I’ve been working on tackling number 3 on the LIST for the last three weeks. That’s right…I haven’t used shampoo in three weeks. You might say…ew. But it’s not so bad. I am a long bath/shower taker and have wasted lots and lots of time reading and re-reading labels on shampoos, conditioners, face washes, and body gels and they all seem to start with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. So years ago I googled it and found out how bad it can be for your body. Now I’m finally doing something about it. Also, my head is always itchy. That’s it. I’ve gone no ‘poo.
Why does this matter? (Information taken from http://www.natural-health-information-centre.com)
Both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its buddy Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. Both chemicals are foaming agents, or surfactants. It’s what makes that wonderful lather that we’re so used to.
SLES is often contaminated with dioxane, which is a known carcinogen. While it is somewhat less irritating than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it cannot be metabolized by the liver which makes its impact much longer-lasting.
A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called “highly irritating and dangerous”.
Shampoos are among the most frequently reported products to the FDA. Reports include eye irritation, scalp irritation, tangled hair, swelling of the hands, face and arms and split and fuzzy hair. The main cause of these problems is sodium lauryl sulfate.
Why go no ‘poo?
From what I’ve read, shampoos with SLS and SLES unnaturally strip your hair of oils so your head overcompensates by producing more. This makes sense to me. It also seems weird to me that I’d use the same chemical to wash my car as I would to wash my hair. There’s got to be a happy medium. I don’t want to be nasty smelly grease head, but I don’t want to use this stuff too much either.
What do I need to do?
There are a few options. I could buy natural shampoos and conditioners without SLS/SLES and use those. I could just cut back the frequency of shampooing and limit my exposure. Or I could just go cold turkey and stop using shampoo. Google either ‘no shampoo’ or ‘no ‘poo’ and you’ll get all kinds of good info. A friend of mine went no ‘poo and stopped using shampoo and only uses conditioner. She recommended a brand at Trader Joe’s that is free of SLS/SES. I’ve decided to go cold turkey and just stop shampooing and conditioning with commercial products.
For the first two weeks, I started by massaging my scalp under water. Then I took a couple tablespoons of baking soda, added water and make a paste out of it. I’ve read that a ratio of 1 Tbs to 1 cup water works well. I’m not that precise – I just threw it all together. I rubbed the paste all over my scalp and let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse the heck out of it. I really only applied the baking soda to my scalp and don’t mess with the roots. The first couple times I then dipped the ends of my hair in lemon juice – it’s supposed to serve as a conditioner and detangler. Since I left the lemon juice in the bathtub, however it went bad (I know – I’m an idiot and that’s gross) and now I’m using apple cider vinegar instead.
How’s THAT working for ya?
I went a full two and a half weeks of not shampoing my hair. I did shampoo my hair with a natural shampoo (no SLS or SLES) once because I was attending my cousin’s wedding and just didn’t want to risk looking like a weirdo. From the research I did, I knew to expect my hair to go through a period where it would just produce a ton of sebum as it tried to regulate its own oil production. My hair wasn’t greasy but for a few days it was weird. One night I had washed my hair and by the next morning, there was a big patch that just felt…dirty. Not necessarily oily but not right either. So how does my hair look now? I have mixed feelings. On the day I use the baking soda, it feels a little dry and a bit frizzy and it seems like there are a lot of tangles, which isn’t cool because I’m still losing tons of hair post partum. On day two the bottom looks decent but the roots still seem to be adjusting. It is nice and soft, though. Here’s a picture (isn’t my baby cute?!?)
You’ll notice it’s a little on the frizzy side, which I don’t love, but in general looks ok. I’ve always been lucky enough to have good hair so I feel like it’s high time I treated it right. But my head is still itchy unfortunately. For now I’m going to stick with it. We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep you posted. Anyone else have experience with this?