Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stupid of the Week #9: "No-Poo"

I wasn’t kidding when I said that the paleo diet craze would end with barefoot people running around, pretending to hunt mastodons, refusing to shower and living in caves, and the paleo community isn’t kidding either when they now do all of these things. Of course being paleo is not just about, you know, being paleo. It’s also about endlessly proselytizing. It’s not enough to just go about your business doing what you think is best for your life and health personally; you have to get your friends to follow you, too. Otherwise you might look stupid when wearing these.

How does one accomplish this? Nothing attracts followers like a vast conspiracy. It allows you to simultaneously lament your group’s persecution and feel superior to all the poor sods on the outside still being duped by the system. Sometimes you get the added bonus of the conspiracy actually being real, as with the extensive government interference in our food choices. Want to drink raw milk? Hope you enjoy hoop-jumping. God help you if you want to sell it, unless of course you like being held at gun point.

Then we have the vast majority of vast conspiracies, the ones that basically consist of someone creating and marketing a product and leaving it up to the consumer to determine whether the product is right for them. The Great Shampoo Conspiracy falls in this category. A quick skim of the anti-shampoo articles out there is enough to make you think there’s some kind of massive hair-washing secret agency, complete with Suave-armed agents wiping hard drives that contain evidence that the Holocaust was really perpetrated by the hair products industry. Fear for your lives (and your follicles)!

When I first heard about the No-Poo “movement” (if it can be called that), I was intrigued, but that was because I thought it was a reference to the constipation-inducing candy sold by the Weasley twins in Harry Potter. When I realized it was really about not washing your hair, I made a mental note to mock it at some point and otherwise forgot about it.

Fast-forward to me looking for something to bitch about and reading these articles ranting about how evil shampoo companies spread lies and residue and dry scalps and how not washing your hair makes it so much shinier and manageable. Well, who wouldn’t love shiny, manageable hair? I start to hope the dirty hippies are actually right just this once so I, too, can experience a hair rebirth. I scan down to the “how to go no-poo” section of the article.

That’s when I discover that what they actually mean by “not washing your hair” is this:

1. Shampoo your hair once a week or less.
2. Rinse and condition your hair between shampoos and always condition when you shampoo.
3. Use sulfate-free shampoos.

Okay, my readers may not all have the benefit of 25 year’s experience maintaining long, gorgeous hair, so let me explain. This list is in no way different from what any hairdresser would advise you to do, certainly any hairdresser in the last twenty years and probably longer. Although some mild shampoos have advertised that you could use them every day, no one has ever seriously recommended such a practice.

You don’t have to try very hard to learn that shampooing damages hair and should be done as infrequently as possible. In fact you can just think about it. Like, with your brain.

All cleaners are bad for the material they clean, they’re just worse for the stain. They’re like chemo for fabric. For Pete’s sake, even water is destructive to any organic compound. All you have to do is think about the concept “dissolve” to realize this. You know wool, that fabric that always says “dry clean only” on the label? Know what it is? Sheep. Hair. The hair of a sheep, a farm animal that spends most of its life being exposed to the elements, is so damaged by water that it’s better to soak it in kerosene and gasoline than water. And you seriously need some anti-Panteen website to tell you this?

There’s something extra stupid about a movement that not only misstates its opponent’s positions, but its own as well, all to create the illusion of some dramatic contrast, to make an unoriginal idea seem revolutionary. One might call such a practice deceptive, or even dishonest. Hey, it might even be a conspiracy! Someone should start a website.

Peace out,

S. Misanthrope


  1. Does rain not fall on sheep?

    1. Do you really want to look like this:

  2. Actually most dermatologists do recommend you wash your hair every other day or even once a day if its naturally greasy. There are different breeds of fungus that grow from scalp oil.

    1. I deeply apologize if my post was offensive to disgusting, greasy, fungus-haired individuals. It was never my intent to alienate the differently-haired. I hope your avatar will forgive me for overlooking her demographic.

      Everyone, if you have toadstools growing on your head, consider washing more frequently. If not, continue as usual.