The natural hair blogger has been somewhat of a savior since the on-start of the highly publicized natural hair movement. When all of us were denouncing the credibility of our hair stylists (you know, the ones that helped to contribute to our experiences with hair loss as a result of not educating us about our tresses) there were a select few doing their due diligence at home and discovering the makings of their naturally curly, kinky, coily hair.

These kitchen-ticians concocted products, methods, recipes and remedies that were the long forgotten staples of our grandmother’s generation and the women that came before her. Their view from the ivory tower might be earned to some degree; however, we mustn’t forget the lost professionals of the hair industry who have the final say in how this world of hair works: the cosmetologist. The most egregious act being championed by many natural hair bloggers and religiously practiced by their dedicated followers? Ditching the shampoo.

“There’s an over-belief of the non-necessity of shampoos,” says Anu Prestonia, licensed cosmetologist with over 30 years in the hair industry and proud owner of Khamit Kinks Hair Salon in Brooklyn, New York. “There’s so much conversation around shampoos and co-washing and it has become a little extreme. You NEED to shampoo your hair at least once a week and not just a co-wash.”

Prestonia, who recently launched a natural hair care line Anu Essentials, believes that the anti-shampoo campaign began when women started wearing braids. She recalls clients walking into her salon with severe build up of product and debris in their hair after weeks (sometimes months) of shampoo-averse practices. Through a series of herbal rinses, essential oils, and rosemary oils, the ritual for breaking mildew and smells had become an all-too common necessity.

Shampoo, by definition, assists to clarify the scalp, banish debris, dirt and oil and offer a clean canvas for healthy hair. By not shampooing you risk build-up of products, breakage and the fungal dandruff Malassezia.

So what’s a no ‘poo girl to do who might be hesitant to strip moisture from her hair and fears dryness?

Ylorie Anderson, veteran beauty industry expert and vice president of marketing for natural hair care line EdenBody Works, suggests the use of a clarifying shampoo followed by a conditioning routine that includes weekly deep conditioning under a steamer. Anderson also suggests that during winter months when harsh weather can contribute to brittle hair that revitalizing shampoos made without sulfates should be used.

Have you been a supporter of the anti-shampoo movement? Will you ever go back?

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16 Comments

  1. If I wash my hair too often – even with the good stuff full of shea butter and argan oil and such – it gets crispy and starts to behave like noodles in my hand. Dry, brittle, uncooked noodles. (Severe hair and scalp dryness.) Weekly washings coupled with the abuse required to bring my hair into acceptable conditions for working in the hospitality business (a seven-inch ‘fro, that ain’t – one hang in a still slightly mobile tumble dryer and it’s all over) had me losing hair like a middle-aged dude.

    I brush my hair often with a dusting of baking soda to sop up the rare extra oil; for heavier cleaning I take a facetowel, dampen it with a no-rinse shampoo and scrub clean. Once a month I go full-wash, with three lathers, a conditioner, a deep conditioner, a leave-in, and a scalp treatment.

    One question, though: what is a co-wash? Until just now, I never heard the term.

  2. None of the bloggers or youtubers I follow ever say don’t shampoo your hair. The idea is that you don’t have to shampoo as often to help you hair remain its softness moisture and managability. It is recommended that you shampoo with a clarify shampoo to get rid of product build.Everyone’s hair is different and your regime should suit your hair’s need.

    • @TBZ: (…I hear the term “Youtuber,” I get mental images of potatoes…)

      Thanks for the information! Not sure if I’m going to try it anytime soon, as anything water-based will add several inches of ‘fro to my height, and getting hung on appliances and low-hanging fixtures isn’t my idea of fun. Maybe when winter hits and being indoors becomes the equivalent of having a hood dryer on all day long. :)

  3. Some folks take everything to the extreme. They behave like natural hair is a brand new thing, it’s like they have suddenly arisen from the dark ages. Shampoo is necessary to keep the scalp healthy and clean. Of course you can use milder cleansers, but going without shampooing your hair is a recipe for trouble. Not only will there be lots of debris and dandruff build up, but your scalp where your hair grows out of will be affected in an adverse way. Co-washing is good if done in moderation, but if not will cause a great big build up upon your tresses. Hair care professionals should never be left out of the equation for they have been taught the science behind what it takes to obtain a healthy scalp and hair, that is why they go through hours of training and have licenses. Bloggers sometimes over due it and give the wrong advice, simply because they tend to only talk about what works for them personally, not taking into account that what works for them, may not work for others. Be careful who you get your advice from because in the end you will be running to the dermatologist, getting treated for scalp conditions and hair loss that could have been avoided. I’m not with the whole natural hair movement, because for me it’s nothing new and I’ve been on this earth for 50 years and have seen and been through it all where it concerns hair. Even if you have relaxed hair, your hair grows naturally out of your scalp every couple of months, the ends are processed, and that is not a big deal, because the hair growing out of your scalp is dead anyway. Whether you choose to go natural or whatever style you choose to wear, take care of your hair and make healthy and wise choices, not based on what some blogger is putting out there but what is true.

  4. A cleanser with no sulfates, cones, or parabens is also an alternative for weekly washing sans some of the dry agents/detergents that are in alot of shampoos, the Curls line works for me (just a suggestion). There are also clarifying cleansers out there that are very good and not as harsh as others may be to your hair.

    • @shadow: I tried skipping the ‘cones once. By the time I got my hair dry and attempted the iron, it just sort of ignored the laws of gravity. I need a little weight. Parabens and sulfates, though, can go die in a fire.

  5. I use Terresentials hair wash. It’s a clay-based hair wash, and I really like it. I use very few products on my hair (A little Shea butter, Shea Moisture smoothie, olive/coconut oils, banana/yogurt/honey as conditioner, so I don’t have build up, which means less reason for actual shampoo. It’s ok not to use shampoo in my opinion. If it ever seems like that method isn’t working anymore, then I’ll go back to using a gentle shampoo once per month.

  6. There are salons that practice the no traditional shampoo route as well so this isn’t a blogger vs pros thing it’s what’s right for your hair and scalp regardless of what texture or chemicals undo or don’t put in your hair. Hard stances either way including this post are as devisive as the natural vs relaxed hair argument

  7. I wash with Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap, the baby mild formula. My scalp can get extremely dry if I don’t add a bit of coconut oil after I shampoo but this soap seems to make my hair soft. My hair is very coarse and thick, wavy from the roots out to about two or three inches. The last few inches are very nappy and coil tightly. I’ve been wearing my natural hair in a number of styles from close to the scalp to below shoulder length for the past 15 years. It doesn’t work for everyone but I haven’t used conditioner in my hair at all in 15 years. I only have problems with my hair being dry and brittle if I use shampoo with too many ingredients (a.k.a. “real” shampoo).

  8. “By not shampooing you risk build-up of products, breakage and the fungal dandruff Malassezia.”

    i got a kick out of the fungal reference. people need to go to a dermatologist for that kind of stuff. not a hair stylist. i mean, how often are people developing a problem like this as a result of co-washing? imo, people need to back up what they are saying…otherwise it is just a scare tactic.

    seriously, i just ignore most of these stylists. they are late to the natural hair thing and they are desperately trying to make themselves relevant.

    at the end of the day, people should do what works for them.

  9. Even though I ditched the ‘poo a long time ago, cleansing is still a priority. I simply mix bentonite clay (you can pick it up at most health food stores, vitamin shops) with water to make a loose, but muddy mixture. It rinses out easily, and naturally sucks away dirt, sweat, product build-up from the scalp, hair. Best ever (for me).

    • @Lola Zabeth:

      Wow great, I didn´t think I would find someone here who also uses clay powder as a natural ‘shampoo’.

      I always had problems with shampoos drying out my scalp too much, no matter what I used or which care products I later added.With clay powder there isn´t a problem, also no longer dandruff.

      And dusting a little bit of dry powder on the hair will take away too much oil when you need to run an erand and didn´t have time for a wash just yet. Different to dry shampoos you can not see clay powder on your hair..only feel it because the hair feels rougher after dusting.

  10. I rinse my hair out with warm water after every single workout — about 5 times a week. You cannot leave salty, sweaty build up in your hair or it will dry it out and can start to smell. So, I rinse my hair and scalp with warm water and a thick conditioner like Suave. That is it. I never shampoo it. If you are breaking a sweat almost everyday, how can you shampoo your hair without damaging it? Lots of warm water and a thick conditioner is fine. My hair is huge and curly and long and shiny. It never breaks and it is never ever dry. i would say, ditch the shampoo.

  11. @omfg: I dunno about anyone else, but I’m not making a monthly dermatologist trip for buildup. And astringent oils (tea tree, rosemary) are enough to keep my scalp dandruff free.

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