Some women eschew shampoo in favor of natural hair care
T here are women who go days, even weeks, without shampooing.
These women — part of the no-shampoo movement sweeping the country — still clean their hair, but with different products, from organic formulas to homemade mixtures.
“It makes me feel more comfortable using a homemade natural product,” says Jessica Sumego, a 25-year-old mother of two from Cranberry. “My son’s skin would often become irritated, and I wasn’t sure which product was causing it. So I now use the homemade products on both my sons.”
Sumego discovered a hair-cleaning recipe, which contains coconut oil and castile soap, on the blog Wellness Mama. When she gets her hair done at the salon, she has her stylist use only water. Sumego cleans her hair twice a week.
“I used to use a lot of products, and my hair didn’t look clean,” Sumego says. “I noticed I started brushing my hair more often now, and it looks good because I am moving the (natural) oils around.”
Allegra Battle Johnson, 35, of Munhall has been using chemical-free hair products for nearly eight years — since she was pregnant with her daughter, who is 7. Battle Johnson used to use hair relaxers, which contain a lot of chemicals.
“Since then, I have paid a lot more attention to my hair,” Battle Johnson says. “And I have noticed subtle differences in the quality of my hair. African-American hair is really fragile. And since I decided to use chemical-free products, my hair has gained strength.”
She uses organics, as well as homemade mixtures and sulfate-free shampoo.
“It definitely works,” Battle Johnson says. “I would say to do it because the benefits outweigh the negatives. What we put in and on our bodies affects our overall health. It is better for you.”
Robin Martin, 31, of Jefferson Hills agrees.
She uses sulfate-free shampoo from Aveeno, and, at times, combines baking soda with water to clean her long hair. She rinses with apple-cider vinegar.
“I was skeptical at first,” says Martin, who has been using this method for about a year. “I was worried if I rinsed my hair with vinegar it would smell, but it doesn’t. I want to live more environmentally conscious, and I noticed my hair was oily at the roots and dry at the ends. No product I was using was working, so I decided to go for it.”
She set aside a weekend to stop shampooing and started slow with a sulfate-free cleaner and experimented with the baking soda and water. Martin uses the home remedy three times a week.
“My motto is, ‘If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t use the product, ‘ ” she says. “My hair feels extremely clean.”
This no-shampoo trend is a new way of thinking, says Women’s Health magazine beauty director Molly Nover-Baker.
“I have used baking soda on my hair,” she says. “It definitely removes buildup.”
“One reason for the no-shampoo movement is that today’s consumers are more savvy in all aspects of their lives,” Nover-Baker says. “If you aren’t sure what to look for on the shampoo bottle, go for sulfate-free and paraben-free. Products with coconut oil and aloe vera are good.
“The organic market is beginning to thrive,” she says. “Ask your hairdresser what kind of product he or she is using the next time you get your hair done, or bring your own bottle, so that way you will know.”
Dry shampoos, such as the Kevin Murphy Fresh Hair, are amazing, says Carrie Barchanowicz, manager at Studio Booth, East End, and assistant to owner Ron Booth. Those dry shampoos have a nice baby-powder-like scent, and clean and freshen.
Products are so much better than they were, says Barchanowicz, a curly-haired redhead who washes her hair once a week.
“We are always researching and looking for the best products that use natural ingredients, because those will keep hair cleaner,” Barchanowicz says. “For those with thin hair, they tend to put their hands through their hair more often, which can add more dirt or cause them to feel like the hair is oily. We sometimes feel like if we don’t see lots of bubbles, then our hair isn’t clean.”
Dr. Audrey Guskey, professor of marketing at Duquesne University and a consumer-trends expert, says when she first heard about the no-shampoo trend, “it sounded bizarre and very dramatic.
“Yet, in reality, a lot of what we are doing is going back to nature,” she says. “We are eating more natural products and shopping at farmers markets and avoiding gluten, so using more natural products for skin and hair care are certainly part of that movement. A lot of products are not good for your skin or hair, so it makes sense to use natural products.”
At-home hair-care remedies have been around for some time, says Dr. Rolanda Johnson Wilkerson, principal scientist for Procter & Gamble Hair Care. But, she says, “more recently, at-home hair care solutions and the no-‘poo movement has increased in awareness. … For hair-care companies, such as P&G, this has not negatively impacted the hair-care business.”
She says Procter & Gamble has responded to the need for alternative cleansing with products that offer more than home remedies can to moisturize, protect and strengthen hair from damage. Those products include Pantene Pro-V Damage Repair Cleansing Conditioner and the Pantene Pro-V Color Preserve Cleansing Conditioner. For dry shampoos, the company offers Pantene Pro-V Root Reboot Dry Shampoo, Pantene Pro-V Original Fresh Dry Shampoo and Pantene Pro-V Blow Out Extended Dry Shampoo.
The other consideration is scalp care, Johnson Wilkerson says. “The scalp should also be cleansed and nourished on a regular basis, just as one would cleanse and nourish their skin. A dry, itchy scalp can lead to scratching,” which can, over time, cause hair damage and breakage.
“I have clients who don’t use traditional shampoo and use the organic products, such as those here at the salon, and I have others who go for a homemade recipe such as baking soda, vinegar and castor oil,” says Emily Askin, co-owner with Becky Goodwin of Tula Organic Salon and Spa in Squirrel Hill.
“Some people go to the extreme and are vigilant about any product they eat or put on their body,” Askin says. “I am a big fan of shampooing less.”
Askin recommends a shampoo diet, where an individual starts slow, such as shampooing every other day. Hair doesn’t really get physically dirty if you are sitting in an office all day.
“I say give it a try, start slow,” Askin says. “We as a culture overcleanse. We feel dirty when we are not. You wouldn’t clean a cashmere sweater every time you wear it because it is a gentle fabric. Hair is a fabric, too, and you need to be gentle with it.”
Philip Pelusi agrees.
“Hair is not a living thing, so you have to replenish it,” says the Pittsburgh-based celebrity stylist, founder of Tela Beauty Organics and P2 Performance X2 Professional Products. “And you need a healthy scalp. You need moisture for bounce and shine. It’s important to have a clean palette before adding any products to hair.”
Pelusi offers two formulas for the no-shampoo community — one organic and the other natural.
“I saw this trend coming a long time ago and have been working on organic products for years,” Pelusi says. “The problem with doing this yourself is the products you mix won’t have much of a shelf life.”
It’s still a viable choice for some to do it yourself, says Kelly Miller, owner of Be Pure Salon in Lawrenceville.
“This is certainly an option for someone who has never colored their hair and does not use any kind of damaging or drying elements on it, such as heat styling,” Miller says. “Our shampoos and conditioners are sulfate-free and do not contain any harsh detergents that strip the hair. And when used with our conditioners, the hair is pH balanced, moisturized and left shiny and nourished.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7889 or [email protected].