Is shampoo the enemy? Is washing hair with conditioner the answer?
As a Trichologist and hairdresser with over 20 years experience I have seen many trends come and go. Most of which are created by companies who want to reinvent the wheel. They will grab onto an ingredient and tell you how good or bad it is for your hair and sell you a product with that ingredient removed or highlighted. When these campaigns are successful they convince the purchaser they are fully informed about the ingredient and now know they are doing great things for their hair.
For instance sulphates and parabens have been demonised over the last decade and sited as cancer causing. But there is little evidence to show a real danger to consumers. These ingredients are in our beauty products for a reason, sulfates to cleanse and parabens to preserve. So without them your shampoo won’t wash and will go off while sat on you bathroom shelve. So how do the manufactures get around this problem? They add other chemicals that do similar things. At the end of the day chemicals are chemicals and some of the replacements may be as bad or even worse.
Should we stop using shampoo?
Absolutely not. Would you keep any other part of your body unwashed. Hanging your left foot out of the shower avoiding contact with soap. Your foot could end up rather smelly and even infected due to the build up of bacteria from sweat and dead skin not being removed. The same applies to your hair. I have not met many hair or scalp specialist that think we should. In fact most agree that a clean scalp is a healthy scalp and a healthy scalp encourages great hair which is what we all strive for.
So why do people stop washing their hair?
For any number of reasons but by not washing their hair they could be creating the perfect haven for bacteria to grow and cause many scalp and hair issues, even hair loss. This is never more true than in Afro hair as many black people have styles that remain in the hair for many weeks without being disturbed
So what to do?
Think of the hair and scalp as two separate entities that require different care.
Choose a Shampoo that suits your hair texture rather than its type. Choose products for fine, straight, course, wavy or curly hair rather than dry or greasy. As these will cleanse your scalp in a more suitable way for your hair type and not stripe the hair of its natural oils. When washing your hair use warm water not hot. Dispense a small amount of shampoo into your hands and rub into the scalp to remove dirt and debris. As you rinse out the shampoo the residue will coat the mid lengths and ends of the hair to freshen rather strip.
But what about conditioner? I hear you cry, what indeed.
The very best conditioner for your hair is the one your body produces for you, Sebum. It is tailor made for your hair’s needs. By choosing the right shampoo the scalp and hair will not be stripped of this home grown hair nectar.
Unfortunately if you have long hair the chances are the body doesn’t produce enough sebum to coat the hair length, so we need to add moisture to hydrate the hair. Again choose a conditioner for your hair type and apply it to your hair. Don’t massage conditioner into the scalp your own sebum will nourish that, just concentrate on the hair itself, remember the hair is dead, that’s why we can cut it it without hurting, and it is affected by external damage. Conditioner will help protect the hair from breakage.
Shampoo and conditioners are two very different products with two very different purposes. One to cleanse and one to nourish.
Just shampooing alone could leave the hair feeling dry and brittle. Using conditioner solely could clog the scalp leading to infection.
So in conclusion, a clean scalp is a heathy scalp and produces better hair. A dirty or clogged scalp won’t.
If you have doubts about what your hair type is and the best products to use ask your hairdresser for advice and if you have serious scalp issues see a Trichologist.