A student who hasn’t washed her hair in two years says it looks healthier than ever since she adopted the ‘no poo method’.
Iiris Heikkinen, 24, used to wash her hair every day but said it was “too clean”, leaving her with a dry and itchy scalp.
She decided to swap her organic products for apple vinegar and baking soda, which are supposed to absorb the dirt and grease, but after doing some research decided to take things a step further after discovering some ‘no poo method’ groups on Facebook .
The growing movement, which is popular among wellness bloggers, sees followers ditch shampoo and conditioner, believing that the hair can cleanse itself using natural oils.
Now, Iiris, of Inari, Finland, uses nothing except water – and a dab of coconut oil once every couple of months – and says she has never looked back.
She explained: “After just a couple of weeks of the no poo method, the itching stopped. There was a point at first where my hair looked greasy, but I pushed through it and it soon went back to normal.
“Now, when people meet me, they have no idea I don’t use shampoo. When I tell them, they are always surprised and say how healthy and clean my hair looks.”
Eco-aware Iiris, who is studying for a masters degree in primary education, explained that, previously, she would wash her hair every few days using organic shampoo and conditioner.
She added: “I have always been mindful of the environment, and so started using organic cosmetics when I got to university as, living in a big city then, there was more choice.
“I believe it’s far better to use organic products. It’s better for the environment, it’s kinder as there is no animal testing and it also feels healthier to know you are only using natural ingredients and not putting any harsh chemicals on your skin or hair.”
But Iiris still found that her scalp would itch terribly and she believed this was caused by shampoo stripping it of its natural oils.
So, in the autumn of 2017, she began looking for alternatives.
She continued: “I Googled things like, ‘How to wash your hair without shampoo’ and eventually came across some no poo method Facebook groups.
“Everyone was swapping tips and advice, so I read up about all their experiences. Lots of people recommended trying apple cider vinegar or baking soda instead.”
In September 2017, Iiris threw away the shampoo and conditioner for good, becoming a fully-fledged follower of the no poo method.
The thinking behind the movement is that the over-use of chemicals – some of which may be harmful, according to the non-profit Environmental Working Group, who have put together a database where users can check the ingredients of their cosmetics – renders the hair unable to naturally clean itself.
“There were a few weeks of it looking greasy,” she admitted. “But around the same time, I was in hospital having surgery for some ongoing health problems, so I really wasn’t thinking about my hair anyway.
“I was never temped to wash it. I don’t know exactly how long it took for the greasy phase to pass, but by the time I’d recovered from surgery and was going back out and about again in January, my hair looked normal.”
Now, Iiris simply washes her hair with water whenever she has a shower, and only very occasionally uses a dab of coconut oil or neem leaf powder – a type of herb used in ancient Indian medicine – to give extra conditioning if she is has a dandruff flare up, or talcum powder to help style her locks by adding extra texture.
Though her tresses were in fairly good condition anyway as she rarely used hairdryers or straighteners, she has noted that they appear thicker and wavier since she ditched shampoo.
Interestingly, the colour of her hair has also slightly changed and looks more of a natural blonde.
As many of her friends are equally eco-minded, she does not face much criticism for her decision to shun hair products – but does recall one occasion where she was asked by a friend if her hair smelled.
“That seems to be a big misconception,” she said. “Of course, it’s pretty hard to smell my own scalp, but to me, it smells completely neutral and I’ve certainly never had any comments on it.
“If you met me, you’d have no idea I don’t use shampoo.
“When people find out, they are really surprised, so that should show that it’s easy to still be hygienic. They often say my hair looks better than if I had used shampoo.”
The only time Iiris’ hair needs slightly more rigorous washing than usual is after she has used a sauna – a major part of Finnish culture.
She continued: “Living in Finland, we have a lot of saunas, so obviously you sweat. When I’ve been in one, I’ll still use just water but find it sometimes takes a couple of washes for my hair to look normal.
“I love the no poo method, but I understand everyone’s hair, and lifestyles are different, so I can’t say if it’s right for everyone.
“For example, if you are somebody that exercises loads and sweats a lot, maybe using just water won’t be right for you. That isn’t me though, I’m not someone who trains in the gym every single day.”
Extolling the virtues of her product-free hair regime, Iiris says she is unlikely to ever pick the shampoo bottle up again.
She concluded: “It has made life so much easier – even things you wouldn’t think about, like travelling. Now, I don’t have to worry about carrying round all these different bottles of product with me.
“I love the environmental benefits too. I’m not using any plastic, that will get thrown away and wind up in the ocean.
“To anyone else out there wanting to give no poo a try, I’d say go for it. Why not?
“My hair looks and feels healthier than ever, and I don’t miss shampoo at all.”
Organic hairdresser Tabitha James Kraan added: “To go ‘no poo’ is possible, for sure. I believe that hair is indeed self-cleaning when left alone, or at least when the oil is not removed. Then the hair is able to stay healthy and balanced.
The problem is that most of us have been washing our hair with highly chemical detergents, whose job it is to remove all traces of oil, like a de-greasant.
When they strip away all of the oil our bodies respond (very cleverly) by putting it back and in doing so create a greasy hair situation.
This makes the “no poo” method a challenge as you have to go through a very smelly and unpleasant period whilst the body is rebalancing.”
To learn about Iiris’ hair method on Instagram @iirislinneawriter