If you’ve never heard of “no-poo”, or don’t have any “hippie” friends (I use the word merely for the sake of brevity, sorry if it offends anyone!), then you might not immediately clue into how I managed to save money on shampoo. No, it’s not a coupon exploitation strategy, nor am I exploiting some loophole in the shoppers drugmart loyalty program.
The solution is much simpler. I just stopped using it.
It started when I saw my friend do it, and when I read about the theory behind it, I thought it made a lot of sense and would be one less product to have to buy all the time! The basic idea behind shampoo is to cleanse your hair of dirt and grease with a surfactant, but the problem with how most shampoos work is that they also end up nuking your hair’s natural oils out of existence and your sebaeceous glands freak out and work overtime to replace it. So you end up with a vicious cycle of too much grease being produced , then removing too much grease to cope. Supposedly. And apparently your scalp is naturally able to keep itself well moisturized (I can’t confirm that it keeps itself clean though).
So why do we shampoo in the first place, if our scalp can take care of itself? Is this actually all a myth?
I started with a simple Wikipedia search, with my research likely to end there (typical college level essay here). Interestingly enough, a land that is often reviled for its low hygienic standards was the land from whence it came to western English speakers. Straight out of India, a Bengali, along with his Irish wife, started a bathing company where you would get a helping of champi (a Hindi word). Which you can tell was where the word shampoo came from. Eventually, other people started making things like boiled soap shavings with herbs; liquid shampoo would arrive thanks to an intelligent young German in 1927. The act of shampooing would become mainstream stateside in the 70s and 80s. So, a fairly recent phenomenon. However, this does not mean that we haven’t been cleaning and washing our hair until shampoo was invented.
Turns out, once your sebaceous glands get themselves sorted out, you can wash your hair just fine with water or baking soda (yea baking soda, it works!). It generally takes a while to get to that point, and everyone is different, so your mileage will vary. For me, it took about two months, with one month spent half-assing it by not washing my hair that much and then sometimes using shampoo. No lie, my hair was a mess. Especially since I kept it long. The second month I ended up not bringing any shampoo with me on my month long trip to Asia, and only used conditioner. Before I knew it my hair just suddenly turned normal: I didn’t need shampoo, just a comb and water (you comb your hair to spread your naturally occurring sebum across your hair). And I tried using baking soda, and my hair was magically soft. It made no sense, but I save so much money by not having to buy shampoo now. Just baking soda, and conditioner every now and then. I should try not using conditioner either.
If you look into no-poo, you’ll find some interesting stories. One dermatologist had a bunch of prisoners not shampoo for a month, with many of them reporting that their hair was fine and none of them had dandruff. An Australian radio talk show host asked his audience to try going shampoo-less for 6 weeks, and 86% of the 500 participants found that their hair was either better or the same (from a Wikipedia article on no-poo. Yea I was lazy).
This is just some food for thought, but after this, I really can’t help but think of shampoo as another one of those cases where everyone on the planet has been hoodwinked by clever CPG marketers. Just think about how much you spend on shampoo. It’s a brilliant ploy.