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in collaboration with Eco Hair and Beauty and Green Salon Collective // funding from UK Research and Innovation // support from L'Oréal, Wella, Aveda and Toni & Guy // research assistance from Stephanie Hodgson
ECO TIP 12: True or false: Washing hair everyday with shampoo and conditioner is good for the hair and scalp.
False! Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo more often than is ideal or even necessary. A full haircare routine every single say means your hair and scalp are being exposed to too much hot water and chemicals.
Read on for:
Shampoo contains chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate which strip the oil from the hair (made worse if water is too hot) and can be very harsh on your skin and hair.
EXPERT TIP: Washing hair in tepid or lukewarm water rather than hot water is better for the follicles and overall hair condition. It is also less ageing on the skin and less likely to irritate the skin especially if using shampoo or shower gels, which often contain harsh chemicals.
Obviously you will use less shampoo and conditioner by washing and conditioning your hair less often but the real savings are in your bills. Reducing the amount/frequency of washing your hair can result in cost savings as electricity and water usage is reduced.
Heating water is the most expensive thing we do in our homes – a hot shower costs between 50 and 100 times more per minute than leaving the television or computer on for example.
EXPERT TIP: Wash your hair in tepid or lukewarm water rather than hot water – this also saves money!
Water is becoming a scarce resource (yes even in the UK!) so shampooing less saves water.
Also, heating water produces greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, if you shampoo, rinse and repeat using running hot water for 8 minutes every day, this amounts to approximately 7kg of CO2 emissions per week.
If you shampoo just once, reducing your hot water running time by 2 minutes and just shampooing once a week (supplemented by a dry shampoo midweek) the carbon footprint goes down to 0.75 Kg of CO2 – you haven’t just reduced your carbon footprint by ten or twenty per cent – you are now ten times more eco-friendly.
Using leave-in conditioner rather than showering whilst using traditional conditioner can reduce your water usage and carbon footprint.
1: Simplifying your haircare routie saves time. If you share bathroom with others this can be a real bonus!
2. Most products like shampoo and conditioner contain palm oil which is associated with deforestation, climate change, air pollution and habitat loss. Pay attention to the ingredients list!
3. Often you can get several more shampoos and conditions out of the container by rinsing with water and swirling around. This also dilutes the product making it kinder to the hair and skin.
Using dry shampoo instead of always shampooing your hair (especially in hot water) can be good for hair as it doesn’t strip natural oils from your scalp. Using it can also save your hair from being blow dried too often which can make hair brittle.
Dry shampoo can make it easier for you to style your hair and can give it volume! It can even reduce colour fade. The cost savings of using dry shampoo once a week over a year saves approximately £80 per household. As for the environment, using dry shampoo can actually help to reduce your water usage and emissions.
The most notable beauty benefit is that leave-in conditioner can give body to fine hair. Some people find that leave-in conditioner makes their hair easier to style. It can also reduce colour fade. Just think: less rinsing out conditioner, less rinsing out dyes.
Using leave-in conditioner rather than showering whilst using traditional conditioner can save on your energy and water bills. Heating water uses an enormous amount of energy so anything you do to reduce your shower time will have a significant impact on your wallet and on the planet.
Scientists are increasingly realising that our body and skin is protected by its own healthy bacteria which fights off germs and viruses. Therefore if we wash too long with too many chemicals, not only are we washing off unwanted bacteria – we are washing off our skin’s natural protective bacteria.
Many people are switching to probiotic cleaning products which have been proven in tests to work for much longer than conventional anti-bacterial cleaning products for just that reason – a recent study showed that probiotic cleaners and soap were more effective at dealing with harmful bacteria than detergent.
Just as overuse of antibiotics can destroy your body's ‘good’ gut bacteria, too many washing products like shampoo and shower gel can impair the effectiveness of your skin’s natural ‘good’ bacteria. Hair colour and bleach is especially harsh.
Many cleaning products, not just shampoos and shower gels, but also detergents that include ammonia and/or bleach are toxic and release volatile organic compounds that can be bad for our health. In tests, simple baking powder and white vinegar is almost always at least as effective as the harsh detergents, and much cheaper and less toxic to our health and the environment.
Some people swear by going without shampoo at all and others have tried and find their hair becomes lank – we are all different and also what works with our hair changes as we get older. Some people have deliberately trained their hair to be washed and conditioned less and less and find that after an adjustment period their hair is the same or even better for it. Hair does adjust over time and learns to produce fewer oils when product use is reduced.
If you try shampooing and/or conditioning less – please let us know how it went - we’d love to hear your experiences.