Mar 2, 2013

Conditioner-Only Hair Washing

Although haircare product manufacturers are still producing masques, treatments, spritzes and leave-ins, a growing number of people are deciding to limit their use of products and opt for a more natural haircare approach. Product-light haircare is less expensive and easier on the environment; moreover, many people find it has health and cosmetic benefits.

Shampoo-Free Hair Washing to Prevent Skin Conditions and Hair Thinning

Most commercial shampoos contain SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) or SLES (sodium laureth sulfate). These ingredients are detergents, which are very effective at cleaning and also produce a luxuriant lather. However, for individuals with skin conditions such as eczem and seborrheic dermatitis, prolonged use of SLS and SLES can exacerbate symptoms.

SLS and SLES have also been implicated in thinning hair, probably due to damage of the hairs' roots. Many people notice that switching to non-SLS/SLES-containing brands of shampoo results in visibly thicker hair after a few months of use.

How Conditioner Cleans Hair

Usually chemically gentler than shampoo, conditioner can still be used to clean hair. The product must be thoroughly rubbed into the scalp, and takes longer to work; most conditioner-only (CO) hair washers recommend leaving the conditioner on for 10-15 minutes to work its magic. After rinsing, a second application of conditioner is recommended to condition the hair as normal.

Benefits of Using Conditioner Only Washing

The harsh surfactacts present in shampoo tend to overcleanse the scalp, stripping it of its natural oils; to compensate, the scalp produces more oil, called sebum. This tends to lock a person into a cycle of overcleansing – the more the hair is washed, the more it needs to be washed.

Because conditioner-only cleansing is gentler, the scalp needs to produce less sebum to compensate. After an initial transition period in which the hair will look greasy, conditioner-only users find that their hair needs to be washed less frequently. Problems with dry or brittle hair may also be resolved. Better still, people who have experiences thinning hair due to prolonged SLS/SLES exposure may notice new hair coming in.

Coping With the Greasy Transition Period

While the scalp 'deprograms' from producing excess sebum, the hair and scalp will look greasy for a time. Usually this transition period only lasts for six weeks or sConditioner Only Hair Washingo. Disguise greasy hair with a variety of braids, or hide it under a hat or bandana! It can be useful to time the transition to avoid any upcoming weddings, major holidays or photo opportunities – summer allows for wearing plenty of hats.

Using a boar bristle brush helps to spread the excess sebum down the hair shaft, where it can do its job as a natural protectant and conditioner. These brushes also smooth down the hair, acting as 'instant product' and transforming grease into shine.

Other Options for Natural Hair Care
  • Water-only (WO) washing eliminates conditioner as well as shampoo from the hair-washing equation. Water and boar bristle brushing are used to remove particles of dirt and spread sebum throughout the hair.
  • Herbal or natural haircare use various homemade ingredients to clean and condition hair. The ingredients range from Indian herbs such as shikakai and amla to herbal tisanes, honey masques and aloe vera gel. Baking soda and vinegar washing is another homemade option.
  • Organic and herbal commercial products are sometimes SLS/SLES-free, and may contain fewer chemicals than regular haircare products.


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