The “No ‘Poo” Movement

By: Jackie Thompson

Royal Drene, the first synthetic (no-soap) shampoo was developed by Cincinnati’s very own Proctor & Gamble in the mid-1930s. The product was an instant hit. By the 1970’s, synthetic shampoos were used daily by most Americans to wash their hair. But what about prior to the advent of the modern shampoo? What methods did earlier Americans use to clean their lovely locks?

The “No ‘Poo” Movement has sprung up around these questions and its followers love the answers they’ve found. As the name implies, the no shampoo movement considers more gentle alternatives to clean hair such as baking soda or apple cider vinegar while others swear by using water alone. The theory behind this is that synthetic shampoo’s harsh chemicals strip hair of its natural oils, drying it out, and prompting the hair to produce more oil in order to combat the sudden dryness. This creates a vicious cycle that can be incredibly damaging to the hair.

Those who have broken the cycle claim “softer, fuller, bouncier hair along with a dandruff-free scalp” according to the “No ‘Poo” Method’s website. However, there is a distinct lack of research backing these claims and supporting the theory behind the movement. The only evidence in favor are the dozens of online testimonies crying, “Yes, it really does work!” But alongside the movement’s supporters, one can also find its critiques. Organic beauty blogger of treehugger.com, Margaret Badore, found that it simply wasn’t for her. The method seems to work best for those with thick or curly hair. Regardless, if you’d like to take the No Poo Pledge, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Most No-Pooers have found that it can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to “retrain” your hair’s sebaceous, or oil-producing, glands to stop overproducing.
  • The transition is easiest by switching to a gentler shampoo and washing the hair less frequently, then, once adjusted, switching to apple cider vinegar, baking powder, or water.
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