How clean does your hair actually have to be!? I’m sure we’ve all been told, “You have to wash your hair every day or else you’ll have greasy hair”. Personally, I’ve always felt I had to wash with shampoo until I could literally hear my hair *squeak* and that’s how I knew my hair was fully clean. That sounds great, doesn’t it? Being “Squeaky Clean” ..but maybe being “Squeaky Clean” is causing more of a problem than you would think.
We have been conditioned to lather, rinse and repeat daily since we were children. Before even having an understanding about hair care, shampoos and conditioners we adapted these products into our daily routines. Our parents were the ones we’d rely on to choose the right products. The scary thing about this is, when we were young there wasn’t a lot of information about hair care, it was hard to be informed of what was good and what was bad. Often times our parents just bought cheaper shampoos filled with harsher chemicals not realizing that these could be the cause of future scalp and hair problems.
The Hair Science | Down to the roots
Your skin produces natural oil from its sebaceous glands called sebum. Your sebaceous gland produces this sebum to coat your skin to keep it moisturized and protected from the elements. Sebum also works very closely with your hair follicles to keep your hair naturally soft and protected. Think of this as your body’s natural moisturizer and conditioner.
So what happens when you use a shampoo with sulphates or harsher surfactants?
A surfactant is what breaks the tension between the oils in your hair and the water, allowing them to bind together and be washed away along with any dirt caught between. Surfactants are indiscriminate between the good natural oils on your skin and grease and dirt you want to wash away. When you use sulphates or harsher surfactants they strip all of the oils from your scalp. This action sends your body’s sebaceous gland into overdrive to protect your skin and hair from drying out. The Issues that rise from this are often, greasy hair, dry itchy skin on the scalp, dandruff and in some cases acne on your scalp.
So should we stop washing our hair all together?
We’ll not exactly. While there are a few methods, going no-poo and using dry shampoo, that works for some people but not for everyone. When asking our Co-founder and expert product formulator, Brandon Morrison, his opinion, he stated this:
“ The science of hair is a little complicated as everyone is different - different hair types, different skin types, even different lifestyles and diets can lead to different needs when washing and taking care of your hair or skin.
For example, if your morning routine includes exercise or an activity that makes you sweat before work you might be tempted to wash your hair daily. If your hair is thicker and more coarse you might want to shampoo less and use conditioner to optimize the hair’s health, alternatively if you feel your hair is finer you might want to use less conditioner to keep it from being weighed down.
I think personally, going back to the basics, using an all natural shampoo that has a mild surfactant and is pH balanced is a good place to start. This won’t strip the oils out of your hair and in theory, should allow your sebaceous gland to adjust. Lukewarm water is probably the best when washing your hair as hot water tends to dry the skin. Diet and lifestyle play a big part in how your body produces its natural oils. Certain foods and stress can cause a higher production of oil from your sebaceous glands.
I feel that, often times, less is more; and if you have the patience to listen to your body you can start to see what personally works for you. If you use an all natural shampoo you can try to space out the days before having to use it again. I personally believe every 2nd day for shampooing is more than enough.
When it comes to your hair there are so many options available that it may seem daunting to find what will work best for you. It can be a lot to take in sometimes.. so don’t be afraid to mullet over.”
The long and the short
Use a shampoo that is mild and gentle on your scalp. You want a shampoo that won’t disrupt your bodies natural oils by stripping them away from your scalp and hair. Most natural and sulphate free shampoos are a good start. A shameless shout out to UNITED & FREE’s Lo-foam Shampoo as it uses decyl-glucoside, an extremely mild surfactant that is biodegradable and derived from plants (sugar and coconut fatty alcohol) making it suitable for all hair types. It also helps to prevent breakage while building your hairs durability and elasticity using a high quality botanical protein from the baobab tree.
Long hot showers are a no go! Taking long hot showers will tend to dry your skin and scalp out which could be aggravating the issue of greasy hair or dry scalp. Instead, try to aim for shorter bathing times and water that is closer to your body temperature.
Diet, Exercise, and self care. These practices are great for your general health, but they also affect your skin and hair health too. Diet can be linked to the production of sebum in the skin; certain foods can cause you to produce more oil than necessary, keeping an eye on the foods that you eat can help alleviate you from some of the oiliness in your daily life. Exercise is a great way for the body to naturally fight and cope with stress. When you exercise your body is releasing endorphins into your brain triggering a positive feeling. Self-care, be it meditation or even taking a moment to just sit and enjoy a cup of your favorite matcha can make all the difference in your day. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help with the release of dopamine in the brain and is correlated with lower cortisol levels in the body, helping to reduce stress.
Adding more movement, incorporating a daily mindfulness practice, or adapting to a more plant based lifestyle could be the key to help correct your current skin and hair condition.