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Shampoo Or No-Poo

By Iain Sallis, trichologist at Farjo Hair Institute

Recently, I’ve been hearing the phrase ‘no-poo’ being used to describe a method involving washing hair in water only. I have been extremely surprised to read that the majority of those deciding to exile their Elvive have reported good results.

Shampoo is a very clever detergent. It has a water loving element and an oil loving element, so it attaches to the grease with one ingredient and gets removed with another when you rinse!

Shampoos are relatively mild detergents and it’s very rare that they cause reactions, as they are not on the scalp for very long and are dispersed in water almost immediately. Chemically, they are slightly more acidic than usual products for the body, as this helps the cuticles close and makes the hair shiny. Without these chemicals though, hair will quickly become greasy, dull and lifeless – just like your body, hair cannot clean itself.

When people try the ‘no-poo’ method, they feel the hair texture change. Initially it’s worse, but it improves as after a few weeks as the scalp’s PH balance normalises. The hair may feel softer and healthier in comparison to previous weeks, but it’s still usually lanker than when shampoo was used, due to the increase of oils present. Many believe that natural oil is beneficial to the hair, which it is. However the ingredients in conditioner are very similar to the lipids naturally produced by the scalp.

As hair is a non-living fibre, it’s more similar to a piece of clothing than a body part, and using products such as shampoo and conditioner won’t harm it. If you’re going to give up shampoo due to being worried about damaging your hair, you may as well stop washing your clothes too!

That said, you’re not going to damage your hair or scalp by adopting the ‘no-poo’ method. I would advise that if your scalp becomes sensitive, itchy or flaky due to the lack of shampooing, revert back to shampooing – some peoples’ skin just needs a proper clean (with shampoo) to feel healthy!

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