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Natural Shampoo Alternatives: Lather, Rinse, Do Not Repeat

Keep your tresses shiny and healthy with these natural shampoo alternatives.

| May/June 2013

  • Loaded with vitamins E and K, coconut oil is among the best natural hair conditioners.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Hugo and Debra Naturals Smoothing and Defining Shampoo
    Photo Courtesy Hugo and Debra Naturals
  • John Masters Organics Zinc and Sage Shampoo with Conditioner
    Photo Courtesy John Masters Organics
  • Kiss My Face Big Body Shampoo
    Photo Courtesy Kiss My Face
  • Keep your hair healthy and beautiful by shampooing less often and checking out these natural shampoo alternatives.
    Photo By iStock

We all want strong, shiny, beautiful hair. Healthy hair makes us look good and feel even better. If we listen to shampoo commercials, we might think washing our hair daily with store-bought shampoos and conditioners is the way to get the hair we want. But, while keeping our scalps clean and well-nourished is vital for good hair health, this common practice may be doing our tresses more harm than good.

According to a survey by Procter & Gamble, Americans lather up an average of 4.59 times a week, yet many hairstylists and dermatologists agree that’s way too often. Hair is much like fine fibers in our wardrobes: The more we wash it, the more it shows signs of wear and tear. The longer and thicker your hair, the longer it can go in between washings. But even short, thin hair can skip a day without any treatment. Commercial shampoos strip the scalp of its natural oils, known as sebum. When these natural oils are constantly stripped, our oil glands compensate by producing even more oil—leaving hair feeling greasy and in need of another wash the very next day.

Water and harsh detergents make up nearly all of a conventional shampoo’s formulation, with moisturizing emollients and plant extracts often adding up to no more than 1 percent. The detergent (the foam-producing ingredient that dissolves oil) is the most important ingredient to note when buying shampoos. Avoid detergents from the sulfate and glycol families: Sodium lauryl sulfate and propylene glycol are two of the worst offenders. Sodium lauryl sulfate, also used in engine degreasers, is a suspected carcinogen; propylene glycol, a compound used in aircraft deicing fluid, may cause skin irritations such as hives and allergic reactions, even in low doses.

Unfortunately, even organic shampoos can contain harsh ingredients. To find the best shampoos, choose those with low ratings on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database at (see a few of our favorites on the next page).

Shampoo Less

Shampooing less often can help straight hair reclaim its natural fullness and body, and maybe even give it a wavy texture that has otherwise been shampooed out. Rework your washing regimen: Aim to use shampoo only three times a week.

Slaves to shampoo may find this number extreme, but it’s possible—and actually better—to refresh your hair without shampoo every once in awhile. Between washings, treat your hair with some of the natural solutions to follow.

1/18/2016 8:54:24 PM

New Wash from Hairstory is where it's at! And I wasn't even looking for something else.

1/26/2015 8:18:17 AM

My Favorite is Pro Naturals

1/21/2015 8:49:14 AM

I take issue with wrapping your hair in plastic wrap or a plastic shower cap.Instead I suggest using a thin beach towel. I agree with the baking soda NOT being a good idea for hair unless maybe as a predissolved prerinse to make your water softer. Don't forget camomile tea as a rinse either!

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