Is it necessary to wash your hair with shampoo?
Washing hair without shampoo: According to the supporters of the shampoo-free 'nopoo' movement, shampoo is not the solution, but the cause of dull, lifeless, frizzy or greasy hair. 'Substances that affect the endocrine system are never approved.'
If you believe the Instagram photos and Tiktok videos of the nopoo movement, your hair will be healthier than ever by leaving shampoo. Instead, you can condition your hair with egg yolk, green tea, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, or other kitchen remedies. The exact size of this movement is unknown, but their influence is great. The American market researcher Fortune Business Insights suspects that it has an effect on worldwide shampoo sales. The market researcher also notes an emergence of alternative shampoos that market themselves with terms such as 'sulfate-free or silicone-free'.
Sulfates and silicones
Sulfates and silicones are in almost every 'normal' shampoo. Until now, few people paid attention to this, but the nopoo'ers declare these substances to be the aggressive enemy of the hair. They would disrupt sebum production, so that we produce more sebum and end up in a vicious circle in which you have to wash your hair more and more often.
According to chemist Heleen Kibbelaar of the University of Amsterdam, this is nonsense. "None of these ingredients can penetrate your scalp to the extent that they affect your sebum production and secretion. This is mainly hormonal and can fluctuate a bit over your life, but shampoo has no effect on it. Substances that do affect the hormone balance, would never be approved in the strict European cosmetics regulations.”
Too much washing
Sulfates are surface cleaners that remove oil, such as sebum, and dirt from your scalp. And fortunately, because that's exactly what you want, says Kibbelaar. "Although sebum protects our scalp and part of our hair, it also attracts all kinds of dirt that you don't want there. Residues of hair products and other dirt from our daily lives accumulate in the sebum. This leads to irritation for some people. A new layer of sebum soon forms on the clean scalp in exactly the same amount.”
With hair strands, it's a different story. When washing, lipids - the oils naturally present in hair that protect hair lengths - can disappear, says Coen Gho, a doctor and researcher at the Hair Science Clinic. "If you wash your hair daily, 8-inch locks will end up with about 700 shampoos, each time miniscule lipids disappearing. Since hair is dead material, you don't get those lipids back, and your hair can split or break."
Kibbelaar: "This is why shampoos always contain conditioning ingredients such as silicones, which put a protective layer over your hair. You can also apply a protective oil before washing. But the best thing is to wash your hair as little as possible and only shampoo on your scalp to apply." Gho adds: "Washing your hair twice a week is enough to keep your scalp clean."
According to chemist Kibbelaar, all common shampoo ingredients have been examined countless times and passed the strictest possible tests to show that they are safe and do what they say. This does not mean that all substances are good for everyone. According to Gho, about one in a hundred people is hypersensitive to certain ingredients. Hans van Montfort, doctor and researcher at Van Montfort Laboratories for hair biology, also sees this in his practice. "Hypersensitivity can lead to small inflammations on the scalp. A troubled scalp can be a cause of hair loss, although stress, hormonal fluctuations and aging of the scalp have a much greater influence on this."
Washing the hair without shampoo is rarely a solution for this. "If you suffer from a troubled scalp, you better try milder cleansers," says Van Montfort. According to Kibbelaar, this is often not even necessary: "You can look for an alternative for all ingredients, but those alternatives are not necessarily better. Ultimately, it's all about the formula of the shampoo, with one ingredient you can soften the other."
There isn't one perfect method or shampoo for everyone, says Van Montfort. "Everyone has a different scalp and what works for one definitely won't work for another." He advises trying a new remedy for a few weeks and if it doesn't work, try something else. "But don't mess around with kitchen remedies. They often have a much higher or lower pH value and that is precisely what can affect the scalp and hair."
Elicious has choice of several good shampoo bars. Definitely worth trying!
This blog contains the original text of an article written for De Volkskrant by Helen van Lier. She has given us permission to use it.
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