The Low-Down on No-Poo, Low-Poo, Co-Washing, and Dry Shampoo

Lately, as I’ve been reading various online articles and forums, I’ve come across several phrases I had not heard before: “no-poo,” “low-poo,” and “co-washing” amongst other savvy terms, I’m sure. What happened to shampoo? Suddenly, it seems, shampoo is the enemy. It’s as if in the last few years, anti-shampoo conspirators have been meeting in dark alleys behind hair salons to scheme against the product with which we wash our hair, or even if we should wash our hair at all. Personally, I’ve always been rather fond of the nicely marketed bottles of botanical goodness that fill an entire aisle in each local convenience store. What do these conspirators have against shampoo? I’ve done a little research to find out what these anti-shampoo trends are all about.

No-poo refers to not shampooing–at all, or at least not with shampoo. Shampoo as we know it now was first introduced in the 1930s, and shampooing daily became the American standard by the 70s and 80s. So, why do we need it now? Shampoo strips hair of natural oils, some of which we need. If left alone or minimally fussed with, a person’s scalp will naturally balance the oils. However, shampooing creates a vicious cycle: when hair is washed with shampoo, the hair is stripped of oil so the scalp secretes more oil to compensate. We then wash our hair again to get rid of excess oils, our scalp secrets more oils, and the cycle continues. Thus, the theory behind no-poo is to only wash one’s hair with water so that the oils naturally balance, which can take anywhere from two to six weeks. Some advocates of no-poo also suggest shampooing with natural products such as baking soda, honey, or coconut oil. In a six-week no shampoo challenge, 500 Australians went without shampoo, 86% of whom reported that their hair was “better or the same as when using shampoo.”* The results of not using shampoo? Easier on the budget, better (or the same) for your hair, and less waste for the environment!

For those not willing to give up their colorful bottles with salon-quality promises, the low-poo method is here to save the day. To low-poo, all one has to do is give up shampooing a few days of the week. Low-poo is a commitment to washing your hair once every few days with a small amount of shampoo. Some choose to use their regular shampoo or there are, of course, certain shampoos marketed as “low-poo” shampoos which are usually natural and sulfate-free. Many people also use baking soda or “dry shampoo” to absorb excess oil in between shampoos, but the theory is that a person’s hair will naturally balance when washing with less commercial shampoo. Some report the balance can occur within a few weeks, although I’ve noticed personal improvement in the health of my hair even after months of practicing the low-poo method.

Co-washing is a type of no-poo; it consists of washing one’s hair with only conditioner. Conditioners don’t have the same lathering chemicals as shampoo does, and therefore is easier on the hair and scalp and doesn’t strip oils away. This is trending especially with those who have curly, thick, or coarse hair that are looking to ease the frizz.

Dry Shampoo
As I mentioned earlier, dry shampoo is used to help absorb excess oils in between washes. It’s simply a spray or powder that is applied to hair on the days between washing. Dry shampoo usually consists of a type of starch (corn starch, rice starch, etc.) that absorbs oil like magic. As a fan of the low-poo method (I didn’t even realize I was becoming a part of a trend, I just stopped washing my hair so frequently) dry shampoo has worked wonders for me! Let’s face it, most of us don’t want to go to work or out to dinner with greasy hair even if it is just for three to six weeks. If I could hibernate inside my house or with some hippies until my hair naturally balanced it’s oils, I would, but most of us have to be seen in public. Dry shampoo applies easily and helps my hair look fresh and clean in between washes. Another upside is that the longer I have used dry shampoo and the less frequently I wash my hair, the less I need it–my oils have begun to naturally balance! As a commercial product, dry shampoo does have some downsides. First of all, most dry shampoos on the shelf are in an aerosol can–bad for the environment. Secondly, those in aerosol cans have some not-so-natural ingredients such as butane (an aerosol propellant) and perfumes. While the dry shampoo in aerosol cans sprays so nicely and conveniently, there are some homemade recipes in both powder and wet-spray form that work well, too.

Now that the scheme against shampoo is out in the open, maybe the anti-shampoo conspirators will move out of those dark alleyways and into the light. I can hear picketers outside the local salon now: “Save our scalps!” “Just say no to shampoo!”

*ABC Sydney,

Originally posted 2013-01-15 22:13:00.

Natural Product Review: Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo

Natural Product Review: Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo
As a person with thin, picky hair, I have struggled with finding just the right shampoo and conditioner. Having stayed with a typical shelf brand for literally years, I was hesitant when it came to trying something new in an effort to “go green.” However, learning more about sulfates and parabens definitely gave me a kick-start to dump the chemical-filled products in my bathroom.

Why rid my shower of products with sulfates and parabens?
Sulfates are used to make products foam up and create suds, which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but sulfates are also toxic and known to over-dry the skin and hair. Of course, shampoo by definition is supposed to rid a person’s hair of excess oil, and most people find this desirable. Over-drying however, which sulfates are known to do, can actually be a cause of oily hair because a person’s oil glands try to over-compensate if the skin or hair is dry. So here I was suffering from oily hair, and washing it more with sulfate-filled shampoo so that it wouldn’t be so oily, and all I was doing was making it worse! Balancing the oils in one’s scalp is key to healthy, strong, and shiny hair.Parabens are a class of chemicals used as preservatives in many personal care products. Parabens imitate estrogen, and can interfere with the natural hormones in one’s body, and may be linked to some types of cancer and reproductive issues. While there are limits to the concentration of parabens a manufacturer can put in a product, there aren’t limits for how many various types of parabens can be included, or how much exposure a person gets from all his or her various products. Really, there is still a lot of research being done to discover just how these chemicals may be reacting with our bodies, but in my opinion, toxic products really don’t belong on my skin.

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle: Pros
After deciding that sulfate- and paraben-free is the way to go, good ol’ TJ’s was right there for me, waiting with an affordable and high-quality option. Tea Tree Tingle serves its name well—it’s refreshing, cooling, and has a slight clean tingle to it. One great thing about Tea Tree Tingle that other sulfate-free shampoos often miss is the lathering factor. Despite its lack of sulfates, the shampoo still lathers well, which most of us are accustomed to. Finally, this shampoo cleans your hair–that’s what it’s meant to do right?! It doesn’t make any fantastic claims to give you amazing body or lift or curl or that it will make you look like a hair model, but it cleans your hair, and does it well. It leaves my hair soft and well cleaned, but not stripped of all moisture or full of conditioner build-up. In fact, the longer I’ve used this shampoo and conditioner set, the less I have to wash my hair. Once an every-day shampooing devotee, I now shampoo every-other day; Tea Tree Tingle would be to use in a low-poo or co-washing routine, too. I tribute the gentle, yet effective wash in part to the natural foaming agent (cocamidopropyl betaine) and natural preservative (grapefruit seed extract) used in Tea Tree Tingle. The more natural and effective ingredients used, the better; thanks to TJ’s Tea Tree Tingle for my naturally balanced hair oils!

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle: Cons
Unfortunately, while this product is sulfate- and paraben-free, it does list small amounts of two ingredients with debated implications for health: C12-14 olefin sulfonate and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. First, olefin sulfonate is a foaming agent related to sulfates; while olefin sulfonate is less toxic that SLS or SLES, it can also be drying. Tea Tree Tingle does list the safer, gentler cocamidopropyl betaine as a secondary foaming agent, but I wish it were the only foaming agent used here. Second, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is a preservative used in place of parabens, but can also be a skin irritant in high doses. Again, grapefruit seed is listed as a secondary preservative; I just wish it were the only preservative used. I use up my shampoo fast enough, anyway!Bear in mind that I can speak only for my hair, which I mentioned has been thin and lifeless; should you have hair that is thick and full of life (congratulations!) I would still suggest giving Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle a shot, as it’s the best and most affordable sulfate- and paraben-free shampoo and conditioner I’ve tried.

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle: Ingredients
Shampoo: Aqua (purified water) with *tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) oil, *peppermind (mentha piperita) oil, *eucalyptus (eucalyptus officinalis) oil, *rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) oil, *nettle (urtica dioica) oil, *thyme (thymus vulgaris) oil, birch leaf (betula alba) oil, *chamomile (anthemis nobilis flower), *clar

y (salvia sclarea), *lavender (lavandula angustifolia), *coltsfoot leaf (tussilago fargara), *yarrow (achillea millefolium) oil, *mallow (malva sylvestris), *horsetail (equisetum arvense) oil, *soybean protein (glycine soja), C12-14 olefin sulfonate (coconut derived), cocamidopropyl betaine, Tocopherol (vitamin E), trace minerals, citric acid (corn), sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, sodium chloride (sea salt), grapefruit seed (citrus derived). *organic

Aqua (purified water) with *tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) oil, *peppermind (mentha piperita) oil, *eucalyptus (eucalyptus officinalis) oil, *rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) oil, *nettle (urtica dioica) oil, *thyme (thymus vulgaris) oil, birch leaf (betula alba) oil, *chamomile (anthemis nobilis flower), *clary (salvia sclarea), *lavender (lavandula angustifolia), *coltsfoot leaf (tussilago fargara), *yarrow (achillea millefolium) oil, *mallow (malva sylvestris), *horsetail (equisetum arvense) oil, *soybean protein (glycine soja), cetyl alcohol (plant derived), Tocopherol (vitamin E), trace minerals, citric acid (corn), sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, grapefruit seed (citrus derived). *organic

Originally posted 2013-01-15 00:42:00.

Natural Product Review: Trader Joe's Nourish Facial Cleaner & Moisturizer

Trader Joe’s Nourish Facial Cleanser & Moisturizer: Pros
I knew I wanted a gentle, rich cleanser because it would be better for my oily skin, but I still wasn’t sure if the Trader Joe’s Nourish skin care line would do the trick. I thought maybe it would be too gentle, and I was skeptical at its claim to be an “exfoliant.” If a face wash exfoliates, doesn’t it need to have little chunks of something to rub the dead skin cells off? It’s turns out the answer is no. Harsh cleansers with chemicals or scrubbing gritty pieces are really too rough for facial skin; using cleansers that rely on grit to exfoliate is like taking sandpaper to your face! It kind of feels like you’re really getting the dirt out, but the truth is that a gentle, nourishing wash and a little patience will have a much healthier and more lasting effect.

A little patience? By that I mean that I’ve been using this cleanser and moisturizer set for over a year now, and my face has never been healthier. The longer I use it, the more I love it. I didn’t see much of a difference at first, but after 6-8 weeks of washing and moisturizing morning and night, I noticed a dramatic difference: clearer, brighter, tighter, and more balanced skin!
These products definitely work hand-in-hand—I’ve noticed the best results when using both Nourish products consistently. I’ve also found that it’s important to apply the antioxidant-rich moisturizer before applying any other creams or oils. After washing, your pores are open to soak up the benefits of the Nourish moisturizer, which, by the way, are plentiful. Both the face wash and the moisturizer contain nutrients your skin will love, such as coenzyme Q10, green tea, and vitamins A, D3, B5, E and K. The moisturizer has even more to absorb: aloe vera, chamomile, pomegranate, and coffee extract too! All this plus both are paraben-, sulfate-, petroleum-, and fragrance-free. Totaling in at about $12 makes TJ’s Nourish skin care line a win-win.

Trader Joe’s Nourish Facial Cleanser & Moisturizer: Cons
One small setback on this pair is that since it contains retinol (vitamin A), it could make your skin more sensitive to sun. This is because retinol encourages skin cell turnover, thus decreasing fine lines and improving skin texture, but the new skin it generates is delicate. Unlike many cosmetic products, TJ’s Nourish skin care line isn’t claiming to be “anti-aging” or “skin-renewing” and retinol is listed at the bottom of the ingredients list on the moisturizer, which is more highly absorbed than the cleanser. This tells me it’s not something to be very worried about; although, if it’s a concern to you, it could be used only in the evening or as a wintertime skin care routine.

Trader Joe’s Nourish Facial Cleanser & Moisturizer: Ingredients
Nourish All-in-One Facial Cleanser: Water (Aqua), Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Disodium PEG-12 Dimethicone Sulfosccinate, Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q-10, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) Extract, Copper Peptides, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid.

Nourish Antioxidant Facial Moisturizer: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Ethylhexyl (Octyl) Palmitate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Polysorbate-60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Xanthan Gum (Thickener), Tocopherol (Antioxidant), Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Solluble Collagen, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Palmitate), Punica Grantatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitan Stearate, Phytonadione (Vitamin K1), Menadione (Vitamin K3), Hydrolyzed Silk, DMAE (Dimethylamnoethanol), Copper PCA, Retinol (Vitamin A), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), Thioctic Acid (a-Lipoic Acid), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), Polysorbate-20, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Phospholipids.

Originally posted 2013-03-20 00:53:00.