One of the biggest influences on my decision to cut back on shampooing was herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar. In her amazing book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, she describes a summer she spent backpacking in the Pacific Northwest. The rivers were clear and beautiful, the water coming straight from the glaciers above, and Gladstar was worried that using shampoo in this pristine water would contaminate it. Therefore, she decided that swimming would be the only washing her hair would get for the entire time span of her trip (which she describes as “several months”). Here are her observations about her hair:
[After about a week]…my hair would begin to feel oily and dirty, always a signal in the past that it was time to wash again. But I waited, and I noticed that my hair would reabsorb its own oils. Instead of getting dirtier and greasier, it would “self-clean.” The less I washed it, the less dirty and oily it became.
If any of you have oily hair like mine, then I’m sure you can imagine my reaction to reading this. “Can it be true?!” Instinctively, I knew there was some truth to this, as I have always believed that our bodies can operate best when we get out of the way. However, it took me a few years to take the leap of faith.
As for Gladstar, you can tell she knows what she’s talking about – she has quite a head of hair. She says, “the biggest mistake that people make with their locks is overwashing them… Even the best shampoo, if used too often, will tend to dry your hair and wash away important natural oils, no matter how much conditioner you apply afterward.”
I highly recommend getting your hands on Gladstar’s book, as it is full of invaluable information, from beauty to all aspects of health. Among other things, Gladstar recommends washing the hair no more than twice a week (I’m not there yet – three times a week is as low as I can go at this point), brushing it and massaging the scalp every day in order to evenly distribute the hair’s natural oils, using only super gentle, natural shampoos, and a vinegar rinse to condition the hair and restore its natural pH.
The book includes recipes for shampoos and vinegar rinses, as well as a list of essential oils and what they can do for your hair depending on its type and color.
I will be posting on homemade shampoo and vinegar rinses next week, so stay tuned!