This week’s friend Friday is a beauty one: about the trend of going all natural by eliminating shampoos, soaps, deodorant, etc… There’s the No Shampoo movement, which appears to be quite popular with men as well as women. By pure coincidence, Katie of Interrobangs Anonymous has just posted a super-comprehensive post on the No ‘Poo approach. There’s also people who don’t shower every day and don’t use deodorant and there must be countless people out there who forsake make up and face cream, but don’t make a big fuss about it – my mum would be a perfect example.
Before I go chattering off randomly, I’m going to just answer those questions, though I am changing the order of them and combining them for a more logical flow:
Be honest, how often do you wash your own hair? Have you tried to go the more natural route by forgoing shampoo? What happened? Or would you be tempted to try it?
I wash my hair every second day, and I’ve only just started doing that (almost) 2 months ago. My hair is super greasy and I used to wash it every day for years. The reason I decided to wash less frequently (or to only wash with water on day 2) were
(1) to give me more time in the morning on the non-shampoo days
(2) to strengthen my hair, hopefully preventing split ends
(3) to make my hair go less greasy over time
(1) has definitely worked, (2) will take time, but I think (3) might be wishful thinking. As I said, I’ve been going for almost 2 months, and I don’t see any improvement. On day 2, the top 5 cms of my hair are completely greasy, and there is no way I could wear my hair down, and on day 3 my hair is properly horrible and I would not leave the house without washing it.
That being said, washing less has taught me that the world will not end if I have greasy hair and people won’t point at me and laugh, of wrinkle their noses in disgust. And it doesn’t smell either, but then we are actually only talking two days. Scraping it back (like here and here) can give quite a pleasing severe look, letting accessories shine, but if I had an important event like a job interview or a major party I would definitely wash my hair!
I do believe though that eventually the skin on the scalp will start to regulate itself and not using shampoo at all can work for some people. Apparently you need Skincare to get through about 2 weeks of greasiness before a natural balance emerges. 2 weeks might be ok for someone with naturally dry or really short hair, but I’m not willing to try it on mine, so I will never know if it would work for me.
What about that daily shower? Would you forgo that opting to shower three times a week instead?
Actually I do do something similar: I don’t use shower gel or soap on my body at all, and haven’t for the last 6 years. I do shower every day, but just use water and a sponge (and I use deodorant). This works perfectly for me. When I used to use cleaning products, my skin would get clammy easily, I would start sweating (and smelling) not long after washing, and sometimes I’d end up having two showers a day! I also had to use body lotion all the time. Now my skin regulates itself and is much less dry.
This process makes perfect sense to me. Unlike hair, which is dead, skin is a living, breathing thing that really can look after itself. This is why I think that eventually not washing one’s hair can work, because the skin on your head is much like the skin elsewhere, and if you don’t strip it of it’s layer of natural oils, it won’t overreact by producing more. It’s just that hair itself can’t regulate itself, because it’s dead cells, so any greasy hair you’ve got will stay there until you wash it or cut it off.
And I also wanted to say something about the people about the supposedly unwashed people in that article: they’re not unwashed at all! On the days the woman in the article doesn’t shower, she still washes with a cloth (and soap!). So what’s the big hoo haa? I prefer a shower because it’s so much easier, and I live in a part of the world where water is plentiful, so saving water (which as far as I can see is the only advantage of not showering) isn’t much of an issue for me, but basically the two ways of cleaning do the same job in the end.
What products do you use and have you ever gone with more organic alternatives?
Like I said, I don’t use body wash, and for my shampoo and conditioner I use Aussie. I occassionally do a Burts Bee’s hair masque, but once that runs out I won’t replace it, I’m too lazy for sitting about with stuff on wet hair for 20 minutes. For my body lotion (which I rarely need) I use Neutrogena.
I have quite difficult skin in my face, I suffer from adult acne but specialist ‘clear skin’ products dry it out too much and I do have wrinkles now. So I go more upmarket with my facial products than the cheap and cheerful body stuff: my face cleanser, eye cream and moisturiser are Boots No.7. And I love nivea creme for an occassional boost of extra moisture!
I used to use Dr. Hauschka rose cream for face moisturiser for a whole, which is organic, and was briefly famous for having been used by Madonna, but in Germany is sold in wholefood shops and not anything glamorous at all. I love the smell, but found even the light version a bit too rich for my facial skin, and too expensive for what it was, so I stopped using it. After a bit of trial and error I settled on No.7 Protect and Perfect and I couldn’t be happier. It might not be organic, but it is fragrance free, hypoallergenic and it really works for my open pores because it contains retinol. Which as far as I can see is a magical ingredient, helping with both wrinkles and spots at the same time. And you don’t get retinol in natural face creams, so I’m more than happy to use synthetically derived stuff.
I think that in general, people overstate the benefits of naturalness a bit. Just because something is natural doesn’t automatically make it ‘good’ or harmless. Sure, a lot of synthetic, ‘unnatural’ stuff can be quite harsh, but then again a lot of it is not. And some of the natural alternatives, like vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, are actually mildly corrosive. There’s a reason you can clean your toilet with them. That said, I used to do a lot of DIY beauty treatments when I was younger, like yoghurt masks, and lemon hair rinses, and I thought they worked fine.
For me, the issue is not so much about synthetic v.s natural, but more about understanding what is in your products and then chosing accordingly. Admittedly is easier to know what’s in stuff if it’s homemade, but a lot of things sold as organic have an ingredient lists just as opaque as any high tech face cream!
The move to do away with soap, shampoo and deodorant has been growing in popularity in the last year. What are your thoughts on this trend?
I think as a trend it’s really interesting, people wanting to go back to basics and live more simply, and maybe dropping out slightly of the constant process of technical advancement and the need to keep up to date with new stuff all the time. And I am sympathetic to that feeling.
I think it’s pretty obvious from my comments above that I think it can work, but don’t think it always works, or not all of it works. In researching this I found an article where they got different people to not wash their hair for 6 weeks as an experiment. The conclusion? It worked for some, and not for others. I have found some people to be quite preachy about this, so basically what I’m saying: If it works for you that’s great, but please don’t assume that it will work for everyone else because not everyone’s hair (and skin) is the same.
What do you think? I know some of you already commented on the previous post, but if not: Have you tried anything like this? Or do you think unwashed hair is revolting?
p.s. Visit Modly Chic for a round up of other people’s answers!
p.p.s. The photos are make-up free, but with washed hair!
p.p.p.s. Apologies for accidentally publishing this early yesterday!