by Zara Mohammed, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 17th August, 2018
If you struggle with bad hair days and want to discover a potential solution, whether your hair is dry and damaged, greasy, dull, lifeless or thinning, read on to find out why you should ditch your hair products.
Have you ever switched to a new shampoo, conditioner or hair product and been wowed by the miracle it has performed on your hair? It's brilliant right? But have you ever wondered if it's actually possible for a product to completely change the condition of your entire head of hair in just one application? Let me let you in on a secret - It's not!
If bad hair products and heat from hair appliances have damaged your hair over time, there is no way that one application of a "miracle cure" hair product is going to fix all of that overnight. If it appears that you have found the one product that has indeed performed this miracle, I can guarantee you that it contains an ingredient called "silicones".
Essentially silicones in hair products act exactly like a plastic layer that coats each of your hair strands, leaving your hair feeling silky, smooth and manageable. When you apply a new hair product that contains silicones, and many of them do, you will instantly experience that just come out of a salon feeling, and your hair will feel all brand new again.
The problem with silicones is that when you wash your hair there will always be residual traces of those silicones left on your hair, and over time this builds up and weighs your hair down. Silicones are also a sealant, which means that they don't allow air or moisture to penetrate the hair naturally, and this means that the hair shaft becomes a magnet for dust and dirt, making it look dull and gritty. Because your hair won't be able to get any moisture over time, it will also become brittle and break more easily.
If after a while your miracle cure hair products don't seem to be working their magic as well as they used to, and those bad hair days are returning full force, the reason for it is the build up of this plastic-like material on your hair!
The other problem with silicones is that they are hydrophobic. This means that they don't wash out easily. So by the end of the day your hair is feeling gross and therefore you will want to wash it much more frequently. Washing your hair everyday is not good for your hair. Which leads me onto the sulphates that are probably in your shampoo and causing even more of your problems.
Many shampoos contain sulphates, which are needed in order to clarify your hair. By clarify, I mean clean your hair of dirt, grease, grime, and of course those pesky silicones. The problem with sulphates though is that they also completely strip your individual hairs and scalp of sebum. Sebum is name given to the natural oils that your skin and scalp produce to coat, condition and protect your body and hair.
When you wash your hair it will be left feeling dry and limp, which is why we then have to use conditioner. Conditioner aims to add back in the moisture your hair needs to stop it from getting brittle and becoming damaged. The problem with conditioners is that firstly they often contain those dreaded silicones, and secondly you will also need to add a hair product of some sort in order to be able to manipulate and style your hair as it dries, because you have no natural oils left on your strands, which would normally help your hair to be strong, shiny and malleable.
So as you can see this is a vicious cycle, probably designed by the industry to make you buy, not only shampoo, but also conditioner and a variety of hair products, and of course use them all way more regularly than you should have to.
I tried out an experiment. For one whole month I decided to quit using hair products, completely.
First of all I had to clarify my hair to remove anything that was on it, and then for one whole month I only washed my hair using water. This is called the "Water Only Hair Washing Method".
My aim was to let my hair do what it does naturally, in order to restore its natural health and beauty.
I used this method for one month, and what I found was that my hair went on a little journey. At first it was very dry and flyaway, because it had been stripped of all products and my natural sebum. Then it developed its natural body and began to look pretty healthy, because the natural sebum was beginning to coat and protect my hair strands. Towards the end of my experiment though, my hair became very difficult to manage. It was extremely heavy and dull, possible due to a build up of the waxy component of the sebum, which is more difficult to wash out, and I think this was attracting more dirt and dust into my hair. My hair was sticking together and I literally could barely comb through it in the shower at the very end.
So this was the point where I decided to end my experiment. It was time to find a natural shampoo and conditioner that contains no sulphates or silicones, so that I could wash out the build up of natural waxy sebum in my hair and find out if my hair had benefited.
My hair is now absolutely beautiful. It feels shiny, and strong and healthy because essentially it has just had the equivalent of a month long natural hair oil mask!
My thoughts on whether or not you should ditch your hair products are definitely along the lines of - Yes go for it, at least for a few weeks, or even a month!
Washing your hair with just water will allow your body to naturally heal your hair. It is a fun and fascinating process, and you will only know what its like if you try it. There are many people online who claim to be able to use the water only hair washing method all of the time.
For me, the reason I think it didn't work in the long term the way it potentially should have done was due to me living in a city where the water supply isn't that great. Hard water that is full of chemicals is a problem. Also I have naturally curly hair, and I found it very difficult trying to distribute the sebum from my scalp down to the ends of my hair every day. It was time consuming and quite tricky because I couldn't brush my hair while it was dry.
I was surprised that my head and hair didn't smell bad at all, even though I only used water to wash it for a whole month. The fact that my hair feels like it has benefited so much from allowing it to absorb all of my natural hair oils every day for such a long amount of time does make me want to try this again in the future. And I definitely don't feel like I need to wash my hair as often as I used to.