Let’s talk about hair conditioner.
For years, I thought I needed to condition every time I shampooed. During my first haircut in Paris, I found it odd that they asked me “Would you like a conditioner?” during my hair wash – I said “yes” and then got a nice additional 20 Euro charge on my bill (ouch!). Shocked that I got so ripped off for a necessity like conditioner, I remember venting to a French friend about it, and she seemed surprised the other way … she never used conditioner. Hmmm.
So that made me think – what is it about the way that we’re washing our hair that requires conditioner every time?
What’s wrong with how we wash our hair?
You know that squeaky-clean feeling you get when you wash your hair? That’s the problem. Most drugstore shampoos are based on a detergent, which strips all the natural oil from your hair (leaving it squeaky clean).
Think of when you wash dishes. If you just used regular soap, it would get most things clean … but for a really greasy pan, you want your dishwashing liquid to “cut through the grease”, right? That’s a detergent in action. It just obliterates oil. Good on pans. Not good for your hair.
Did you ever notice, the more you wash your hair, the more you need to wash it? Break the cycle! (Tweet this!)
What happens when we strip all the oil off our hair with a detergent?
- Our scalp realizes there’s not enough oil there – so it needs to produce more! So it starts producing oil like crazy, which gives you the greasies after a day or two (did you ever notice that the more you wash your hair, the more you need to wash it? Yep.) Completely oil-free hair is hard to comb. It’s hard to manage (hello, flyaways and static!) and needs some product to make it hold any shape (enter hairsprays, glosses, and gels).
- We get this irrepressible urge to use conditioner to make it silky, soft, shiny and hold it together a bit!
Can you see how this turns into a viscus cycle?
What is the crazy hair cycle?
Let me tell you about this crazy hair cycle that has entangled (ha!)most of us:
- First, we shampoo (almost every day!) to get our hair squeaky clean.
- But we can’t just leave our hair squeaky clean (oh, the horror!). Can you imagine? Flyaways, frizz, limp, dully hair – ick! So let’s bring in the styling products!
- Conditioner is a must-have to make our hair soft, smooth and manageable.
- Then we need specialized styling products: maybe it’s mousse, gel, anti-frizz serum, hairspray or even a finishing gloss.
- Voila! Gorgeous hair! But time is ticking…
- (Meanwhile, our scalp is thinking “Ack! Where did all my natural, protective oil go?! I need to make more, stat!”)
- So the scalp starts producing oil, which combines with all of these styling products and conditioner coating our strands, and soon enough, we’re a greasy mess.
- And that gets you reaching for the shampoo again… rinse & repeat forever!
Most of us have so much goop in our hair, we need a detergent shampoo to clean it all out again!
But what if we just stopped the cycle?
Can I stop the hair insanity? Tell me how!
It is possible to break free from this crazy hair washing cycle. But it will take a few weeks – and those few weeks might not be pretty.
- The ultimate goal is to switch to a non-detergent shampoo, or for the DIY fans – Baking Soda / Apple Cider Vinegar
- The first step is to space out time between washes. So if you shampoo every day, go to every other day. If you shampoo every 2 days, stretch it to 3 or 4. After a week or two, your scalp will realize it’s not getting washed as often and will slow down on the oil production.
- For the greasies in between washes, try a dry shampoo. You can buy commercial versions, or use cornstarch, cornmeal or even cocoa powder (for dark hair). I’ll do a post on this soon!
- Now you can switch to your new shampoo. Either a non-detergent based, natural shampoo or the baking soda / ACV.
- Your hair will have a LOT more natural texture. This probably means you won’t need as many – or any – styling products. But you’ll need to get used to this new natural texture.
- I also highly recommend experimenting with some vintage style hair rinse on those days you want a little more shine and swish to your hair.
- You can also apply a teensy tiny amount of argan or coconut oil to the surface or ends of your hair, for shine. (A tiny amount. Rub it between your hands, then apply to the hair)
If you are serious about getting healthier hair and ditching your drugstore shampoo, here’s where you should go to read more:
The secret to ditching your shampoo forever (details on how I switched to baking soda / ACV … for awhile. Currently I’m using a natural shampoo because I’m travelling so much, but will switch back to baking soda / ACV this summer.)
Complete, comprehensive details on doing Baking Soda / ACV from BabySlime
Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you use a natural shampoo alternative? What are your best natural haircare tips? Let us know in the comments!