Is “No Poo” healthy? A medical opinion

One thing that is extremely popular on the internet are mentions to the “No poo”method and products.

The methods:

1. Only water cleansing: Only water

The purest variant is to wet your hair with spring water. Advocates say that, although your hair gets greasy in the first few weeks, its appearance subsequently improves greatly because sebum production eventually regulates itself.

I have nothing to say about this except that water is not a cleansing agent and even if you never use hair products, you are exposed to pollutants, your natural oils or sebum and sweat which water does not have the ability  to cleanse.

2. Baking soda/ apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Natural is not always better. Just because it is in your pantry it does not mean it should go on your hair and skin.

Baking soda has a pH=8, ACV has a pH=2-3 one is too alcaline and the other one too acid.

The alkaline pH causes hair shaft swelling. This swelling loosens the protective cuticle predisposing the hair shaft to damage. It can also cause irritation of the scalp, hair loss and bleaching.

Don’t do it.

Even if it “looks good” a few times, it will eventually have a rebound effect and even increase the production of sebum, defeating the purpose of being a cleasing agent.

ACV is not as harmful as baking soda but still is not a good idea if you want tight curls.

3. Cleansing conditioners or cowash products and regular conditioners:

They contain cationic (positively charged) surfactants such as stearalkonium, cetrimonium, behentimonium chloride, behentrimonium methosulfate, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamine which soften the hair and stick to it (because hair has a slight negative charge), which in theory could lead to more buildup. But at the same time, they do possess some capacity to gently lift dirt and oil.

*Also another worthy molecule included in cowashes is cocamidopropyl betaine (amphoteric), but this one deserves it’s blog post.

My opinion as a medical doctor:

The no poo trend is probably not what it is hyped out to be and can be harmful, but using conditioner or cowash products to cleanse the scalp can be an aid to refresh hair in between shampoos, that can be as separated as 4 weeks depending on lifestyle and baseline dryness of hair.

In fact there is an old “guideline” from the american asociation of dermatology for afro hair care recommends washing it every 1-2 weeks, with the option to cowash you can still enjoy the benefits of cleansing your scalp and hair without drying it out more.

Natural is NOT always better.

Please don’t put baking soda and apple cider vinegar (undiluted) on your scalp and hair, it may look good at first but you will in general have problems down the road and it will take a while to solve it.

They may be in the pantry but they are not good for the hair or scalp.

Water never hurt anyone but all it can do is hydrate, it really does not clean properly.

In principle it is not harmful to only use conditioner (regular or the more expensive cowash products) and they can mildly cleanse the scalp and hair if left on and massaged in the scalp and then rinsed out as any other shampoo would be, yet eventually you should shampoo (succinates are a great alternative to sulfates, if you dont like sulfates look for this) for clarifying.

If you want to “no poo” prefer cowashing with products (I cowash sometimes because I work out regularly), either with high end cowash products, if you have big pockets or an ecofriendly condish (like the one From bodyshop) or a good ole cheap condish like Aussie and shampoo at some point.

A mix of dedicated cowash & conditioners

Is it necessary to buy a special cowash product?

Probably not, I compared a few cowash ingredients on various products and the cleansing agents are the same the difference are the specialty ingredients and the formulation (cream, foam etc) same as in any cosmetic product a part of the effective marketing, and better performance.

You dont need to buy a conditioning cleanser, but if you can afford it and want to do so you totally can.

Conditioners that work well as cowashes ingredient wise and that I have tried:

Aussie Moist, Tresseme Naturals, rainforest coconut oil by the bodyshop. The absolute on a budget condish with great smell the white rain Coconut or even better the lavender one, I cant get it in Germany but its so good.

Cleansing conditioners I have tried:

Macadamia cleansing cream.  I liked the fact that it is a foam and smells so fresh but the price of about 20 euro for a 100ml flask it’s not worth it in comparison to less than 10 euro for 400ml of aussie or 200ml of coconut rainforest for the same results.

Trying this product will be my guilty pleasure

What do the experts say about shampoo?

The Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV)

“… shampoo removes the oil produced by the sebaceous glands that traps dead scalp cells, dirt and other substances we apply, such as sprays, gels, etc. This oil or sebum must be removed periodically for reasons other than the merely aesthetic, as it is an important source of microorganisms that could induce infections.”
The Dermatolology times Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos (she has written really good scientific review papers about hair care products)

“The frequency of hair washing depends on the sebum and sweat production of the individual and the geometry of the hair. Hair that is straight will rapidly wick the sebum and sweat from the scalp while tightly kinked hair wicks very poorly. For this reason, individuals with very straight hair usually prefer to shampoo daily while individuals with kinky hair shampoo once every one to two weeks. It is likely that most Americans shampoo their hair too much, accounting for the huge sale of hair conditioners designed to replace sebum with a more cosmetically acceptable synthetic ingredient.”

Dr. Robert Dorin, a board-certified hair transplantation surgeon in New York City.

“the scalp beneath the hair needs to be regularly cleaned of oil, dried sweat, dirt and dead skin cells, Those using “no-poo” products “aren’t really cleaning their scalp,”.  “They’re not taking off the environmental impurities.”People who don’t use detergent shampoo to clean the scalp run the risk of developing fungal and bacterial infections”

Stop using too much shampoo😂😂😂

The bottomline:

Eliminating shampoo from the hair care routine is probably a bad idea, but reducing its frequency of usage (instead of eliminating it) might be beneficial and all you need to do.

Choose the right shampoo for you (even if it has sulfates a pH balanced for dry hair shampoo can be good, the mix of ingredients is more important, don’t like sulfates then use a different surfactant)

Shampoo correctly with small amonts of product also, only your scalp needs a cleansing massage, the hair just gets cleansed with the foam.

No poo in its purest form( all natural no product)is unhealthy, since it can lead to sebum, dirt, oil and environmental pollutants build up which then can lead to scalp diseases such as fungal and bacterial infections or can cause damage to the hair shaft by exposure to caustic agents such as baking soda ultimately causing breakage.

I want to love this product, but can’t!

image

This is probably the first “for natural hair” product I have purchased and so far I am not loving it.

The first time I tried it I used it to replace my usual leave in conditioner one that so far I have not seen in the raving reviews honor roll, but that for me works wonders. I purchased this cantu product because is a super beloved brand. My hair felt heavy and oily even somewhat gluelike, I thought maybe it was a bad mix and left it at that.

The Second time did a twist out and the result was great, although it took forever to dry and I thought maybe it was because of my low porosity hair; since the definition and hold was great I started liking the product.

Now I have finally run out of my macadamia oil leave in conditioner, I used it again as wash and go (my staple style, twists are nice and I cant braid for the life of me plus I have no patience). The results where less than flattering, it dried very slowly, its a sticky, oily, frizzy, undefined, tangled mess on day one, will have to wash again tomorrow. The  smell is also fatty and “humid like” hard to describe but not very pleasant, so far the worst smelling product I own. I did not mix it with other products.

Anyone else had similar stories with this or other popular natural hair products? Any tips on how to use this particular cream?

 

German Product Review #1: Peach & Coconut hair milk 

German dm drugstore brand

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Prunus Persica Fruit Extract, Cocos Nucifera Fruit Extract, Parfum, Isopropyl Palmitate, Behentrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene

Scent: mild and fruity when applied on wet hair.

Consistency: It is the first time I use a hair milk and have no comparison parameter, but it as milks should be a lot lighter than hair creams and has a lot of slip which is great for my curls.

Silicone free product.

In general I think is a good product, so far, the first time I used it I did LOC, but once I applied the hair cream my hair was too saturated so this time did not use hair cream and so far feel that is good for my hair as is, followed by Argan oil and left to dry.

I think I will continue trying dm drugstore products, instead of trying to order Natural hair products from the US, so I can experience Germany also with my hair 🙂 and also save a lot of money in the process.

Hope you liked my first review of product ever 😁