The no poo movement has been gaining popularity in certain circles for some years now. But what is it, and is it really better not to use shampoo?
The concept of no poo is actually pretty simple: it involves washing your hair without using shampoo.
Advocates of no poo claim that modern shampoos do more harm than good, and so have searched for other ways of cleaning their hair.
There are as many different forms of no poo washing as there are shampoo brands, including:
using nothing more than water
using baking soda in place of shampoo and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner
complicated home remedy concoctions like rye flour, eggs and even clays
Effectively, the idea is to either use no product at all, or to use a product that is thought to be gentler than a regular shampoo.
Why do people go no poo?
There are a lot of reasons that people decide to go no poo, but the reason most often given is skepticism about chemicals.
Some people worry about why shampoos have so many ingredients, and whether they’ll be harmful to their health.
Others claim that chemicals found in shampoos are ineffective for cleaning.
Are too many ingredients bad?
In reality, each ingredient in a modern shampoo has an important job. Some jobs are obvious- like helping the shampoo lather and cleanse and keeping your hair soft and manageable.
Other hard-working ingredients perfect the shampoo’s texture and spreading, protect it from contamination and keep your scalp and hair healthy.
All these combine to make the best possible washing experience for you.
Does shampoo make hair greasy?
It’s true that cleansers in shampoos remove excess oils (sebum) that are produced by our scalps.
Some no poo advocates worry that shampoos strip away all the natural oils. They believe this dries out the hair and scalp, possibly triggers the scalp to overproduce oil to compensate.
The argument goes that this effect creates a ‘vicious cycle’ that forces shampoo users to wash their hair more often.
The truth however, is that your body produces oils at a pretty constant rate - no matter how frequently or infrequently you shampoo.
The problem with no poo
It turns out, using popular no poo options might actually harm your hair and scalp health. An even slightly critical look at the no poo movement brings all sorts of problems with its practice and the logic behind it.
Modern shampoos are designed to clean away scalp oils and dirt, without stripping natural moisture.
The fact is, it’s very important for scalp and hair health to regularly remove excess oil.
No poo routines that don’t clean adequately can actually make your scalp irritated.
Oil that builds up on the scalp changes and becomes oxidized- breaking down into substances that not only smell bad but may also make your scalp itchy or flaky.
Can you switch to baking soda instead of shampoo?
One of the most popular no poo methods has another glaring problem: baking soda can actively harm your scalp and hair.
Being strongly alkaline, it could upset your natural pH balance, causing damage over time.
Likewise, remedies like eggs and clay are also ineffective at properly cleaning hair, and they’ve never been proven to work on scalp issues like dandruff, itch or dryness.
See our test: Natural Remedies vs Head & Shoulders shampoo
So, don’t listen to the hype – the best way to keep your hair clean and scalp healthy is still a good shampoo and conditioner.