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Hair washing without commercial shampoo

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Hair washing without commercial shampoo, sometimes called no poo,[1][2] includes water-only hair washing or hair washing with non-commercial products, such as baking soda and vinegar. Advocates argue that commercial shampoo is an unnecessary expense and may contain harmful ingredients.


Synthetic shampoos were introduced in the 1930s.[3] Daily shampooing became the norm in the US in the 1970s and 1980s,[2] but hair washing is determined by cultural norms and individual preferences, with some people washing daily, some fortnightly, and some not at all.[4] From a clinical point of view, "the main purpose for a shampoo is to cleanse the scalp", not to "beautify the hair".[5]

Proponents of hair washing without shampoo believe that commercial products are unnecessary, and therefore an unnecessary expense.[1][6] Following a 2007 radio interview with Matthew Parris (a Times columnist "who hadn't shampooed for more than a decade"), Australian radio presenter Richard Glover challenged his audience to try going without shampoo for six weeks. 86 percent of more than 500 participants reported that "their hair was either better or the same" following the challenge.[7]

Some proponents argue that by removing the natural oils (sebum) produced by the scalp, commercial shampoo creates a vicious circle of increased oil production and more frequent hair washing,[2][8] which can take up to six weeks to break.[1][2] Other proponents avoid shampoos because they believe some of the ingredients to be harmful. Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate can be irritants;[9][10] sulfate-free shampoos are also marketed based on this concern.[11] There are also pollution concerns with the fungicides in dandruff shampoo.[12][13]


The purest form of shampoo avoidance is to use only water to wash hair.[6] Alternatively, the hair can be washed with baking soda, followed by an acidic rinse such as diluted apple vinegar.[1][2][8][14] Essential oils can be used to give the hair a pleasant aroma.[1] Japanese traditional hair cleansing is with seaweed powder.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Goldstone, Penny (May 22, 2020). "I've been trying the no poo method during the lockdown". Marie Claire.
  2. ^ a b c d e Dahl, Melissa (April 23, 2009). "Ditching shampoo a dirty little beauty secret". NBC News. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  3. ^ "From Pert: Do You Wash and Go?". Company Science Behind the Brands. Procter and Gamble. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  4. ^ Marsh, Jennifer; John Gray; Antonella Tosti (2015). "Cosmetic Products and Hair Health". Healthy Hair. Springer. p. 117. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-18386-2_7. ISBN 978-3-319-18385-5..
  5. ^ Draelos, Zoe Diana (2008). "Hair Cosmetics". In Blume-Peytavi, Ulrike; Antonella Tosti; Ralph M. Trüeb (eds.). Hair Growth and Disorders. Springer. p. 500. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-46911-7_25.
  6. ^ a b Middlewood, Erin (April 12, 2009). "A clean break from shampoo". The Columbian. Vancouver, Washington. Archived from the original on March 28, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  7. ^ Grossman, Anna Jane (February 21, 2008). "Of Course I Washed My Hair Last Year (I'm Almost Certain)". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Aubrey, Allison (March 19, 2009). "When It Comes To Shampoo, Less Is More". NPR. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  9. ^ Marrakchi, S.; Maibach, H. I. (2006). "Sodium lauryl sulfate-induced irritation in the human face: Regional and age-related differences". Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. 19 (3): 177–80. doi:10.1159/000093112. PMID 16679819. S2CID 35890797.
  10. ^ "7 Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate". International Journal of Toxicology. 2 (7): 127–181. December 1983. doi:10.3109/10915818309142005. ISSN 1091-5818. S2CID 34123578.
  11. ^ Saint Louis, Catherine (September 29, 2010). "Sulfate-Free Products Have Some in a Lather". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2022.
  12. ^ Biello, David. "Scientific American: dandruff shampoos mess up the water". Scientific American.
  13. ^ Hair Care Products
  14. ^ "Apple Cider Vinegar Uses, Benefits, Claims". WebMD.