Whilst washing our hair has been part of our lives for thousands of years, the advent of ‘shampooing’ as we know it today, is less than a century old.
Prior to the now well known detergent based shampoo, our ancestors used soap when washing their hair. The frequency of washing ranged from every two weeks to once per month. Soap is highly alkaline (approx pH 8-9) and quite adverse to the natural pH of the hair and scalp (pH 5 – 5.5). Therefore, using it to wash the hair not only raises the cuticles of the hair strand (outer layer) making it frizzy, it also causes the hair to appear dull.
Surfactant based shampoo waltzed into our lives around the 1930s, this move slowly ushered out the use of soap and ushered in the use of synthetic detergents. Whilst this change was true innovation, it brought with it a number of hair issues that are prevalent today, ranging from dry, damaged hair to dry, flaky scalp.
You see, the main aim of a detergent is to break down grease, dirt and oil for easy removal from the surface. In the industrial age that was a great thing, it made quick work of sloughing away thick grease and dirt, however, we’ve long past that time now. Synthetic detergent shampoos clean very effectively, they do exactly what they were designed for. The problem lies in the harshness of the chemicals on the scalp.
Using a synthetic, sulfate based shampoo is an assault on your scalp.
The scalp produces oil to keep it nourished and to protect the hair strand from daily environmental ravishing. When the synthetic shampoo strip the scalp of these beneficial lipids/oils, the scalp goes into overdrive and either overproduce or underproduce natural oils, leaving you with either a extremely greasy scalp or dry, flaky scalp. Both of these issues compel you to wash more with the same thing that caused the problem, and round the ferris wheel you go.
Thanks to the invention of Artisan Cosmetic brands that came about because they’d had enough of the damage (such as Holpura), the larger companies have taken stock and are also trying to combat this issue. However, some of their efforts are half assed at best, such as using sodium laureth sulphate instead of sodium lauryl sulphate. This switch was like gambling with a two headed coin that belongs to the opponent.
The magic of sulfates is they produce a lot of foam, which we’ve become conditioned to think makes for better cleaning. It doesn’t.
Some surfactant manufacturers have listened to the quiet murmur of the people and now a vast number of milder cleansing ingredients are available to use, though some are quite pricey. The downside of most of these mild cleansing ingredients – most produce very low foam.
PSA: Low foam doesn’t mean reduced cleansing!
The cleansing power of a surfactant has nothing to do with its foam, foaming is simply a byproduct. Foaming is very dependent on the hardness of your water, hard water is notorious for reducing foam as well as the amount of oils on your hair and scalp. Foaming also takes many forms, fine, dense, large bubbles – most natural shampoos have fine and dense foam.
I don’t know about you, but I personally do not like alot of foam, there’s nothing worst than feeling like you’re drowning as you wash away the vast vat of foamy mess from your head and body. You’ve seen those prank videos when a person is rinsing shampoo from their hair by the beach and the prankster keeps adding more shampoo. You’ve seen that foam and I know you’ve felt that person’s pain because you have a similar story.
Don’t get me started on high foam facial cleansers! High foam shampoos, no thanks!
A surfactant based cleanser/shampoo cleans by forming little pockets called micelles, which are attracted to dirt and oil. The micelles attach to their target, pick them up and make it easy for them to be washed away. Therefore, the next time you purchase a natural shampoo that doesn’t foam as much as your previous synthetic ones do, don’t throw it out thinking it’s rubbish, just check how clean your scalp is afterwards.
Look out for our natural, plant based shampoos that will be launched soon. Connect with us on our Facebook page or drop us an email via the contact us page.
Until next time,
Be Great x