A few years ago I effectively eliminated allergy problems I had been having caused by washing detergent products. My symptoms varied from allergic contact dermatitis to recurring headaches and sinus pains (different symptoms caused by different products). The solution was simple – I started washing everything in pure water. I do have a water softener because where I live has very hard water.
From the responses to my article about this topic I discovered that many people also worry that they are allergic to their hair care products like shampoo and conditioner. This made me wonder whether a similar solution to these allergies might also work. Is it possible to go through life without using shampoo?
Based on my washing powder allergy solution I decided the only way to answer this question would be to use myself as a guinea pig.
For many years I have had very short hair and regularly in the summer I would go bald and shave my head for a couple of months (see pic). Basically this was just a style thing – it was much cooler in summer without hair (and of course I saved money on hair care products).
As autumn arrived I let my hair grow back again and usually didn’t use shampoo again until it was about half a centimetre long. The reason I started to use shampoo each Autumn was because as my hair grew longer it seemed to get more greasy.
About 3 years ago I decided to stop using the shampoo and simply washed my hair everyday in water under the shower. By strictly washing my hair with water each morning (but no shampoo etc) the greasy feel did not arise during the winter period of growth. I shaved my head the next spring and the cycle started again.
When I explained to my lady friends that I did not need any shampoo they pointed out that this was fine for a man but they could not follow this approach as their hair was much longer. However, none of my long haired friends had actually tried to go without shampoo.
So I decided to let my hair grow long and continue not to use shampoo to see if I turned into a grease ball. After a couple of years my hair is now shoulder length (pic lower down – cheap model!) and quite frankly I believe it is in a better condition than it has ever been.
Since my teenage dandruff days I had been a committed user of Head and Shoulders shampoo. Interestingly after 3 years of not using the shampoo there is not a spec of dandruff in sight – it is almost as if the shampoo was feeding the microbes that cause flaking of the scalp.
In addition I no longer get those little scalp spots that would arise from time to time. I suspect these were also a reaction to the chemicals in the shampoo (not necessarily an allergic reaction – it could just be sensitivity or irritation caused by chemicals on the hair follicle).
Very importantly, from a comfort and aesthetic point of view my hair is not greasy. I found that it is important to give it a thorough rub in the shower and use warm water (I suspect the warm temperature helps the water to remove excess volatile oils that build up). Shampoo is designed to also remove such oils but it does such a good job that the scalp becomes depleted in its natural oils. The scalp responds by overproducing these oils which makes your hair more greasy – so the shampoo becomes even more necessary. A rather vicious ‘greasy’ cycle.
So I can now safely say that it is possible to go without shampoo on a long term basis even if you have long hair. You do, however, need to thoroughly wash your hair with water every day to avoid a greasy build up. I have heard of people going without washing their hair at all – they claim it adjusts and comes into balance. I have not been able to go without any washing at all for more than 2 weeks – the greasy build up simply became unpleasant. Perhaps I wasn’t patient enough – but as I normally get a shower every day I might as well wash my hair too.
By the way I also do not use any soap in the shower – the formulation of my favourite soap changed and I became allergic to it (itches under the armpits and crotch). I stopped using the soap and all problems disappeared (see my article using the link below).
In conclusion – if you think you are allergic to hair care products you could simply try replacing them with other products which perhaps do not have the particular agent causing the allergy. Alternatively try and eliminate hair care products from your life completely and simply wash your hair regularly (and thoroughly) with pure water.
After a month or two you may find. like me, that you are quite pleased with the result. The hair actually appears to be able to condition itself – I guess that is why the scalp evolved to produce natural oils. If your hair is greasy at first I recommend you persist because the greasiness may actually be your body’s way of responding to the excessive soapiness from many years of shampoo use.
Please do not hesitate to share your experiences with other readers using the comments box (P.S. In the interest of scientific transparency – My ‘expensive’ models still use rather expensive hair care products – they are included to add glamour to the article!)
If you are interested in reading my other health focused articles try the following
Torture In The Shower – Face and Body Soap Allergies – Main Suspect: Pears Transparent Soap
Poison in your Washing Machine: Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Laundry Detergents, Softeners, Conditioners and Whiteners
Is Alzheimer’s caused by the Gum Disease Bacterium P. Gingivalis – A Dementia Prevention/Treatment Breakthrough?
My T-shirt Made Me Sick – Textile Allergies – Sinusitis From Your Underwear