So let’s talk about washing your hair…you know…with soap. Most of you are probably thinking, yeah…I do that. I can almost guarantee you…you don’t. What in the world am I talking about?? Simply this… Shampoo is, stated simply, not soap. SOAP is a saponified oil that becomes a surfactant. Mainstream shampoo is a concoction of mostly synthetic chemicals, some worse than others, and water…and it’s intended purpose is to strip your hair of any and all natural oils, and then, with the help of a synthetic ‘conditioner,’ sometimes in the shampoo itself, and sometimes used separately, coat your hair follicle with chemical ‘saran wrap’ made of silicones and/or fatty alcohols to make your hair feel smooth and ‘look’ shiny and healthy. Ewww…
OK, let’s dive into the ‘ewww’ part as the description itself suggests that this may not necessarily be a desirable or healthy way to care for your hair and scalp. And if you thought that, you’d be right…but why? A few reasons…
NO DOUBT, #3 is the hardest one for us CIVILIZED Americans who spend a bit of time judging ourselves based on looks, not to mention spending zillions of dollars on products that might give a nanometer of extra glisten and shine. Hey! Don’t look at me like that! I’m as guilty as the next guy/gal…but I am also one of the most stubborn people on the planet, and therefore when I made the commitment to myself to live a healthier lifestyle via my body care products (mostly because if I'm going to take a 'health risk' I want it to involve super nachos, not shampoo)…I stuck with it, and allowed by body to adjust…to synthetic free deodorant, oral care, haircare, skin care, and everything in between.
Did I have a few bad hair days? Sure! Did I have a few bad armpit days? Yeah! Side tangent…what kills me is that the el-naturále deodorant thing has really caught on. I know cause every time I open Facebook there is a new company touting their product. The fact of the matter is, aluminum containing deodorant got enough bad press that people jumped on the band wagon and were willing to make an adjustment. What I find absolutely hilarious is that people are apparently willing to have potentially stinky pits, but a few bad hair days?? FORGET IT!! That's taking it WAY too far!!! LOL!!
So let’s dive into that for a second. Hair may need to ‘adjust’ to not being coated with chemicals, and it may ‘feel’ a little different in the process. What does all that mean? I’m so glad you asked…
Let’s go back to the title of this post, about ACTUALLY washing your hair…WITH SOAP. When we wash our hair with actual soap, it will not feel the same as when we ‘saran wrap’ it with chemicals, obviously. People misinterpret this as all kinds of things…the hair being dry, the soap leaving a ‘residue on the hair,’ etc. It’s the chemicals that actually leave the residue, tricking you into thinking that your hair actually feels like velvet. I know, I know! I want velvet hair too! But not as much as I don’t want to die of cancer. The hard truth is (I hope you’re sitting down), hair is actually coarser than we are 'conditioned' to expect (ha ha). However, if you allow it to adjust, that feeling will become normal, and the hair will actually not feel as coarse to you down the line. I promise you this is true. It happened to me. It is just a matter of you being willing to stick with a chemical free hair care regimen for as long as it takes.
(I will take a small aside to discuss the onslaught of VERY hard water all over the US over the last several decades making it more difficult to use soap for everything including washing hair like our grandparents did in the past. The truth is, if you have extremely hard water it may be difficult to wash anything with actual soap. What causes this is the mineral ions in the hard water displacing the sodium ions in the soap making it difficult to rinse. If this is the case, I strongly encourage you to invest in a water softening system, not just so you can use real soap in your hair, but also so you can save your hair, skin, appliances, and everything else that hard water destroys.)
I was reading on a website of a pretty prominent haircare company in Africa that attempts to actually keep crap out of their products. This is an excerpt:
Hair care actives – these were really challenging. We were trying to match the instant feel of the silicones and quaterniums with purely natural ingredients and the feedback from test groups wasn’t good. After six months we stopped and stepped back from the problem. What do people want? We figured they’d want healthy hair. The best way to deliver on that is not to focus on instant feel. Normal brands strip the hair and then replace the natural oils with synthetics. We worked with very mild foaming agents that don’t strip away as much and then used plant oils to replace the natural oils on the hair. In short, we minimised the disturbance to the natural cycle. So, if you’re prepared to give the products a try for two weeks you should see great results; but don’t expect “thicker, fuller, smoother” hair instantly.
I couldn’t have put it better myself, and this excerpt is actually what inspired me to write this post.
So…is all natural haircare for everyone? Of course not. Are you a bad person if you don’t ‘make the adjustment?’ Weeellllll…JUST JOKING! Of course not! I just wanted to offer some facts, realistic info, and encouragement to those of you thinking about trying it, tried it and gave up, or kicked the addiction for good and are still alive!!
Here are a couple pics of my hair (sans filter) which literally gets better and better as I continue to use my products resulting in A LOT of embarrassing selfies on my phone. One pic with blow dryer and curling iron action and one having air-dried and in its own 'nature of the beast' wavier state. Thanks for stopping by!!
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I am a wife, a mom, and a registered nurse. I also happen to be a chemistry geek and a researchaholic! Welcome to the Body Food® blog!