Aisling on Beauty: The ‘no-poo’ method for springier curls

The central tenet of this approach involves ditching shampoo entirely

Lorraine Massey, also known as the Curly Girl. Photograph: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Rush For Literacy

Lorraine Massey, also known as the Curly Girl. Photograph: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Rush For Literacy

 

I first heard about the no shampoo (or no-poo) method of cleansing hair about 10 years ago from a friend who was a fan of Lorraine Massey, also known as the Curly Girl.

Massey had developed a method to tame curls and frizz by treating hair gently, with no harsh chemicals or heat.

The central tenet of this approach involved ditching shampoo entirely, air-drying and learning to embrace curls and make the most of them. The result was perfectly soft and shiny ringlets. My friend’s hair was gorgeous.

Massey’s theory was founded on the principle that curly hair is much drier than straight hair. As conditioners often contain a tiny amount of cleansing agent anyway, she felt this was sufficient to keep hair clean without subjecting it to harsher, chemically loaded shampoos. Anything containing sulphate ingredients such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and its derivatives, which make shampoo foam, was to be particularly avoided.

A few years later, when the no-poo approach began to gain popularity, I recognised it as part of the Curly Girl method. It made sense that this practice was becoming more widely used, as many women with coloured and over-processed hair have the same brittleness, dryness and frizz problems as curly girls.

The craze for chemical hair-straightening techniques such as the 12-week blow-dry, keratin straightening and the Brazilian blow-dry had caused irreparable damage to women’s hair everywhere.

The havoc wreaked by these treatments convinced more and more people that using harsh chemicals was no way to look after their crowning glory. Hair-care routines began to be simplified and a lot of women chose to ditch the shampoo.

As soon as this trend began to take hold, cosmetic companies were on to it like a shot. They swiftly renamed the tongue-in-cheek abbreviation no-poo the much tamer co-wash (conditioner wash). These products are now usually named something such as cleansing conditioner.

Co-washing is set to hit the mainstream. The DevaCurl range (available from Amazon), Deciem Grow Gorgeous, the Wen range, Palmer’s Olive Oil Formula Co-Wash, Pantene Pro-V Truly Natural Hair Co-Wash and L’Oréal Evercreme Cleansing Conditioner (all available online) are well established.

Or you can just do what Massey advises; use your regular conditioner in place of shampoo. Make sure you really massage your scalp to loosen dirt before you rinse and avoid heated styling aids such as the blow-dryer and the straightener.

  • amcdermott@irishtimes.com
  • Twitter @aismcdermott
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