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Giving up shampoo really did give me a head start

By Susan Elkin

I haven't shampooed my hair since 2011. It isn't greasy. It doesn't smell. It has more body than it used to and I'm really happy with the way it looks. Moreover, I've saved a stack of money on shampoo and appointments at the hairdressers.

Instead, I rinse it quickly with water and rub it briefly with my fingers to get rid of sweat, dust and flaky bits. It takes all of two minutes. I then towel it, comb it into shape and leave it to dry naturally. Between rinses I brush it thoroughly with a soft-ish hairbrush which helps to distribute the natural oils and keeps it nicely conditioned.

Since I went public on this lifestyle change, I have been castigated for being an old woman with filthy habits but also praised for my 'courage' or thanked for inspiring one commenter to throw away their shampoo bottles and give detergent-free hair a go.

The thinking behind shunning shampoo is this. The human scalp secretes sebum, a natural oil which keeps it healthy. If you aggressively wash this off regularly with shampoo, the glands seem to go into a frenzy and produce more. That leads to the dreaded greasy look to which the normal response it to reach for the shampoo bottle and wash it straight off, in many cases, every day. And because freshly washed hair is very soft and unmanageable, conditioner, mousse, wax or gel are needed, all of which attract dust which soon has to be shampooed off. It's a vicious circle. And because so many people are trapped in it, the manufacturers make masses of money.

My experience is that, with determination you can, if you want to, break out of the circle. And I'm not alone in this – there's a strong 'no-poo' movement both here and in the US of people rejoicing in the lack of chemicals they're putting in and on to their bodies.

If you've shampooed your hair all your life, then, obviously, it will be greasy again soon after you've washed it.

The trick is to brush like mad and hang on to your resolve. It took about a week for my (short) hair to settle down, regulate itself and stop looking greasy. It would probably take a little longer for long hair. After that, you can just stick to water and your hair will stay fresh-looking.

Shampoo is, I contend, an option, like perfume. Nobody needs it, but if people want to spend a lot of money on hair products then that is their personal choice. But as for saying that hair is dirty because some people choose not to use shampoo, it's time to wash that idea right out of our hair.

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