Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going Shampoo Free

I have decided to go Shampoo Free. I tried to go soap free on my face for about 6 weeks at the beginning of summer and I wasn't impressed. I want to keep wearing make-up for now so I have decided to try forgoing shampoo this time instead.

Why go shampoo free?

A. We are trying to get to a point where we don't put things on our bodies that can't go in our mouths (we'll see if we get there). Shampoos are made of chemicals and I would like to avoid placing them on my body once a day. I took a look at the ingredients on my shampoo and used my handy dandy Google option and looked up all of the chemicals. While I was doing this I came across an article on the National Geographic Website called "The Dirty Dozen Chemicals in Cosmetics" by Catherine Zandonella.

Of the ingredients she listed, several were in my bottle:

4. 1,4-Dioxane
1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms "PEG," "-xynol," "ceteareth," "oleth" and most other ethoxylated "eth" ingredients. The FDA monitors products for the contaminant but has not yet recommended an exposure limit. Manufacturers can remove dioxane through a process called vacuum stripping, but a small amount usually remains. A 2007 survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most children's bath products contain 10 parts per million or less, but an earlier 2001 survey by the FDA found levels in excess of 85 parts per million.

6. Fragrance
The catchall term "fragrance" may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.

9. Parabens
(methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butyl paraben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned in cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.

While all of this is scary to read, I do understand that the argument is that people have limited exposure (5 minutes or so) and that there is not evidence linking this amount of contact to the toxicity listed above. However, I imagine that repeated exposure could be dangerous and since there is not much research to show that it is safe, I have decided it makes sense to try to avoid it.

B. The other reason I am going shampoo free is because it is better for my hair. After doing much reading, it seems like shampoo and conditioner and hairspray are "domino interventions"! Hair produces a compound called sebum which makes the hair shiny. Too much sebum makes the hair look oily. Shampoo strips the hair of sebum. However, it does it too well and leaves the hair dry. Conditioner creates an artifical sebum and then the hair looks healthy again. Throughout this, a person's scalp begins to over-produce more sebum to replace the old sebum and the hair gets oily etc. It becomes a vicious cycle until a person needs to shampoo everyday. Going shampoo free is supposed to allow the scalp to "reset" so that it produces the correct amount of sebum and is supposed to make my hair healthy and beautiful. :)

C. I hope it will end up being cheaper. I don't spend a fortune on hair products but it adds up. I would love to be able to skip another aisle at the grocery store (we already get to skip baby food, diapers, formula, feminine hygiene, and cleaning supplies).

D. I am hoping it will make my hair pretty. This one is very vain but true nonetheless.

I am armed with how-to materials:

This is what my hair looks like with shampoo, conditioner, mousse, and hairspray.

I made a wash of water and baking soda and put it in an old water bottle. I used 2 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. I am getting conflicting suggestions on this so we will see how this goes and I will add more baking soda to the mix if I need to. I plan to use this every 3-4 days to start off with.

I also made a rinse of Apple Cider Vinegar and water in an old shampoo bottle. I used 1 tablespoon ACV with one cup of water. I added 5 drops of peppermint essential oil to make it smell nice. I plan to use this once a week.

I want to have a nice control picture so next I will post pictures of my hair with shampoo and conditioner with no hairspray. Then I start no shampoo!


  1. I found the articles interesting, and I will be curious what your experience is. It occurs to me that if shampoo is carcinogenic, people who shampoo hair for a living should have higher cancer rates than other people. Also, for the ants, have you tried that chalk stuff? I'm misspelling this, but it's called diatemacious earth and it's all natural. It slices up their exoskeletons on a microscopic level.

  2. So what do you use for fem. hygiene? What is out there that is natural?

  3. @Bitter: You can use MamaCloth or sea sponge tampons or a Diva Cup.

    @Mrsodie: That is interesting. I know my shampoo girl wears gloves though. It doesn't look like it has ever been studied.