In a Lather About Natural Shampoos

by Hilda R. Smith
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In a Lather About Natural Shampoos

When people first make the conscientious switch to natural shampoos, they often lament the lack of lather on their locks. After years of dousing hair in a fragrant froth of bubbles, they tend to equate suds with effectiveness – but actually foam is not an essential component to cleansing.

That lather we have grown to expect in our shampoos is usually produced by synthetic petrochemical agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate – the same nasty stuff used in commercial floor cleaners. The cumulative consequences of daily exposure to these chemicals are hard to quantify, but they can certainly enter the bloodstream through our porous scalps, cause irritations and allergic reactions and are pretty harsh substances to let flow down the drain.

But let’s not get on a soap box about the environmental/health hazards of these objectionable ingredients here. This post’s focus is more about the do than the don’t. While we all want to be kind to the earth, we would rather not have this noble philosophy doom us to perpetually bad hair days, right?

The awkward truth is, many natural and organic shampoo formulations do take a little getting used to. There’s often a short transition period where your hair might seem a bit flat, dull or lackluster as it weans off its familiar chemical bath. Some note their tresses seem a tad greasy during this adjustment phase. This is because conventional shampoos that work by stripping the sebaceous oil from your hair and scalp actually trigger your head to produce more oil, setting off a vicious circle. Years of striving for “squeaky clean” locks has actually been perpetuating the problem, so understandably it takes some time to break this pattern and get your body’s natural oil production in balance.

The botanical ingredients in natural shampoos wash away dirt, flakes and grease without this stripping, drying, damaging extreme. After all, a little oil is necessary to maintain shine, bounce, elasticity and manageability. Be patient as your hair adjusts to this new healthier approach to cleanliness.

On a related note, it often takes a few washes to breakdown and detoxify your hair from the residue left over from previous product usage. You might need a special clarifying rinse like John Master’s Herbal Cider Hair Rinse Clarifier to eliminate this buildup before the natural shampoo can begin to work effectively.

Some people use an excessive dose of natural shampoo in a mistaken attempt to generate that familiar halo of bubbles. Then they complain that they run out of the product too soon and balk that the “green” brands are too pricey. But if you stick to the recommended quarter-sized dollop (or whatever the label dictates) you should find a bottle lasts a long time and is actually good value on a cost per usage basis. The trick is to wet your hair thoroughly before applying the shampoo, then massage it into the scalp for a good minute or two, really working it in there. The agitation of your finger pads along with ingredients in the formula are what clean and nourish your hair, not the lather.

A second shampooing can really make a difference in the cleanliness and effectiveness of the wash, so if they say rinse and repeat, do so. Speaking of rinsing, hard water minerals coming out your taps is more often to blame for flat, lifeless hair than the shampoo you use. Try using purified or distilled water as a final splash, and cap off your shower with a blast of cold water to help seal your cuticles.

So go on and get over your misguided desire for soapy suds. Once you persevere through the first few washes, your crowning glory will start to adapt, benefit and thrive from the wonderful pure ingredients in these natural shampoos. Here are a few recommended products:

Nourishing Shampoo by Living Nature gets its gentle natural lathering action from kumerahou, a remarkable indigenous plant from New Zealand.

Organic Herbal Shampoo by Dr. Alkaitis blends aloe vera gel, coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract and other botanicals to stimulate the scalp and nourish the hair.

Rahua Voluminous Shampoo by Amazon Beauty smells as good as it works, combining potent ingredients from the South American rainforest along with lemongrass, lavender and green tea for a refreshing clean that thickens without drying.

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