I'm no-poo, what about you? I can’t believe I haven’t ‘poo’d in 5 years. Not ‘pooing is fairly rare, and people are likely to think not ‘poo’ing would be greasy and smelly... but not ‘poo’ing is extremely healthy and liberating - it’ been one of my better decisions! But wait, it’s not what you think! I’m quite regular, if you must know. The No-Poo method refers to washing hair without commercial shampoos! I’m a non-commercial-shampoo’er and I ain’t ever going back! I never sought out the no-poo life, it came to me during a evolutionary time. While “detoxing” from all things superficial, I took out my hair extensions. Once out, my own hair felt fantastic. Like home; comfortable and my own. Up until the extension removal, I had been transitioning into a vegan lifestyle. I had cut out dairy, meat and gluten to. During this time my skin cleared up significantly and had become balanced (which I attribute to the diet); it was neither dry nor oily. Subsequently, I stopped using all face products. I just used water to wash. (I suppose I should mention I had also stopped wearing makeup). So when my extensions came out I noticed my hair wasn’t all that oily either and I showered with water only (maybe not the very first time, but probably the second). My hair didn’t feel like it needed shampoo or conditioner, it felt pretty light and clean. And 5 years on I’m still without conventional shampoo, and I love my hair! I want to tell you about what I use when I want to wash my hair thoroughly, but first let’s quickly talk about a good reason why you should consider ditching conventional shampoos for better hair and health. Mass-produced shampoos are a concoction of chemical additives that essentially strip your scalp of natural oils (sebum), leaving your scalp and hair dried out, so we use conditioner to counteract the dryness. Your body naturally retaliates by overcompensating for the oil loss, leaving you with a noticeably greasy head in days. And this cycle is repeats over and over again. People adopt "No poo" practices for many reasons, but one reason is concern about the effect of ingredients typically found in commercial hair care products. Shampoo typically contains chemical additives such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. There are health concerns about these chemicals, which can irritate the skin of sensitive people (or of anyone if not thoroughly rinsed). The Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, DC, compared the ingredients in 42,000 personal care products against 50 toxicity and regulatory databases and found that most shampoos have at least one chemical that raises concern (although the hair care industry counters by claiming that the chemicals are safe in the concentrations used). The group flagged the following groups of ingredients as hazardous: fragrances (the ingredients forming the fragrances are not disclosed), parabens (linked to endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity concerns), DMDM hydantoin (allergy concerns), 1,4-dioxane (which The Environmental Protection Agency has labelled as a probable human carcinogen). Some shampoos also include silicone derivatives (such as dimethicone), which is claimed to coat the hair. While it is claimed that silicone derivatives protect the hair and make it more manageable (dimethicone is a common ingredient in smoothing serums and detangling conditioners), the film that proponents assert coats the hair is also claimed to prevent moisture from entering the hair, eventually drying it out. And in 2013, the FDA announced a review of triclosan, contained in antibacterial shampoos and soaps. Triclosan was found to affect hormone levels in animals. It has also been found to contribute to antibiotic resistance. I’m sure you’ve seen cosmetic items that say “paraben-free”. But do you really know what parabens are? Parabens easily penetrate the skin. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has listed parabens as Category 1 priority substances, based on evidence that they interfere with hormone function. Parabens can mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. They have been detected in human breast cancer tissues, suggesting a possible association between parabens in cosmetics and cancer. Parabens may also interfere with male reproductive functions. In addition, studies indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage. The ingredients alone are a strong reasons to avoid mass-produced shampoos, fortunatly there are plenty of great, toxic-free options out there for us. So now let’s look at some of the safe and wonderful alternatives I use and the benefits you can get from naturally nourishing your hair. Whenever using a product on my biggest organ (my skin) I inquire and confirm whether it’s safe. Is it free of toxins? (Definition of a toxin: An antigenic poison produced by or derived from microorganisms and causing disease when present at low concentration in the body). To ensure this, I check the ingredients list. What I’m looking for is a few familiar ingredients including lovely things like coconut oil, vegetable oil, essential oils... No funky words I can’t pronounce and no umbrella term like “fragrance” or “parfum”. Did you know a single fragrance in a product can contain a mixture of between 50 to 300 different chemicals?! My first unconventional choice is a shampoo bar (looks like a bar of soap). Sounds old-school, right? But rest assured, this isn’t your Moms Ivory. I generally get my shampoo bar from the local Farmer’s Markets, but you can usually find them at your local health food store. I love choosing my bar and it’s scent (like lavender, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus) from the Market with the artist who made the soap! The venders are super enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their product because it’s they’re passion! And I’m super excited to be purchasing such a wonderful, handcrafted product and to be supporting someone I know directly. Farmer’s Markets are a win-win for everyone. I’ve also tried Moroccan clay powder (specifically the Ghassoul type). After reading online reviews I decided to give it a go. It’s a fine powder when dry and you create a mud-like mixture with a bit of powder and water before applying it to your hair. Allow it to sink in for a few minutes while you attend to your other shower session chores. Finally, and simply, rinse it out. This stuff is lovely and can also be used as a detoxifying cleanser, face mask or skin conditioner. Trust me when I say you’re left with baby soft, knot-free hair! And now for the the no-poo go-to you’re most likely to see online; dissolved baking soda (as the shampoo) followed by an acidic rinse like diluted apple cider vinegar (as the conditioner). Because baking soda is not a detergent, when you wash your hair using this way the sebum your scalp produces doesn’t get stripped away. As a result, your hair becomes naturally healthier because vital oils nourish the hair. And because your scalp can keep its balance, it will not produce as much oil in compensation. Meaning, you won’t have to wash your hair as often! While I haven’t gotten around to trying the baking soda, I have tried the ACV rinse. I love it on my salads, so why not my head right? To my surprise the diluted ACV rinse worked wonderfully. It truly made my hair soft and shiny. But I’m a sweaty gym rat, and when you start heating up in the gym you also start smelling like a salad, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was a bit much for me. I use one of these methods about once a week, generally I just use water to rinse my hair. I shower daily because as a BodyRocker/DailyHIITer I sweat, alot! Hello! And if you think my hair would smell, you’d be wrong. I most certainly believe having a clean diet contributes to the success of the no-poo method. As you can imagine, there will be an adjustment period when you start using no-poo, and your hair might be less-than-beautiful for a time. But when your hair and scalp are back in balance, you can expect… ▪ more body ▪ less oily hair ▪ less frizz and fly-aways (great for curly hair ladies) ▪ added shine for all hair colors, including blondes ▪ hair that’s easier to style – my hair is so much more manageable these days ▪ wash hair less often as your scalp will no longer be over producing oils (I know I already mentioned that, but it’s a really good point) ▪ no chemicals on your hair, scalp or down the drain – the Earth will love you too! (you probably know by now that I’m totally against harsh chemicals in any aspect of life so this is a step in the right direction) ▪ more money in your purse – shampoo bars, moroccan clay, baking soda and vinegar are all really cheap (a big difference from those fancy-looking shampoos and conditioners) ▪ far fewer haircuts - when you restore your hairs vitality it’s healthy from root to tip (less split ends!) ▪ new hair growth – I’ve noticed lots of new growth coming in because my scalp is healthier ▪ this method is SAFE for dyed hair ▪ it’s also GREAT for grey hair (some commercial shampoos can cause grey hair to yellow) Finally, if the no-poo method isn’t your thing, may I simply suggest (and encourage) you to look a little more closely at the ingredients in your products. There are just too many hazardous chemicals lurking in common consumer products and although exposure levels affect people differently, there are certainly very real side effects from such things. Buy products that are SLS, parabens, fragrance and aluminum free. We are unwillingly exposed to hazardous toxins everyday (think general air pollution; car exhaust, cigarette smoke) why not clean up the products you use and give your body a fighting chance. And consider this, following a 2007 radio interview that Australian Richard Glover held with Matthew Parris (a Times columnist "who hadn't shampooed for more than a decade"), Glover "decided to challenge his audience to go without shampoo for six weeks". Of the over 500 participants in the challenge, 86 percent reported that "their hair was either better or the same" following the challenge. Try it for yourself! All the best, Freya Fit with Freya Vegan Fitness More on Parabens: GIST: Parabens are used to prevent the growth of microbes in cosmetics products and can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system. Parabens have been found in biopsies from breast tumors at concentrations similar to those found in consumer products. Parabens may be found in a wide variety of products including shampoos, lotions, deodorants, scrubs and eye makeup, and are found in nearly all urine samples from U.S. adults regardless of ethnic, socioeconomic or geographic backgrounds. Adolescents and adult females had higher levels of methylparaben and propylparaben in their urine than did males of similar ages. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOUND IN: Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben HEALTH CONCERNS: Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Pregnant women and young children REGULATIONS: Some forms of parabens are banned in Denmark (propyl and butyl paraben, their isoforms and their salts) in cosmetics products for children up to 3 years. There are International regulations in Europe restricting the concentration of parabens in cosmetics but there are no restrictions in North America. What are parabens? Parabens are actually several distinct chemicals with a similar molecular structure. Four of these are used frequently in cosmetics: ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. Methylparaben and propylparaben are the most common of these. Parabens are most common in personal care products that contain significant amounts of water, such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions and facial and shower cleansers and scrubs, in order to discourage the growth of microbes. While Cosmetic Ingredient Review recommends concentration limits for single and total paraben concentration in a single product, these recommendations do not account for exposure to parabens from several products by a single individual. A 2004 UK study detected traces of five parabens in the breast tumors of 19 out of 20 women studied. This small study does not prove a causal relationship between parabens and breast cancer, but it is important because it detected the presence of intact parabens—unaltered by the body’s metabolism—which is an indication of the chemical’s ability to penetrate skin and remain in breast tissue. A more recent study found higher levels of one paraben, n-propylparaben, in the axilla quadrant of the breast (the area nearest the underarm). This is the region in which the highest proportion of breast tumors are found, although paraben concentration in the tissue samples was not related to location of breast tumors in individual women. What are the health concerns? Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. They also increase the expression of genes usually regulated by estradiol (a natural form of estrogen); these genes cause human breast cancer cells to grow and multiply in cellular studies . Parabens are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation . Since parabens are used to kill bacteria in water-based solutions, they inherently have some toxicity to cells . How can you avoid this? Look for products labeled “paraben-free” and read ingredient lists on labels to avoid products with parabens. Many natural and organic cosmetics manufacturers have found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth in personal care products. Some companies have created preservative-free products that have shorter shelf lives than conventional products (six months to a year), but if used daily are likely to be used up before they expire.