Molly & Emma with their unwashed tresses (Photo by Julia Newman)
Is your hair addicted to shampoo & conditioner? You will know it is if it gets greasy without its regular wash and rinse cycle. Our hair is not meant to be greasy. Our hair, like our skin, produces natural oils which ought to keep it lustrous and healthy, without the assistance (interference) of shampoos. So you probably need a rehab and the holiday season is the perfect time to get started…It’s cold so you have a good excuse to wear a beanie 24/7. You have some vacation time so you can let the peak oily days come and go without having to give a big presentation at work (wearing said beanie). You may ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Add up the cost of your hair products, the time you spend in the shower, the additional time applying products and styling, and voila, you have a steep time & money expenditure that is totally unnecessary. Why does everyone do it then? Like many necessary modern products, marketing is the answer. So stop being a sucker and start rehabbing!
Keep in mind that many of the unpronounceable ingredients on shampoo and conditioner labels come with safety concerns. Possible carcinogen and hormone disrupter diethyl phthalate (DEP) helps hair products hold fragrance. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) makes shampoo foam up, but it irritates skin and could be cancer-causing. Parabens work as a preservative, but they’ve been found in breast cancer tumor tissue. Yikes!
How to rehab:
- Week 1: Stop shampooing and conditioning. Your hair will become quite greasy, but only for a little while. Depending upon how often you washed your hair, the height of greasiness may be reached between day 4 and day 7. At this point, all you need do is massage your scalp under running water in the shower. Since shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils, your scalp overproduce oil to compensate. After you stop shampooing, it takes some time for your scalp to recalibrate and reduce oil production. Wearing a hat is great, but watch out that you don’t cause hair grease to adhere to your face (this could upset your skin and cause some blemishes.) Above all, brush your hair like old timey ladies did. It helps distribute your oils from the roots to the ends.
- Weeks 2 – 5: Your hair will continue to be greasier than optimal for four or five weeks. If you have bangs, now is a good period to pin them back to avoid irritating your forehead. Of course, using any styling products during this period is going to mess with your scalp calibrating its oil production, but if you are feeling like you need something to absorb some oil, you can sprinkle a little Sow Your Wild Oats in your hair to help dry it up a bit. Honestly, no one will really notice that your hair looks a little oily except you.
- Week 6: Your hair will have found its natural balance and be looking radiant and lovely without being greasy or heavy. The only thing you have to do to continue to brush your hair and keep your hairbrush super clean.
How to Maintain:
Every couple weeks, cleanse with Sow Your Wild Oats by massaging it into the roots of wet hair and rinsing thoroughly. No conditioning should be necessary because your own oil will keep your hair naturally detangled. If your hair gets really dirty (you fall in a pit of mud) and you feel the need to clean-clean it, use a mild Castile Soap (we like Dr. Bronner’s Hemp soap for babies) and massage a very small amount of No Evil into the ends before brushing it out.
So now how to style your hair? Think of being protective of your hair. Imagine wearing a favorite sweater every day; washing, drying and ironing it several times a week – it would look pretty worn out after a few years! This is exactly what happens to hair that is bleached, colored, blown dry with artificial heat, ironed, weaved and on and on. Try wearing your hair up more often, brushing gently with a large-tooth comb, protectively using low blow-dryer heat (allow to air dry most of the way, then use the blow-dryer only at the end). In general, be gentle. Do not pull to hard or rapidly when styling it, too; be slow and steady. Be sure to check styling product labels for alcohol; many of them are dehydrating (the worst culprits are ethyl and SD alcohol). Get rid of curling and straightening irons; dry heat directly on fragile strands sucks away hair’s hydration and are extremely damaging. Whenever possible, stick to temporary colors, rinses and deposit only plant-based colors like henna. Bleaching is an obvious danger, but even semipermanent and permanent hair dyes contain peroxide which can rob moisture from the hair and leave it feeling dry an brittle. As a rule, try not to color your hair more than three shades lighter or darker than your natural color.
Wheff, lots to absorb here. Good luck on your hair journey and let us know how it goes!
by Molly Watman