Posted by All-Nutrient Professional on Jul 18, 2017

First there was the no ‘poo shampoo, then came co-washes and pre-poos. But which should you poo-poo and which should you do?

When you shower, do you shampoo 1) every time, 2) some of the time or 3) rarely to never? If you said 3, you might be overly influenced by trends. Years after the “Curly Girl Method” (cleansing with conditioner only) was popularized and hundreds of home experiments were shared online, there’s no one verdict about who can go “no ‘poo” and whether or not it really matters. Then there are offshoots, like using baking soda or apple cider vinegar as home hair cleansers and reverse washing or doing a pre ‘poo by applying natural oils to dry hair before shampooing. The untrendy truth: What works best depends on hair type, individual needs, and more.


The No 'Poo Promise

Super-curly girls have naturally dry hair because sebum has a hard time traveling down from the scalp through all those twists and turns, and moisture can escape where the hair bends. Some decided that all shampoos dried hair further (a pretty sweeping statement), and the idea behind slam-dunking shampoos was born. Why not wash with a conditioner to avoid dryness, the thinking went, despite the fact that not all conditioners are the same. Then women with straight hair jumped on the bandwagon, even though they don’t have the same challenge. But co-washing isn’t a one-suits-all solution, nor is right for all the curly girls all of the time. Here’s why:

Co-washing doesn’t address scalp care, which is one of shampoo’s primary purposes. The scalp and roots need cleansing the most, but the midshaft and ends can get product build-up too. Not to mention, not all conditioners are made for curl, nor are they all the ideally balanced pH, which is about 4.5 to 5.5 for skin and hair. Potential drawbacks of under-shampooing include sebum build-up, scalp irritation, failure to treat scalp issues such as dandruff and lower lengths that don’t to get the need-based care the correct shampoo and conditioner can provide.

Some DIYers found that over time, co-washing resulted in oily hair, while others found their hair had less bounce and manageability (a direct sign of build-up). And because co-washing is specific to the needs of the über-curly, it makes no sense for slightly wavy to straight hair. Shampooing straight hair a bit less can make it fuller, as second-day washers know. But contrary to rumor, it won’t slow sebum production, which depends on many factors, including hormones.

Ditching shampoos altogether also ignores recent haircare developments in combating environmental pollution, removing mineral and hard water deposits and addressing DHT. The more porous the hair (and all chemically treated hair is more porous), the more it absorbs from the environment. So, co-washes aren’t for everyone, finding the right products for the hair type matters most and there are a variety of drawbacks to never shampooing, unless you’re the chemical engineer who skipped even showering for years by using his own invention with “ammonia-oxidizing bacteria.” Sounds like a beautiful experience, right?


Just Say No to Baking Soda and Vinegar

Natural ingredients (specific ones in the right formulas) can do hair a world of good. However, completely chemical-free quest can lead to strange and stranger things being used on the hair, such as baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda is used to whiten teeth and clean the bathtub; do you really want that cleaning your hair too? Its crystals can be abrasive and its pH of 9 (higher in water) can exacerbate dryness and damage. Used repeatedly, it could even break down the hair’s disulfide bonds.

Apple cider vinegar, another popular home rinse, has a pH of about 3 or 4, which can leave the hair dry and brittle from too much acidity. Apple cider vinegar contains minerals such as copper and iron, which is why some people drink it, but these are also some of the minerals you don’t want in hair as they interfere with color. Used together, these two ingredients unclog drains, which is why they should not be mixed and enclosed. (Manufacturers warn not to mix baking soda with an acid). You don't need (or want) a shampoo that harsh. A great shampoo cleanses and puts back shine, rather than strips, or harms the hair.


What's Up With Reverse Washing or the Pre-Poo?

The Pre ‘Poo is just a new name for something that’s been done for decades: applying a natural oil to dry hair and allowing it to sit for 10 minutes or overnight. This treatment is great for dry, frizzy, super-curly or damaged hair if it relies on penetrating oils and is completely rinsed out once the treatment is over. Treating the hair once a week before washing is a better option than co-washing, especially when it is done as an in-salon treatment that’s customized for the hair’s needs.

These treatments are recommended when hair is dry, damaged or super frizzy; right after split ends are snipped off; and any time true curls and coils are lifeless or lack natural spring.


The Best Shampoo How-To

Not only do shampoos cleanse and care for the scalp and roots, many gentler shampoos help restore moisture and protein. Both shampoos and conditioners should be chosen for the hair’s needs, which a quick porosity and tensile-strength test can reveal.

Chemicals play a key role in shampoo selection when it comes to chemically-treated hair, which has special needs. Color-care shampoos can be even more protective of haircolor than non-specialized conditioners, and when used with companion conditioners, they can also help support the hair’s natural fiber and re-hydrate color-treated hair. Of course, anyone who wears hair extensions should shampoo regularly, treating the attachment sites with TLC. Pros say that under, not over, shampooing is a more common problem.

To shampoo for maximum benefit, detangle your hair first. If you need a pre ‘poo treatment, apply a natural oil or deep conditioner, distribute it evenly with a wide-toothed comb and wait five to 10 minutes. Then lightly cleanse with the correct shampoo for hair type and condition, concentrating on the roots. Rinse well in tepid water, condition the ends if needed, then rinse, towel blot and apply a thermal protectant before heat styling. For average hair types, shampooing and then conditioning every two or three days is just about right and will help fantasy colors maintain intensity longer.

Finally, don’t forget that the best part of the shampoo is the relaxing or invigorating scalp massage. Always include it for a great shampoo experience.


Topics: hair care, The Truth Behind