Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Giving up/ Skipping shampoo or washes?

Readers' Questions Week Starts!

Q: Nimo asks, 'Can I give up shampoo entirely in place of ACV rinses?'

A: It is a personal decision. Shampoo is a powerful cleaner capable of stripping hair of the oil and associated dirt attached to the oil. Yes I am saying that this stripping action is beneficial if you want clean hair. To see further details on why surfactants can be good - go here

There is no research that I have found to indicate that vinegar can clean hair (that is dissolve oil like surfactants in shampoo do). It may have antifungal and antibacterial properties though which may make it useful (see this post).

Research would indicate that if you want your hair to be clean (i.e oil free) use a shampoo with a powerful surfactant such as SLS. If you are happy to have not entirely clean hair (i.e almost oil free but not quite) then choose a shampoo with milder surfactants such as cocobetaine.

Q: Yvonne wants to stretch her hair washes to two times a week and asks ' Is it better to sneak in a co-wash when my scalp gets too oily or should I rather use my hair tonic (which contains a lot of alcohol) to refresh my hair between shampoo washes?' 

A: I am not a fan of alcohol based rinses (personal opinion!). I have searched quickly for some research but I have not found anything particularly conclusive for hair. There are studies on skin which indicate that alcohols can strip away oils (good for cleaning) but may also disrupt the skin cells (not so good for maintenance).

I am pretty certain that alcohols can dehydrate skin and hair too (but I need to find some sources to back this up!). Therefore I will save this question and report in more depth later.

Personally, I think that washing your hair is better than using an alcohol based tonic. If you do not want to entirely strip off all the oil , then as you say, a co-wash in between may work well enough.

**Edit: See updated information (i.e scientific fact) on alcohols here **

Q: Nimo asks, 'Should I deep condition before or after a co-wash and should I do it on wet/dry hair?'

A: Ok the easy answer first, conditioner is water based and will be more attracted to the surface of hair if it also has water. First rule of chemistry, like attracts like. Therefore, conditioner on wet (damp not soaking wet) hair is probably the way to go! 

The second part is really a question of preference and time. I am assuming that you want to 'deep condition' and you do not like shampoo therefore are substituting it with a co-wash. I would say in this scenario, you would still follow the shampoo and condition rule which with your preferences would be co wash and then deep condition.


  1. I havent yet been able to just co-wash so I wash my hair just once a week and deep condition it at the same time.
    Is that too little?

  2. this blog interface seems to change by the hour, i dont think i can keep up any more

  3. Sorry anonymous, I do not understand what you mean. Are you talking about the site itself i.e technical or are you talking about the information?

    Technical - Nope the site has not changed for the last 3 weeks, I am still working on some changes but I have settled for this look for now.

    Information - Frankly all the information here was blogged about by me in 2009. I have researched and published here based on scientific research. I would urge you to click on the links and read the evidence.

    Angel - It is really personal choice. I usually also wash my hair once a week when I am not swimming. Since I am swimming now, I wash it after every swim. Some people can even go for two to three weeks without washing! All these methods are perfectly fine.

  4. Great post, I was wondering if you could look at a site for me. It a site by a well known cosmetic's company. It says that SLS are bad. It scared the heck out of me everything from hair loss, hair retardation, cancer, irritation and the like. Would you like a link? Please explain this.

  5. Sure thing anon, thanks for not including the link in your first comment, feel free to comment again and send me the link :)

  6. Thanks anon, I have the link now. It definitely alleges a lot of things. I will countercheck the information first and respond in full in a new post. Thanks again for your contribution!

  7. JC - Since you said DCing is better on wet hair - would you disagree with Aubrey's Organics instructing people to DC with their products on dry hair? What would be the purpose of them telling us to DC on dry hair?

    I find that when I DC on dry hair, the end result is softer hair than when I DC on wet hair. Also DC without heat, at least in the British summer, is more beneficial than my heat cap.


  8. CBx- I do disagree with Aubrey Organics instructions. I have penned them an email to request why they give this advice. According to their website, I should get a reply in 2-3 working days.

    If you have found a method that works for you, then do stick with it. We all have our own tips and tricks since hair is individual. My own method is not to ever deep condition or even apply heat....I can say this works for me but others would probably think I am crazy!

  9. If I may interject on CBx's question, I believe Aubrey Organics stated to do that because they have a fatty based product. Coconut fatty base is the first ingredient, not water. Therefore, as JC, mentioned above like attracts like and would work better on dry already oily hair.
    I love their product line;-)

  10. But what if I mix coconut oil and conditioner as a pre-wash treatment? Haven't you once said that oil should be put on dry hair to prevent the hair shaft from swelling too much during washing?
    Thanks for answering my question by the way. ;-)

  11. Coconut oil on its own is the pre-wash treatment and yes it prevents the hair from swelling when water is applied later on.

    I think if you mix coconut oil with conditioner, I am not entirely certain that the benefit would be as much as using the oil first then wetting. Essentially conditioner is water based and may repel the oil somewhat.

    However, this is only a theory, if you have been using the coconut oil conditioner mix on dry hair and have liked the result, then do continue to use it!

    Thanks for asking the question Yvonne!

  12. I have a question. I am trying to stop using regular shampoos and go with either washing with salt (which my mom does with great results) or wash with baking soda (which I have heard of so many ladies doing). However I want to know the best one. I have heard that baking soda breaks down protein (like when you are cooking meat and you put baking sodda on the meat and it softens the meat before it is cooked. So since hair is protein, does that mean baking soda will break down my hair? and isn't salt abrasive?

  13. I tried no poo with conditioner (silicon and oils free) and baking soda once a week. After 2 weeks i got smelly hair!! like moldy. Ive tried all kinds of shampoos, went to the derm (he said i cause some kind of unbalance on my scalp, giving place for fungus to reproduce) and i only got some improvement with ketoconazole.

    My hair is dry and coarse, not greasy at all but it was a 2 years nightmare, now its better but not as used to be.
    Be careful please, no matter how good something sounds, check the opposite side.


  14. Alejandra, baking soda is actually very bad for hair becauce its pH is too high ! That's why you have an unhealthy scalp and your hair is dry.


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