It started innocently enough: I complimented a friend on her stunning red haircolour and she confessed that one of the ways she keeps it vibrant is by not washing it… “like, NEVER”.
Being a curly girl who has read Curly Girl, Lorraine Massey’s book on the unique challenges of cutting, styling, caring for and loving naturally curly hair, I was familiar with the “no ‘poo” approach to haircare (specific techniques vary, but it basically involves cutting out detergent-laden shampoos, lifting dirt from the scalp and hair using just a bit of conditioner and a gentle rub). I used Massey’s method religiously for quite a while, but eventually I went back to shampoo – I can’t recall why, whether it was that I became dissatisfied with the way conditioner seemed to weigh my curls down, or if it was when I dreaded my locks. Either way, I sudsed up with some product or another for at least the last three years, but then, when I went to dye my hair, I thought of what my friend had said: “like, NEVER”.
I had just gone back to boxed dye after successfully using henna for quite some time, and though the drugstore gunk was faster and more convenient than the whole-day event that is henna (for me), the colour just didn’t have the same staying power. I really wanted to keep that dye stuck to my hair as long as I could, so I waited to wash. And I waited. And I waited some more. When I finally felt like it needed a little something, I scrubbed the roots with a bit of conditioner. And then waited.
The more I waited, the better my hair looked, and the healthier it felt. It was shiny and less prone to breakage, developing big, loose, bouncy curls instead of big frizz. My scalp was less itchy and my embarrassing flakes all but disappeared.
After a few weeks and some more experimenting, I no longer feel like I need goopy, heavy silicone serums to control my hair. I massage my scalp and rinse thoroughly every day or every-other day, I brush (carefully!) a couple of times a day, and I’ve only used conditioner to loosen and lubricate the henna paste (which I recently returned to, with great results – stay tuned for the details in a future installment).
In retrospect, my friend probably didn’t mean literally “never”. Then again, I’m not “never” washing my hair, either: the mechanical action of massaging, rinsing and brushing is plenty to keep it clean without detergents and perfumes and silicones.
“Sham” + “poo”? Yeah, sounds about right to me.