A couple years ago a friend of mine mentioned that he didn't wash his hair. I thought this was kind of odd, especially since his hair looked fine. He clarified that he rinsed his hair, he just didn't shampoo it. This may sound disgusting, repulsive, or even fundamentally wrong to you. It certainly did to me. Now, though, I don't shampoo my hair either.

It turns out that shampoo gets rid of a whole lot of natural oils produced by your scalp which are great for your hair. For the first week or two of only rinsing, your hair will feel a little bit greasy and unpleasant because it takes a while for the oils to be produced again and to really set into the hair and do their work.

After this, though, you have a brand new self-cleaning head of hair! As long as you rinse it as regularly as you would normally shampoo it, it won't get dirty and it won't feel icky or anything. Your new head of hair will feel a bit different, though. It will generally feel thicker and you can definitely feel the oils, but it doesn't feel gross like you might expect.

Besides the obvious advantages of saving money on shampoo and not wasting bodily resources, another good thing about self-cleaning hair is that it is tremendously manageable and easy to style however you want; I don't have bad hair days anymore. Many people waste lots of their time and use many unnecessary hair care products to get them that "pseudo-messy-just-got-out-of-bed-look". This is accomplished easily if you don't shampoo your hair by just ruffling it up a bit with your hand; it'll keep the pose. If you want it neat and formal again for that big date, funeral, or business meeting, you can just tame it down with your hand in two seconds flat.

This may not be the best idea for people with long hair who want it shiny and perfect, but for those with short to medium length hair, it has the potential to change your life for the better.

Jinmyo and Old Nick have good points. A Shampoo at least once every month or so is probably a good idea. I've noticed the matted and dulled appearance that Jinmyo mentioned when I've left it for longer than that.

In the old days (100 years ago) in certain parts of Europe, it was not uncommon for women with very long hair to virtually never wash their hair. Instead, they would brush talcum powder through it to remove nasty-smelling oils and then brush a little olive oil into it to provide sheen. They would spend several hours doing this, once a week.

In India the detergent-free soaking water from a seed (I will find the name of the seed later) was used to disolve rancid oils and the hair brushed thoroughly to remove dead skin cells.

This was not a matter of dousing one's hair with water and running one's hand through it. It was part of a carefully considered regime of personal grooming.

The key points in both of those methods, whether one agrees with them or not, is that the scalp and hair is cleansed of rancid oils to some extent, and brushing stimulates blood flow to the scalp and removes dead skin cells.

Having known a number of people who have gone for long periods of time without washing their hair with shampoo, I have noted several results:

  • Unwashed hair takes on an unmistakable matted and dulled appearance.

  • Unwashed hair has its own particular smell. All depending on how sharp your sense of smell is, it can be detected from a distance of several feet.

  • With the absence of shampoo to remove oils and the often accompanying lack of brushing, regardless of whether your hair is long or short, a rather nasty condition can develop, known as "cradle cap". This is a slowly accumulating layer of dead skin cells glued together by rancid oil forming, literally, a scab on one's scalp. It can form so slowly and become so dense that it is not necessarily detected until it becomes quite thick, as it is so gummed with oil that it does not flake or peel.

A co-worker once complained to me that his scalp itched, and so I asked him to sit down on a stool and parted his hair to see the condition of his scalp. He had patches of cradle cap perhaps an eighth of an inch thick and was not at all aware of it. So I told him to go immediately to a drug store, buy a stiff brush and brush, not his hair, but his scalp. He did so in a back room, and when I checked on him 20 minutes later, his eyebrows, forehead and shoulders looked for all the world as though he'd been caught in a snow storm, so thick was the fall of scab and flakes of skin.

So I think there is a little more to take into consideration with this than whether or not one's hair will lay this way or that.

And after all, the scalp is an extension of one's face. Try not washing your face for a week or a month or a year if you think not washing your hair is a good idea.

As a pharmacist and a human being (the two can co-exist in the same point of space-time), I can only say, "Please please wash your hair." If you don't want to buy shampoo from my shop, that's fine. Use dishsoap. Anything. Rinsing your hair with water is as close to cleaning it as lighting a match to your cigarette will cook your cutlet. I have seen cases of cradle cap that make me cringe at the mere word "cradle" now.

Basically, the human body is designed to smell strongly and badly to help mark territory. We produce foul oils and nectars that perhaps only our cats and dogs can decipher now. They state our age, sexual potency, basic disposition, dietary prefereances et al. But our senses have dulled as we have stood straighter, donned trousers and skirts, and hired lawyers. So now we just smell bad.

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