Here’s a funny fact: The original title for No More Dirty Looks was actually Dirty Girls Come Clean. Can I just take a moment to give thanks that a legal conflict prevented us from writing a book that sounded like a porn flick? Bullet. Dodged.
But, just for fun, if we were to reimagine that porny title now with 20-20-hindsight, it would probably sound more like this: Clean Girls Get Dirty.
That’s because, promise as we did to each other that we would not devolve into dirty hippies as we rid our cosmetics’ bags of nasty chemicals, we did in fact end up embracing some slightly controversial cleansing (or more accurately, non-cleansing) habits.
Well, controversial no more! These days no matter where I turn, I see the mainstream media embracing dirtier beauty habits. Not shampooing has become an especially popular experiment among the beauty editor set, and when I recently wrote a post about not washing my face for MindBodyGreen, I was shocked by the response. It would appear that the people just might want to get dirty.
And speaking of MBG (are any of you as addicted as I am to this site?), I recently attended their groundbreaking revitalize event (think TED talks for the health and wellness crowd), and was pleased to learn that there’s increasing scientific muscle behind this less-washing-is-more movement.
Author Dr Robynne Chutkan, author of Gutbliss and one of my biggest brain crushes of the weekend, started her lecture by telling the 100-person audience (and millions online) that she had not showered for several days.
It turns out that exposing ourselves to a little dirt is not just good for our complexions and hair—because we’re no longer stripping those nourishing oils—but also for our guts. And of course what’s good for our guts, is also in turn great for our complexions and hair. You’ll have to read Chutkan’s book—I just ordered it—to better understand the science on this, but the woman is definitely a genius. (And it doesn’t hurt her argument that she’s stunning too.)
For my part, years after our first experiments, I have held on dearly to some of my dirtier habits. These include skipping daily showers in favor of every second or third day (unless I’m in summer heat, in which case I’ll jump in there several times a day), almost never washing my face (making an exception only for a product that’s made from actual “dirt”) and washing my hair about 3 or 4 times a year. So far, no serious complaints from friends, family, or colleagues.
How about you? What dirty habits are in your clean routine?
If you read the book, or have been on this blog for a while, you might already know that I almost never wash my hair with shampoo. My hair is super dry and curly, and experimenting with the (unfortunately named) “no poo” technique has done wonders for its health.
Do I ever wash it? Well my husband happens to like my hair huge and fluffy (and fuzzy), bless his soul, but I like when the curls are a little more weighed down and defined—as most girls with curls tend to. So to compromise, every several months I’ll throw a little Acure in there to make the old man happy, and sort of start fresh—though that shampoo is so non-stripping that it doesn’t feel like a zero sum game. Nonetheless, I usually regret the wash for the first few days!
Anyways, blahblahblah me, one of our readers has an important question for us about this whole washing your hair less thing. And I know I’m not the only expert on the matter, so here’s her email:
I’m trying to work my way into clean products and washing my hair less. I was originally an every day hair washer. My question is: do you have any advice for those heavily involved in sports? I enjoy triathlons, so I’m running, swimming, or biking 5 to 6 times a week. I’d love to make less hair washing a permanent part of my lifestyle, but am not sure how to accomplish that with the sweat and chlorine! Any ideas?
What do you guys think? I’m pretty active sometimes, but I still feel clean when I rinse in the shower with conditioner. That’s my main technique. Though in the early days I did use a teeny-tiny bit of baking soda in water when my hair felt unbearably dirty, as well as apple cider vinegar as a rinse.
Who has ideas for this gal?
Among the strange and regrettable things that I did to my hair between the ages of, oh, 12 and 30, were semi-regular VO5 Hot Oil Treatments. Who among you remembers this deep-conditioning concoction? Just for laughs, I pulled up the ingredient list (which probably hasn’t changed in 30 years)—and Oof…
I’m not sure what shocks me more 1) the fact that there’s not really any oil listed, or 2) that there’s actually aloe vera high up on this otherwise unpronounceable list.
Anyways, I used to love warming that little bendy plastic bottle (itself likely filled with BPA and phthalates) in scolding water, and then pour the stuff all over my sopping wet head. From there, on went a plastic bag for minutes (hours?) of sitting, as this stuff seeped into my young and vulnerable brain scalp. Le sigh. While I have no recollection as to whether this treatment had any effects beyond placebo, I did love the idea of deep conditioning my hair—a ritual I’ve lost sight of in my cleaner years.
Unfortunate really, since deep conditioning was made for my type of dry unruly hair. You’d think I’d be soaking up the argan and coconut oil on a nightly basis, and yet as much as I love natural oils everywhere on my face and body—I actually despise the feeling and results of oil in my hair. Note: I’m not talking about a little argan on the tips, which I do like, but a full oil soak like they give you during those otherwise amazing ayurvedic massages I rave about. Anyways, I’m getting to a point here I swear!
See, a little while back a reader asked—nay begged!—that we crowdsource on this very topic. Lindsey, you see, is trying to grow her hair long, and desperate for your tips on how to get beautiful shiny, conditioned hair sans the chems. Which got me thinking: I wouldn’t mind some recommendations myself.
What I do know, Lindsey, is that washing less—or almost not at all—can seriously improve hair luster for some. Though depending on the nature of your hair it can also turn it to a greasy mess for a period. Otherwise I’m a big believer in eating healthy fats for skin and hair.
What about you guys? Are we deep conditioning? Are we using oils, or just leaving in our favorite natural conditioner for a spell—maybe making our own mix with avocados?
We haven’t posted one of these in a while! Today’s morning star is Lauren—and as a fellow dirty curly living in dry LA, I can relate to this simple (but lovely) routine. Do you wash your hair? And if not, what are some of your best tips for those looking to give the no-poo practice a try? I’ve personally taken to doing a very “light wash” with Acure once every three months or so—using a tiny bit of shampoo at the roots—just to kind of reset the clocks, without stripping. What’s your wash or not routine?
Current weather: The Valley outside of LA. Very hot with limited humidity.
Hair: Dyed shoulder-length curly hair.
Skin: Normal with occasionally breakouts on chin (usually hormone or stress-related), pale complexion.
Favorite star or icon from the past: Audrey Hepburn for her flawless style and sophistication (if only she didn’t have an un-diagnosed eating disorder, she would be the ultimate role-model!).
In the shower…
I switched to no-poo shampoo about 4 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. I switched because I heard it was better for curly hair. I used to just use conditioner with weekly baking soda rinses, but now I switched to baking soda and apple cider rinses about 3 times a week. I comb out my hair in the shower to detangle without causing frizz. I use Dr. Bronner’s Shikakai Peppermint Body Soap or Nubian Heritage Coconut Papaya Soap. I tend to focus it on my dirtier or smellier parts and save homemade coconut-sugar scrub for the rest. The coconut oil is also great as a shaving cream, although it clogs up my razor. It also lasts after my shower as a moisturizer!
Outside the shower…
I gently dry my hair with a microfiber cloth to minimize frizz. I spray a homemade hair gel of aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, vanilla extract, and essential orange oil into my hair to help define curls. On my face, I apply argan oil as a base layer, than DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer (SPF 30) to my face and neck. I use Badger Unscented SPF 30 lotion for the rest of my body for it. I use Weleda Skin Food to moisturizer throughout the day. I apply Burt’s Bees Cuticle Cream or Badger Balm to moisturizer my nails and cuticles to keep them healthy.
I often only wear mascara and eyeliner (if that) and my current favorites are Zosimos Botanicals in Branch and Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Nautral Origin Lash Boosting Mascara in Ultra Black. I used to use benefit Babe Cake liner, but it doesn’t have clean ingredients and it was discontinued. I plan on buying Nvey Eco Organic Cake Eyeliner in Black when I get the chance. My favorite eye shadow is Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Eye Shadow Duo in Hazel Eyes. It applies subtly, so I can build it up to the intensity I desire. I also have added RMS Living Lumizier to my routine. I have been using the Thai Crystal deodorant and really like it. I’ve tried Soapwalla and Lavanila Healthy Deodorant, but neither worked for me. I carry Weleda Citris Deodorant Spray to freshen up if I feel sweaty or stinky later in the day. I am currently switching to non-toxic nail polish and I love Priti NYC nail polish remover, which is a soy-based remover. I plan on trying HoneyBee Garden corn-based nail polish remover when I run out.
Thanks Lauren! And don’t forget to send in your routines to nomoredirtylooks at gmail dot com, with GOOD MORNING in the subject.
That’s one way to put it, right? Rage? I guess once Robert Pattinson is doing something it’s fair to say it’s reached a kind of critical mass, but that doesn’t mean the no-shampoo trend has been getting any love from women’s magazines, the pages of which are usually filled with ads for and articles about, well, shampoo. I should say upfront that I do wash my hair still. I wash it all the time. But regular readers will know Alexandra doesn’t, and we’re both advocates of less is more beauty in any form it takes—which is why I was delighted when I was flipping through the new W the other night before bed and came across a story called…The Great Unwashed! Never mind that that’s the same headline the New York Times used for their story on the same(ish) topic—this two-page featurette by Christa D’Souza was absolutely charming and chronicled her funny six-week adventure with dirty hair.
Alexandra and I have noticed—and we’re generalizing here—that when most magazines tackle naturals, one of two things happens:
1) They hawk greenwashed products that have leaves on the bottle or something, and then mix those in with truly natural or organic lines, which confuses readers; or
2) They take a snide this-stuff-is-for-hippies-and-conspiracy-theorists-only approach. We are neither (OK maybe we’re hippies), and so we don’t love this.
But this piece didn’t fall into those traps. Let’s take a look:
The theory is this: Shampoo strips hair of sebum, the oily substance secreted by our scalps to ward off bacteria and wetness. To compensate, we produce too much of the stuff, leading to the dreaded greasy look. In an attempt to remedy that problem, we lather even more frequently, and soon our ends are dry and frizzy, necessitating the use of conditioner and other expensive and time-consuming unguents. We are all, in other words, hamsters on the chemical-products wheel, and if we want to get off we must cut out, or at least curtail, their use.
Right? Right! There’s more:
Modern shampoo as we know it was first widely available in the 1930s, and although formulations have fluctuated, its basic components remain the same: salt; a lathering agent; and surfactant, a chemical that allows oil and water molecules to mix. And, of course, there’s the added fragrance. If you like the smell of clean hair, don’t be fooled: It’s not the clean you’re smelling.
Love that she points out the cycle of overuse that some products create, the relatively new invention of shampoo, and the fragrance thing. From there she funnily describes the next six weeks of her hair life, and while she decides this most certainly isn’t for her—the piece ends with “after six long weeks, I’m back on the bottle—and it feels marvelous”—we like that she gave it a shot, and we like W for giving it a shot, too. Now here’s hoping whatever bottle she went back to was from our friends Alaffia or John Masters or Aubrey.
So what about you. Do you wash your hair?