Quit Shampooing Forever?

ABC News
ABC News
Quit Shampooing Forever?

ABC News' Becky Worley reports

Shampooing: you may do it every day, every other day or maybe you go three or 4 days between suds. But the "No-Poo" movement espouses quitting the practice completely.

My assignment: stop shampooing for a week and see what happens.

I'm 43, have long hair and while I am a no-fuss, go camping-get dirty-mountain biker-mom-surfer-runner I like my hair clean every 2-3 days. Big hair is my secret sauce. Oh and I'm due to get my roots spruced up next week, so I'm a little nervous about this one.

In the no-shampoo world, I am no pioneer. There are myriad examples online of women who've gone six months, three years - even five years without shampooing. We're not talking about dread-locked, earth-mamas either. Their hair looks good; generally thick and wavy. So I start with a positive attitude.

The motivations to "eschew shampoo" are myriad: improve the health of your hair, avoid chemicals, or even environmental concerns like saving water. Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, a dermatologist, tells us "a lot of people have gotten concerned about the ingredients in traditional shampoos - the preservatives, the parabens, the sodium lauryl sulfate." I can understand that choosing to reduce chemicals especially in a substance we use so regularly appeals to some consumers.

The first few days I rinse my hair in the shower and blow it dry. It looks normal, but it feels a little heavier than usual. I am a big user of conditioner so I'm actually surprised more by my hair's natural detangling ability, when I stop using conditioner, than I am by the fact it's not a greasy mess. As I research online, it seems no-shampooers do have some natural cleaning methods: a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water, cider vinegar and of course a product called No-Poo. But I'm going for the purest route- no nothing.

By day 4, I am not really loving the feel of my hair. I've worked out, played in the pool with the kids and what I notice is that when I don't rinse it and blow-dry it in the morning, it looks and feels really greasy at the roots. Let's take a moment here and point out that I bear an uncanny resemblance to Janice from the Muppets. When my thin blonde hair gets greasy it starts looking like those thick yarns of hair on said musical free-lovin' friend of Kermit's just mentioned. For women with hair of different textures, that's more coarse, wavy, or natural, a week might be perfectly normal. Not for me.

By day 6 it has taken on an earthy smell- kind of like mushrooms. I ask my 6 year old son to smell it (since no one else in the house will oblige me this scientific task) and he seems to think it smells normal. 6 year old boy- take it with a grain of salt.

Combine the earthy smell with the heavy waxy feel all around the crown of my head and I really want to lather up. Amazingly, when I rinse and blow-dry, it still looks pretty decent. The roots are not shooting up for a light bouncy look, but it's passable. What I do notice is that within hours of the rinse and blow-out it feels and looks flat and greasy. The hair divides into chunks and they are much darker than normal. Dr. Ingleton says there is a transition period of about a month but adds, "If you wait it out, your scalp stops producing as much oil as it did before."

In the end, I see the upside of no shampoo: showers were fast, fewer chemicals, less water wasted, maybe healthier hair, and you definitely save money. After the experiment, I feel a lot more confident going 2-4 days with just rinsing. But since I love the feel of fresh clean hair, I'm going back to sudsing sooner rather than later.

The Personal Care Products Council did not return ABC News' requests for comment.