I do a lot of posts on the blog about hair loss, because it’s something I get asked about a lot, as many people suffer from some sort of hair loss during or after an eating disorder. Understandably – it’s devastating losing your hair and when it happens you feel like you’ll do anything to ‘fix’ it.
Having recently regrown my hair from a fairly bad bout of hair loss last Summer, (not fully regrown, just a thick 3 inch fringe of baby hairs!) and finding recently my body is struggling with the combined effects of winter and my anxiety, I have been back reading up on the negative effects of using chemicals artificial entities such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Silicones which are widely present in commercial shampoos and are less than good for scalp health.
I knew this before, of course – I even bought a Morocco Method shampoo which was lovely but just didn’t have the familiar old gloopy consistency I knew and loved from a shampoo. I’m not very patient and have a very short attention span, so in all honesty I gave it a couple of washes and gave up, without giving it the time I’ve heard is needed to really go for ‘no-poo’. After I gave up I completely forgot about it and went back to using expensive chemical products!
I went on holiday with my beautiful friend Faye in October. We have very similar hair types – sleek, brown, difficult to get body into (she likes it that way, I don’t!) She lives in Spain, so when she came over I hadn’t seen her for a good few months. And her hair was amazing – so amazing in fact I couldn’t stop looking at it and messing with it and asking her how she’d managed to get hair like that. This was a role reversal for us because when we met years ago at college, she always used to ask me about my hair, which at the time was so thick and long (that’s how I know it’s not how it should be now!).
She told me that because of the hot weather and not having to see anybody in Spain, she was only washing her hair once a week. For the rest of the time, it was up in a bun. She hardly ever used conditioner and attributed the massive growth, beautiful condition and thickness down to a combination of the sun and no-washing. Now I can’t magic the sun to the UK (I can’t tell you how much I wish I could!) but I did immediately cut my washing down from every other day (3-4 times a week) to just once a week. Yep it hasn’t always been pretty but my hair is getting used to it now – and dry shampoo is my saviour on any particularly dodgy in-between days!
Coupled with this revelation, my recent research had frightened me again into thinking that maybe using chemicals on my hair (and everywhere, really) might be harming my body in more ways than I realised, and I wanted to go further to getting back my beautiful college hair.
Google ‘natural shampoo’ and you’ll find all sorts. Google ‘no poo’ and you’ll also find all sorts – but mostly you’ll find a lot of people talking about Baking Powder (or Baking Soda) and Apple Cider Vinegar. Neither of which I really fancied putting on my hair! Baking powder just sounded like it would be too harsh, and the vinegar element had me worrying I’d be walking around smelling like a bag of salt and vinegar crisps.
I did a little more research and came across this excellent post by Kanelstrand. Basically, she found that actually, this method is not so good at all because baking powder is very acidic, even when dissolved with plenty of water. It’s especially one to avoid if you are suffering acute hair loss.
So what to do now? Well I googled natural shampoo (again) and found lots that weren’t natural and a few that were. Some of these were bars, like bars of soap – something I hadn’t thought of using since I was very much younger and had one from Lush and one from the Body Shop. These bars are 100% natural, so they shouldn’t damage your hair or scalp and also contain ingredients which should aid in combatting hair loss.
I’ve come to the conclusion personally that if you are only washing your hair once a week as I do, you’re virtually ‘no-poo’ anyway. If you can choose a shampoo which is as saintly as it possibly can be, but that you enjoy using, then at least that is better than washing your hair every day or every other day and stripping it with chemicals regularly. Korres, The Body Shop and Organix have natural, silicone and sulfate-free ranges so browse the internet and try a few to see which one is your favourite. You might already be using one! In between washes I also use Klorane sensitive natural dry shampoo – it adds loads of body, keeps hair soft and clean and is easy on the scalp and hair.
In my last post about what to do when you’re losing your hair, I talk about the best standard shampoo ranges on offer (which all contain chemicals – however some are highly effective). But if you do want to go down the all-natural route, you can read my updated ‘What to do’ post here. Let me know how you get on!
Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!