Being a scientist, I love to partake in experiments. And I have just finished one: not washing my hair for a month. Now, when you first tell this to people, they initially recoil and think this must be a terrible idea. After all, it must look greasy and gross and smell bad, right? Well, no. First off, I still showered each day. I just didn’t use shampoo, and instead would simply get my hair wet and run my hands through it. On three days during the month I used some conditioner. I’ve asked a few people – begging them to be honest if the answer were unfavorable – whether they noticed if my hair looked any different, and each of them said no.
There was a certain logic behind all this, so let me explain. The idea is basically this: each time you shampoo your hair, a detergent in the shampoo strips your hair of all its oils. Your scalp naturally produces oil, and its response to losing all its oil is to kick into hyperdrive and produce a lot of oil to compensate. And each day you typically continue the cycle, and you know from experience that if you do not, your hair will feel oily and gross. However, if you are willing to suffer through this adjustment period – which varies but might be two weeks or longer – your scalp will readjust, stop overproducing oil, and come into its natural equilibrium.
Various bloggers have tried this, and you can read about their observations here, here, here, and here. Reading through those posts, the results tend to be positive. The positives are that you’re not dumping potentially harsh chemicals onto your scalp, you save money, and some people report their hair being softer, shinier, and more healthy in appearance. The negatives are that it still can feel oily or gross to some people, and the adjustment times can vary a lot. For my part, I didn’t notice a huge difference. Except after I showered. Even now, which I am pretty sure is past the adjustment period, my hair still feels slightly weird/oily when the hair is still wet. However, once it dries it looks normal. Maybe a little shinier or softer, but still more oily than I am used to. Below are some cropped pics from before and then after.
Looks about the same, right? It’s been an interesting experiment. A big reason why people use shampoo – or do anything, really – is because we have been conditioned to our whole lives. It felt somewhat liberating to give it a try, knowing that most people would find the concept disgusting, yet simultaneously knowing that no one else probably knew unless I told them.