There has been a lot of debate online following a video being run by the Huffington Post about a woman who hasn’t used shampoo for five years. This was picked up by the Beauty Brains and it has generated and continues to generate a lot of debate. As it has already been pretty thoroughly gone over at first I decided not to weigh in. But on a whim I started my camera rolling and just recorded what came out. The question on my mind, should you shampoo your hair?
Basically I have tried this myself and it really didn’t work for me. My hair became first greasy, then matted and before long I was scared to pick up a plastic cup in case a well meaning passing stranger took pity and put a coin in it.
The theory I was testing with my experiment was whether or not sebum production would reduce if I wasn’t continually removing sebum by shampooing. (Sebum is the scientific word for grease.) It didn’t seem to be the case for me.
But on reflection it occurred to me that I have really unnaturally short hair, and most men in history have got on pretty well with long hair and no shampoo. Sebum production has a biological purpose. It protects the hair from damage and also has an antibacterial effect. So while removing it is desirable for me as someone who keeps his hair short, it might not be nearly so compelling a story if you have long hair.
Long hair might have another advantage. It has recently been discovered that the skin produces the gas nitric oxide. There is a proposal that this plays a role in protecting the skin from bacterial infection. If this is the case, it would probably work much better under the protection of a thick layer of hair.
So if you have long hair you might well find that shampooing may well not be all that beneficial. Is it doing any positive harm though? I think it is possible. Although I don’t buy the idea that there is anything intrinsically wrong with sulphates, I think the presence of sodium ions in shampoo might be detrimental. I don’t think it is likely to be a big effect, but repeated shampooing might well make you scalp drier than it would otherwise be.
So my thoughts on this issue are that if you have short hair it is probably a non-starter. If you have long hair, it might be worth giving it a try.
The full debate on this issue is going on over at the Beauty Brains.