Why Do We Shampoo Our Hair?

Blackhair10Part I

Growing up with a dog in my childhood home I couldn’t wait to get one of my own. When I was twenty-four I went to the pound in the South End of Boston and adopted Ingemar, one of the nuttiest dogs the world has ever known.

At that time the South End of Boston was well on its way to gentrification but the park at the end of Bradford Street— where I shared a house with a number of students— was still filled with homeless people who whiled away their days on the grass, and used a small patch of a separate field accessed through a hole in a fence as their public toilet.

All too often when we let Ingemar off the leash she would make a mad dash for their bathroom and roll around in the mess with blissful abandon which was followed by a bath to rid her of the stink.

At some point I took her to the vet who remarked that her skin was dry and wondered whether I was bathing her. With my explanation he understood the reasoning but remarked that baths weren’t good for dogs as their hair and coats took care of themselves.

Part II

Fast forward a number of years to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn where I was doing yoga and going out with a girl that would be accurately described as a hippie. She mocked me a bit when she saw conditioner in my shower and wanted to know why in the world I used it.

“It makes my hair silky smooth.”

“That’s stupid. You don’t need to wash your hair let alone condition it.”

Out went the conditioner though not the shampoo.

Part III

In the last decade the overwhelming majority of my hair fell out and I gradually lost the urge to shampoo my hair. It has probably been about two years ago since my last use of shampoo and there has been no adverse consequence as a result.

And no one seemed to notice. Research online steers you towards the no-poo movement where people choose to stop washing their hair and report an initial period of grease and stink before lustrous hair becomes the norm.

If that was my case everyone was polite enough to keep it to themselves.

Part IV

While I am a rabid consumer I am averse to a world driven by profit motive and filled with products that we don’t really need. The list of that type of product has expanded in my worldview over the last decade and shows no sign of shrinking.


Sunday Morning Music: Curtis Mayfield
Stop Sleeping On Your Stomach