Shampoo: To use or not to use.

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Garden and Media department volunteer Nathalie Brandebourger from Paraguay stopped using shampoo a year ago. In this article she talks about why she did, what she learnt and what she does instead.

Saying stop to shampoo.

My name is Nathalie Brandebourger, and 10 months ago, I said stop to shampoo, it’s been almost a year since I last washed my hair with that chemical cocktail known as shampoo. Why did I say STOP? I’d had enough,  I was washing my hair every day and just after one day of shampoo, my hair was greasy again. My tips were always dry, I didn’t understand why, I was spending a fortune on shampoo. I spent lots of time thinking that what I was doing was  good for my hair but instead I was destroying it little by little. Now, I have said stop, I don’t want to spend a lot of money anymore, I don’t want to destroy my hair anymore and not the planet either.20140216_140807

Why is shampoo bad for us and the planet?
Shampoo and other hair products contain nothing natural,  have a look at your shampoo bottle (not organic) and read the details of ingredients; sulfates, silicone’s, phosphates, alcohol, parabens. These ingredients are irritants, allergens, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. instead of helping are skin and hair they tend to damage it. Have you ever noticed that the more you wash your hair, the faster it seems to get dirty?

There is a reason for that, when you shampoo hair, aggressive contents in shampoos take away the sebum (the natural oil produced by the body) required to protect our scalp. In fact, thanks to shampoo, the sebum has no opportunity to be spread along the full length of our hair. So, to compensate, our body will produce much more! Say hello to oily roots and dry tips…
Shampoo, hair conditioner, protective balms, rejuvenating treatments, moisturizing oils, these products are expensive. Let’s not be fooled by brands that are sponsoring well known hairdressers. It’s a marketing strategy!
These products are bad for the environment: not only do they contain highly polluting compounds, but they are all contained in plastic. And, let’s not forget about the amount of wasted water with every shampooing.

How to start?
Stopping washing your hair does not  happen overnight, especially if you’re an anti dandruff shampoo regular that won’t go out without your washed hair. You need to be patient and try to understand your hair’s needs.
1. For addicts of the chemical foam, you need to start by spacing shampoos. This is very important: If you wash your hair every day, do it every other day; if it is twice a week, try to do it once every 5 days, etc. Wait until your washes are  well spaced (at min. 1 week) to proceed.

2. Brush your hair. You can use a boar bristle brush or a wooden brush with synthetic bristles,  brush your hair every morning for 2 to 3 minutes, from the top of the head to the tips and in every way (upside down). This is to distribute the sebum all along the lengths. I suggest washing your brush every day to remove all the little hairs stuck in and rubbing in with water and a little bit of baking soda or soap; very easy. If you have curly hair, detangle your hair with a wooden brush and wet your hair after brushing to style your curls.
3. Avoid shampoo  and wash your hair with the no-poo (for ‘no-shampoo’) recipe (recipe below). After some time, you will wash your hair every other week until the day you will just need to wash it with water only!
4. Now for the most difficult step,  do not wash your hair for 1 month. Yes, I know, it’s almost unthinkable, but to help you, use dry shampoos. You just need corn flour for example (maizena), or green clay (this is not an invention, the starch is often the #1 ingredient of dry shampoos).Your hair will be like new.


No-poo recipe
You need:
– Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). It must be very very fine, not in crystals.
– Apple cider vinegar (organic) or lemon juice
– Essential oil (Ylang-Ylang but can be others)
Baking soda is a fantastic cleaning product. Its main benefit is the fact that it is a mild alkali with fine, slightly abrasive particles. These two factors work together to break down dirt and grease incredibly effectively. Baking soda is not a common irritant, so it won’t cause issues for most people.

Apple cider vinegar in complement to baking soda works incredibly well. It balances out the alkalizing effect of the baking soda to restore your hair’s natural pH levels because vinegar is more acidic. It also helps kill bacteria (great if you have dandruff issues!) and is a natural humectant. Keep in mind that shampoos, even organic ones, have a ph > than our hair ph. Shampoos can be the reason of your dandruff problem.
1. Mix 2 tbsp of baking soda (1 if you have short hair) with 2 tbsp of water. You get a more or less liquid dough (up to you to add water or not, it is to your preferences).
2. Wet your hair thoroughly and then proceed with the dough like a traditional shampoo. Warning, it doesn’t foam! Massage your scalp with small circular movements, go between each strand. The easiest way is to do it upside down to aim the hair, not directly on scalp. Avoid lengths and ends which don’t need.
3. Rinse your hair.
4. In a glass, pour 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and add water, preferably cold. Add 2-3 drops of essential oils of Ylang-Ylang or other in the same glass. Pour gently the diluted vinegar on your lengths and not in your scalp. Divide well (watch the eyes)
5. You can chose: you can rinse it after 3 minutes or you can rinse briefly after the vinegar, or you can just not rinse your hair.