A Green and Healthy Beauty Secret: Going Shampoo-Free

Author: Mallory Bouchard

Going shampoo-free is a healthy and economical alternative to chemical laden commercial shampoo and can be done with products you most likely already have in your home! A little known beauty secret that is an emerging trend is switching to a baking soda water wash to replace shampoo and an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse to replace conditioner. This is a low-cost, simple, chemical-free and eco-friendly method.

The key to success is finding the correct proportions of baking soda and ACV for your hair. Slowly weaning yourself off of the shampoo and into a baking soda wash will leave your hair soft, smooth, clean and healthy (This is also a great for parents who are concerned with keeping their children out of contact with chemicals and toxins).

Why go shampoo-free?

  1. Shampoo is a detergent
    Just like laundry or dishwasher detergents, shampoo strips away all the dirt, but also strips away the good stuff – the natural oils, such as sebum, your scalp produces to protect and nourish your hair. Each time you wash your hair with shampoo, the natural oils that keep it healthy, soft and strong are removed. Shampoo is a harsh detergent that damages hair, and conditioner was introduced to replenish your natural oils stripped by the shampoo. This is why after a day or two without washing your hair it tends to look quite greasy. By stripping the sebum continuously, you actually produce more of it. Your scalp is overcompensating oil production because you are continuously removing it and the oils in the conditioner do not last long enough.
  2. Shampoo contains many chemicals
    Shampoo commonly contains mineral oil, which is a by-product of petroleum based products (like gasoline) from crude oil. This oil acts to add shine to your hair by coating the strands in a layer of oil. Skin is a porous media; however, the mineral oil cannot be absorbed into the skin. Instead, it acts as a barrier to the skin, not allowing toxins and oils to be expelled naturally from your body. Mineral oil makes your hair weak and more susceptible to damage.
    Often the second or third ingredient found in shampoo are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLFS). SLS and SLFS are both foaming agents that are eye and skin irritants. When SLS is absorbed into the skin, it can mimic the hormone estrogen. Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MIT) has been found to attack the nervous system and may contribute to developing Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Glycols found in shampoos can be absorbed by the skin which can weaken protein and cellular structure and can also act as a barrier to moisture escaping from your scalp.
    These are just a few of the chemicals found in shampoo (and other cosmetics!), it is best to read the label and educate yourself on what you are bathing your head in. Going shampoo free will eliminate the chemicals from ever touching your head. It is important to remember that these chemicals not only harm our hair, but also get washed down the drain and into the environment causing harm to fish and ecosystems.
  3. Shampoo can be expensive.
    Using shampoo turns into a vicious cycle in which you most likely need other products to manage your hair. You may likely be spending $100 just to manage your hair in one year using commercial shampoo and other products. Using the baking soda and ACV method, you probably will not spend more than $10 for the year. A box of baking soda can be purchased for under $4 and a bottle of ACV for under $5. These will likely last at least one year.

How to go shampoo-free

What you will need:
• Baking soda
• Water
• Apple cider vinegar
• Optional: Essential oils (to hide the vinegar smell)

Steps to going shampoo-free:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda into 1 cup of warm water.* Pour into a squeeze bottle or old shampoo bottle.
  2. Massage the mixture directly onto your scalp, using your fingertips to gently scrub and work the mixture evenly over your scalp.
  3. Let it sit for a minute or two before thoroughly rinsing. It is best to use cooler water to rinse.
  4. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to mask the smell of the vinegar. Pour the mixture into a glass bottle.
  5. Pour the apple cider vinegar mixture over your hair, starting with the ends and working throughout the hair.
  6. Let it sit for a minute or two before thoroughly rinsing. It is best to use cooler water to rinse.
  • For those with thicker or curly hair, a bit more baking soda might be needed. Those with thin or fine hair might need less. Adjustments can be made accordingly.

Going off shampoo will be rewarding, but, be warned: there may be a transition period in which your scalp is re-adjusting to producing oils and going through commercial shampoo withdrawal. Going ’poo-free means that your hair is no longer stripped of its natural oils on a daily basis and will have to adjust to producing less oil and will take some time to find the right balance.

To reduce greasiness during the transition period, it is best to slowly wean yourself off of shampoo and slowly start the baking soda and ACV. Each time you wash your hair, use less and less shampoo. Another way is to use the shampoo less often, using it only once every two or three times you shower.

Once you are at this point, you are ready to move into the baking soda water wash and ACV rinse. You need to be carefully observing how your scalp is responding to the treatments and adjust your daily routine accordingly. For some the transition period may less than 1 week and others it could take a couple months; it all depends on how dependent your hair is on commercial products to begin with.

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