Well Being

The No-Shampoo Movement: Can It Work For Active Women?

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Breaking up is hard to do–though apparently, for some women, not when it comes to shampoo. The push to move toward no shampoo is picking up steam, but I'm a little skeptical about its effectiveness as a movement for those among us who move a lot. Can a clean break from shampoo work for active women?

Over the last year or so, various rejections of the American standard of cleanliness (daily showering, deodorant use, etc.) have been slowly gaining traction— and the anti-shampoo movement is no exception. Eschewing shampoo has become surprisingly popular, and not just among the lazy and cheap. It's also big with those who want to do less harm to the environment/their bodies, and those just think maybe shampoo is kind of a racket.

Which, to be fair, are all kind of good reasons to quit shampoo–if it's possible to do so without looking like a street urchin or 90s grunge revivalist. Who it does not seem to be popular with, however, are active people whose hair gets sweaty more days than it doesn't–at least not yet. Which is why I, a person who runs regularly, am going to try it.

But why do it at all?

Advocates of breaking up with shampoo point to the fact that it's a relatively recent addition to our shower caddies, thus, we can probably all stand to go without. Until the 1860s, most folks just used the same soap they used for the rest of their bodies. It wasn't until 1930 that a synthetic, soapless shampoo resembling out modern goo was made available. And the frequency with which we wash our hair? That's new, too.

But does its status as a recent addition also make it an necessary one? Plenty of medicines and other products (which work pretty awesomely, like mineral-based makeup) are new, too–but we're not rushing give them the boot. What is it about shampoo that requires an exorcism?

It turns out that, according to some scientists, the various chemicals in shampoo might be terribly toxic.  Savvy shampoo companies have already begun to cut out the more harmful ingredients (like sulfates)–but that's not enough for anti-shampoo or “clean” (read: chemical-free) shampoo advocates. [tagbox tag=”shampoo”]

However, what I've noticed being widely left out of this discussion is activity level. Those who rarely work up a sweat may have an easier time skipping shampoo or trying more natural remedies–but what about those of us who routinely run, spin, or, heaven forbid, do hot yoga, which renders our hair a nasty mess of stinky grossness?

I'd like to find out.

Of course, going shampoo-free doesn't mean not showering/washing/generally being a clean person–which is the approach I'm taking on this experiment.

In the true spirit of science, I'm only changing one thing: using shampoo. Until the end of the year, I'm still going to wash my hair–I'm just going to follow the Hairpin‘s instructions for how to not become disgusting, which includes a “coming down” process, to get my used-to-shampoo hair ready for the switch.

Don't worry–I'll take pictures and keep you posted along the way.

What do you think? Have you already eschewed shampoo? Would you even consider it? Curious to see what happens?

Image: Valua Vitaly / Shutterstock