Protocol for hair-washing was once pretty standard: lather up your head with shampoo, rinse, and follow up with conditioner to moisturize and detangle. But shampoo, that old standby in the shower—and a market worth $27.7 billion worldwide, according to Euromonitor—may be on its way out.
Turns out that sulfates, the foaming, grease-cutting detergents in shampoo, strip hair of its natural oils and even healthy bacteria. They can be over-drying, which is why hairdressers often suggest only washing hair a few times a week, rather than daily. Problem is, then your hair’s roots can get greasy.
Enter the increasingly popular dry shampoo, a powdery spray-in product that helps absorb the oil and adds volume to grease-laden locks. (In a pinch, you may have an alternative in your pantry.) But it’s a temporary fix that leaves more buildup on the scalp. Hence the need to wash it out with more shampoo… and voila! A vicious cycle of purchasing products and rinsing dollars down the drain.
Ditching shampoo altogether is one solution. Here are two ways to wash it out of your hair.
Cleansing conditioners are sulfate-free, non-foaming creams that you apply in the shower, and an easy way to quit washing your hair without really quitting—the e-cigarette of haircare, according to one beauty blogger. The cult product that paved the way for other cleansing conditioners is called Wen, and it’s made by an LA-based hair stylist named Chaz Dean, who shills his product on late-night infomercials (and favors neckties with tee-shirts).
But it’s great. I have been using it every few days since April and my straight, fine hair feels glossier and thicker. (Full disclosure: I still wash with old-school shampoo at the gym, just because it’s available there, and I fear my hair smelling like a yoga mat.)
I also rubbed a little spot of the buzzy new Purely Perfect cleansing creme in my hair when I found it sitting by the cash register at one of my favorite boutiques. The generally aloof employees turned evangelical when I picked up the bottle. It did indeed smell lovely, and their hair certainly looked nice. Wen and Purely Perfect are pricey (at $32 and $40 respectively) but cheaper mainstream brands make cleansing conditioners now too.
This movement has a rather disturbing name: no-poo. It involves quitting shampoo entirely and replacing it with a weekly regimen of washing and conditioning with kitchen products: specifically, baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I haven’t tried it, but this woman has, and she swears her hair is softer, fluffier, and easier to manage (and oddly blonder) for it.
As one would imagine, there is a greasy hump to get over in the beginning, but soon after, hair apparently magically (or scientifically) re-calibrates its natural oil production. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step, including an old-fashioned solution for that moment when you reach peak grease: wear a hat.