Hair (don’t) Care

This is the first post of the new ‘Beauty & Healthcare’ section of my blog. It may be the last.

Some time in early teenhood, I started to get dandruff. This coincided with the introduction to the UK of Head & Shoulders shampoo which my Mum immediately bought for me. It was a miracle cure and I’ve used it ever since. If I’ve ever stopped using it for a few days, the dandruff has returned. The active ingredient was banned for in the US. I took this as further proof that it must be really good stuff.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that my hair was getting thinner. I’d always taken ‘thinner’ to be a euphemism for ‘sparser’ but that ain’t necessarily so. When I get my hair cut these days the hairdresser says “Ooh, haven’t you got lovely fine hair?” whereas they used to say “Ooh, haven’t you got lovely thick hair”. They are in the business of making you feel good about yourself. The down-side of my new fine self was that the hair at the back-right of my head started to tangle whenever I washed it. Conditioner was prescribed.

Even more recently, I had my hair cut in the ‘short back and sides, long on top’ style like a young person. To make that work required the addition of Brylcreem. After a few months (leaving aside the trouble with bees) I washed my hair one day and just let everything flop. I discovered that my hair felt horrible. Dry. Lifeless. Flyaway? At least like it might do at any moment.

Then Woman’s Hour. There was a woman on (surprisingly) who said she hadn’t washed her hair in anything other than water for 4 years. She said she had short hair which she washed in the shower, towelled dry and combed through. Her hair care regime had been to stop caring for her hair and it didn’t seem to mind. It seemed quite capable of caring for itself. It produces oils that you comb through the hair. When you shower, any excess oils wash off, with any dirt you don’t need. I tried it and, so far, It works.

I don’t need to buy shampoo, conditioner or Brylcreem. The only downside is that your comb gets dirty quicker and when your hair is wet in the shower, you smell slightly of (clean) dog. I guess that’s what mammals smell like. Who knew? Your hair doesn’t get “squeeky clean”. I don’t think it’s supposed to. I’ve been doing this (or is that “not doing the other”?) for a couple of months now. No dandruff. Is dandruff caused by shampoo? Is the need for conditioner and stuff to keep your hair in place? Why “replenish lost oils” when you could simply not lose them in the first place?

[Update: 5/1/2015]
After another month, I felt my hair looked ‘too greasy’; not in a 14-year old who’s just discovered hair-gel way but definitely at the “Dude, perhaps a little less Brylcreem?” level.
Mrs. Woo said that the normally white hair at the sides of my head had also taken on a slightly yellow tint. I’ve seen this in the homeless but always assumed it was nicotine staining.

I used half a teaspoon-full of shampoo and got back to my normal, natural fly-away look then washed in only water for a few days until it was manageable again. I think I’ll move to a new cycle of occasional, even lighter use of shampoo to balance my hair’s natural (possibly slightly excessive) lubrication with the expectations of modern society.

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