The truth is that a lot of shampoo and hair care products these days are full of, well, POO.
Do I sound childish? Perhaps. But let’s try an experiment. Go to your bathroom and pick up the closest bottle of shampoo and conditioner you use every week. Turn it over and read the list of ingredients at the back. If you spot any of the following ingredients your shampoo is indeed a sham, and it’s full of poo:
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Sodium Chloride
- Polyethelyne Glycol (PEG)
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Triethanolamine (TEA)
- Propylene Glycol
- Mineral Oil
- Synthetic colors (e.g. “Red 33 (CI 17200), Blue 1 (CI 42090), etc.)
- Paraben (Methylparaben/Propylparaben)
So, did you find any? Chances are that if you tried out this little experiment, you would have found a fascinating concoction of chemicals, additives, and god-knows-what-else.
But what is so wrong with these purported “poo” ingredients? Well for starters they:
- Are harsh detergents
- Strip your hair of its natural oils causing limpness, brittleness, dryness, and enhanced oil production (greasiness)
- Are absorbed into your blood stream and are detrimental to your health (some are reportedly linked to cancer)
- Irritate your scalp causing dandruff
- Affect your hormonal balance (which can result in hair loss)
- Cause allergic reactions, e.g. rashes, acne and burns
I did this experiment myself and examined the ingredient labels of two shampoo brands I (used to) use regularly. This is what I found:
1. Herbal Essences (Naked Conditioner)
I used this brand for about 1 year. Here is what I found: Stearyl/Cetyl/Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance, EDTA, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol – can you see them above? These were the immediate ingredients that caught my eye that I can confirm are poo ingredients.
2. Natures Organics (Wild Berry Shampoo)
Oh dear. I’ve been using this shampoo MUCH LONGER than the Herbal Essences brand (on and off for about 10 years!) mainly because it is affordable, smells nice, and has the guise of being “natural.” Here is what I found (to my great dismay): SLS, Betaine, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (similar to SLS), TEA, Sodium Chloride, Fragrance, Color C1 17200. 7 nasty ingredients in total, right there for you to see. Once again, there might be more icky ingredients in there, but this is what I snagged by casual analysis.
Now … what is the funny thing about all of this? The packaging of course! Both products are garnished with words such as “herbal,” “nature” and “organic” – and the herbal essences’ shampoo even boasts that it has “0% paraben and colorant” … while containing half a dozen other unmentioned nasties! And while both brands fortunately don’t test on animals, this has taught me NEVER to pay attention to carrot-dangling words like “organic” ever again. I can’t believe that I’ve inflicted by body with these products all these years.
Lesson: Be sceptical of “natural” packaged hair care products. They might look like mother nature herself formed them in her earthy bosom, but this is to tempt you to buy them under the guise of being “good for you.” Chances are they aren’t.
How to Go “No Poo” With These 8 Essential Oils for Hair
Did you know that the first artificial shampoos were created in the 1930s? That means that for over 80 years mankind has rubbed, scrubbed, lathered and slicked his hair in unhealthy ingredients and phony promises.
However, in the past decade a new trend has emerged, that of the “no poo” movement which argues that most commercial hair care products are actually detrimental to our well-being, not to mention the fact that they’re crammed with dozens of unnecessary ingredients that don’t actually do us any good. AND I’m not even getting started on the exorbitant pricing of many “designer” hair care products either.
Rather than conforming to the mainstream trend of “buying into” beauty, many people have taken the initiative to find healthier more wholesome alternatives, such as the water-only method, using everyday household products, and using essential oils for hair.
If you would like to go no-poo I recommend starting off with the following selection of essential oils for hair. All you will need is:
- Honey (preferably raw and unfiltered) and/or coconut milk. Both ingredients can be bought at the supermarket at a pretty low cost.
- Distilled water. Once again, cheap, easy to find and buy.
- An essential oil. We’ll look at 8 ideal types below.
- A simple container or pump of some sort. This is to store your no-poo mixture in and to make it easy to apply in the shower.
- A spoon. This is to mix all of the ingredients together.
I love this no-poo method because it is so easy and inexpensive! All you need are three simple ingredients that can easily be bought at your local supermarket. Also, this method is PH balanced and doesn’t clog your drain (which carrier oils like olive oil tend to do).
Also, you might even want to add a bit of apple cider vinegar (teaspoon) as it helps to balance the oils on your scalp, treats dandruff, and encourages hair growth.
But if you would like a wholesome, scrumptious and luxurious hair treatment, picking an essential oil is a must. So without further ado, let’s narrow down 8 of the best essential oils for healthy hair:
1. Tea Tree
This is one of my top essential oils for hair care because not only does it smell delightful, but it is also extremely multi-purpose. Tea tree oil is antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic and energizes the senses, and can also be used to prevent acne, fungal growth and bacteria within the household. To me, it is reminiscent of prancing through a summer’s day forest.
Lemon is a great essential oil to mix with other fragrances, and also works wonderfully by itself. It has antimicrobial, antiseptic, carminative and anti-rheumatic properties, and is a wonderful oil regulator of the scalp.
Lavender works like an astringent on your hair (prevents excess oil) and has wonderful calming properties. It also has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and detoxifying properties.
If you have light hair chamomile is an excellent pick due to its chemical components. Chamomile also has a massive selection of health benefits (e.g. it is a stimulant and has anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties) and helps to kill head lice and mites.
If you have dandruff, you might like to look into bergamot. Bergamot also helps to add shine to your hair, and like all other oils listed here, has an immense number of health benefits.
We think of rosemary as a common cooking herb, but actually it is quite undervalued. Rosemary helps boost immunity, reduce stress, boost memory, soothe skin conditions like eczema, aid mouth care, and finally, it enhances your hair health! Rosemary oil is wonderful for promoting hair growth, soothing dry scalps, and adding volume to your locks.
Cypress acts as a cleansing tonic for the hair with the aided benefits of antiseptic and astringent properties. Cypress oil itself comes from the cypress tree which is often found in Mediterranean regions of the world (like Greece). The scent of this oil is slightly spicy, woody, and would be classified as a “masculine” scent … even so, I love it!
If you would like to darken and intensify your hair color, sage is a good choice. Sage also treats hair loss, helps your hair to grow longer, and leaves a shiny glean when washed out. Finally, sage is rich in many health-enhancing properties and has even been reported to treat issues such as depression, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Your Body is a Temple
Your body is your sacred responsibility to love, nurture and heal. I’ve written this article because I deeply believe that the no-poo way is the best way. But here’s a quick reality check: going no-poo can be really difficult and inconvenient in the first 2-3 weeks. Expect your hair to get crispy, frizzy, lank, and otherwise unbecoming at first as it re-adjusts and re-builds what it once lost. But hang in there (and wear a beanie,bun, hat, scarf or headband!) … it’s worth it!
Have you experimented with the no-poo way? What essential oils for hair do you use every week?