My Quest To Eliminate Chemical Contaminants From My Hair Care Products
As a working chef I need to be clean and as free from loose hair and flaky skin as possible every single day on the job. For most of my life I showered and shampooed/conditioned my hair every morning before work. Several years ago my scalp started to become itchy/flaky and my hair oily nearly every afternoon. I tried different shampoos and hair conditioners and even rotating daily through three different brands. The situation would improve temporarily and then return.
I researched shampoo and hair conditioner to find out if there was a specific type to solve my problem. What I discovered was a vast array of very scary chemicals that I really did not want in contact with my skin. Many of the chemicals used in almost all commercial shampoo and conditioner are identical or closely related to those used in automobile antifreeze, as industrial detergents and de-greasers, as foaming agents and high-temperature viscosity stabilizers and other such uses. There were also many artificial colors and scents that I would not eat as food and also did not want to absorb through my skin.
Natural Hair Care For Better Health
This brought about my discovery of the “no poo” movement. I had never heard of it before, but from the on-line information I found it seems to have been around for quite some time and be growing quickly. “No poo” is all about hair care using natural products instead of commercial shampoos and conditioners full of chemicals with questionable effects on our health. I decided to give it a try and give up all store-bought shampoo and conditioner for a four month trial period.
I decided to try one of the most popular methods: removing superficial oil and dirt with a baking soda/water solution and conditioning with a vinegar/water solution. The chemistry made sense to me. Most of the natural oils our bodies produce are for protection from the elements, are produced proportionally to perceived need and are slightly acidic. Baking soda is alkali, diluting it with water makes it less so and so it should be able to remove surface oils from skin and hair without totally stripping it the way most shampoos do. Well diluted vinegar is slightly acidic and should return skin and hair to a natural pH balance.
Putting “No Poo” Into Action
My first shower using this method resulted in hair that felt thick and stiff after the baking soda but very soft and silky after the vinegar. I heeded warnings about proper dilution and use approximately 1 tablespoon of soda or vinegar in 1 1/2 cups of water using a small plastic storage container(I am not a fan of plastic but can’t bring myself to use glass in the shower). I loved it. For the first two weeks I had to use the soda/vinegar wash every other day with plain water rinses in between. As the weeks went by my scalp produced less oil, stopped flaking and the itching disappeared. By the two month mark I was using the soda and vinegar only twice each week. Now, after nearly two years, I use the soda/vinegar every 5-6 days and water rinse the rest of the time.
My hair stays more manageable than it ever was before. My scalp does not itch or flake. My comb does not build up oil deposits between the teeth the way it always did before, even right after shampooing. The barber has noticed no difference and usually comments on how healthy my hair looks. And there are no artificial or industrial chemicals on my skin and being inhaled in the shower every day.
What Am I Avoiding?
The following are just some of the chemicals found in almost every commercial shampoo and hair conditioner. Click on each chemical to link to more information.