful for something else too.

Following from Not so Moody Mondy.

Simple Wyrdings

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Elle, you are soo much better off not washing your hair daily. And as for hair dryers, I am not a fan either. I would love to hear your apple cider vinegar for GERD, I was diagnosed with a little over a year ago.

Barefeet In The Kitchen said...

I tried no-shampoo for a couple weeks a while back and I simply couldn't do it. I only wash a couple times a week now and I do occasionally rinse with water in-between times.

I found an organic shampoo at Trader Joe's. IT is free of all the chemicals you listed above and the price is excellent. I was considering some crazy expensive chemical free options before I found this one. YAY!

Here is the ingredient list:
Shampoo Ingredients: Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willow bark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomile flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit, C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Tocopherol (Vit E), Citric Acid, Methylparaben, propylparaben, sea salt, botanical fragrance

Conditioner ingredients: Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willow bark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomile flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit citrus, Tocopherol (Vit E), Acetamide MEA, Cetyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, propylparaben, botanical fragrance

I realize that parabens aren't a great thing, but overall, I'm content with this choice for now. I'm no longer losing hair by the fistful with each washing and that makes me very very happy!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

@ Barefeet in The Kitchen - So glad you found something that works for you. Hair care is definitely not a one size fits all approach. Even on our own heads. I know for me something will work fine for a while then stop working and I will need to make adjustments and try something else. Coming up I will be sharing some of our experiments with hair care here at the Granola Catholic House.

Catholic Doula said...

I've been flirting with baking soda and ACV, and have tried it a few times on the weekends. It works much better than I'd ever thought it would. Problem is my hair is so curly and frizzy. If I give up shampoo and conditioner, I have to give up the serums and gels I put in it to calm it down (degreasers in the shampoo wash all the silicone stuff out). It may all balance out in the end - IDK. Any ideas?

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Catholic Doula. I have heard it takes time with the Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda method, but your hair will balance out in the end. My oldest daughter has straight hair but had curly hair as a little girl and she is getting back some of her body after only 2 weeks of ACV and Baking Soda. I notice nice big Lana Turner waves in my hair after a couple of weeks. If ACV does not work for you, you might want to try one of the other methods.

Katie said...

Great ideas. I went no poo for about a year, then I got my hair colored and started to use shampoo again. Since my hair is no longer colored I am thinking about going no poo again. It really does work after a couple of months.

Katie
http://www.glutenfreefoodstorage.net/

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Kate - Love hearing about everyone's experiences with noo-poo and other methods.

Brandislee said...

I also think it's really important to emphasize the change in culture, from washing once a week to washing every day (some people twice a day!). This was a total marketing ploy to get us to use more shampoo, meaning we would BUY more shampoo. Not only is there no need for you to wash your hair every day, but it is BAD for your hair and skin. I know exactly what you're thinking- "not me, my hair is greasier than everyone else's." I used to think the same thing. But you know what? Your hair is greasy because you wash it every day, effectively drying out your scalp and tricking it into producing more oil. The less you wash, the less greasy your hair will be. Funny how that works.

As for the actual question at hand- I use a "clean" shampoo. I have tried both shampoo bars and no-poo..., but based on my own experience (and I tried it for two months....) and on that of others, I don't think that most blondes, esp blonds with straight, thin hair, have much success with no-poo. But I can't remember what brand I use, and I don't want to get up :)

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Brandislee - I could not agree with you more. we bought the advertising that said we needed to wash our hair more often, and when we do it dries out our hair, which causes it to produce more oils, which causes us to wash it more, and so the vicious circle begins. Then we don't like our hair so we try a different shampoo that we hope will perform the magic.

janzoya said...

I use a mixture of honey and baking soda, thinned down with warm water, and then rinse with water and vinegar after. The honey-baking soda mix makes the hair so soft and clean!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Janzoya - that sounds wonderful. I might have to give the honey a try. Even though I don't blow dry and have been shampoo free for 9 months now my hair is getting frizzy with this winter weather.

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