Is Shampoo Bad For Your Hair?

August 4, 2011 | By | Comments (9)

One of the biggest trends in hair care these days is the whole “No ‘Poo” movement. Wait, that sounds sort of…scatological.

What I’m actually referring to is the trend in hair care circles advocating that people eschew shampoos altogether.

The reason? Depends who you ask but there are a few reasons bandied about.

Some say that shampoos over-strip your hair, depleting the natural oils. Others assert that shampoos can actually prompt an overproduction of oils from the scalp. Curly hair handlers have their own special reasons, usually involving the idea that shampooing ruffles the hair’s cuticle and leads to frizz. The no ‘poo people advocate using special cleansing conditioners—products that contain no foaming ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate or similar sudsing compounds.

But are these assertions true? Should we all abandon our shampoo? In an effort to get to the, um, root of the issue, I recently talked to Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, MA, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York, and asked her to give her two cents.

Her verdict? This is one trend that Phillips and her fellow follicle experts view with skepticism, to put it nicely. “People forget that their scalp is skin–and as such it does need cleansing and a lot of TLC,” says Phillips. Neglecting your scalp can actually hamper the look of your hair both today AND in the future. After all, the follicles containing the new growth sit just below the scalp, so any irritation, itching or inflammation above it can be problematic—and potentially harm your “unborn” hair.

Phillips sums it up this way: “If we told people not to cleanse the face, how many people would listen?. Again, the scalp is skin an should be treated as such.”

While people with coarser hair may be able to skip a day or two of shampooing, those with finer hair will find that their hair looks better and has more body when it’s been freshly washed. Phillips cautions that conditioners are not formulated with the skin of the scalp in mind, and so you shouldn’t start scouring your scalp with these creams in lieu of shampoo. Conditioner is best on the shaft of the hair.