rinse, repeat, rinse and repeat again


I jenn levo, have a confession to make which may or may not make me a bad American. Depending on what side of the fence you sit on, you may choose to exile me to France, a hippy commune in the woods, or congratulate me for not being wasteful and for taking good care of myself. I on average, wash my hair only every other day - and that's even on a good week - if I've been busy, it'll be less. And maybe it doesn't seem like a huge deal, but I work out at least five days a week and I sweat. But - does that leave me a stinky sweaty greasy mess? Not really. (I mean, I think honestly over the years only one or two people have complained and compared to current statistical amount of people in my life -as determined by facebook friends- that is a teeny tiny percentage.) Who knows, maybe it's helpful that I have five people in my work office and we don't ever have to really touch or see people from the outside world unless we want to, but if my sanitation habits were really that bad... I would have hoped someone would have told me face to face by now.

See, the thing is that apparently Americans love their shampoo. In fact, the average American washes their hair about 4.59 times a week (twice as much as Italians and Spaniards). And, according to some fresh and clean smelling Georgetown college students interviewed by NPR last March.. to not shower everyday is "completely heinous.... and after a workout, it's disgusting not to wash your hair." On the contrast though, washing your hair that frequently, says hair stylists and dermatologists... is waaaaay too often. In fact, when you shampoo as frequently as four and a half times a week - you actually strip your hair of beneficial oil and in the long run, cause more damage to your hair than help.

So, not only am I looking out for my hair's well being, but I've learned over the years that the way we Americans view proper hygiene is directly related to the advertisements that have been shoved down our throats since the wee 1900's. Some of these early advertisements used sex to sell their products and over time, it became an accepted fact that to wash often was clean, and clean is sexy. Not that dirty is sexy really... but what happened was a market was created where prior there was none. Back then, it was the norm to wash your hair once a month but over time ads convinced people it was proper to do it more and really, much like lemmings jumping off a cliff, the trend just escalated throughout the last century. In the 60's and 70's, more ads featuring people like Farrah Fawcett in a Faberge ad, Cybil Shepherd in a Clariol ad, Christie Brinkley for Prell or the pretty Breck girls sold the idea that that they could shampoo their way to beauty by washing their hair every day. It's a win win for the hair care companies; the more we wash our hair, the quicker we go through it, the more we go back to the store and buy more, and the more money ends up in the pockets of the company owners. Welcome to consumerism and instant cash flow!

I want her hair AND her bike

Overtime though, just convincing people to use the product more often is not enough. I come from Cincinnati, land of hygiene friendly Proctor and Gamble and by growing up there I became highly aware of the products they sold. In fact, one of my favorite games - that I still play today- is what I call the Supermarket Challenge. Basically, you challenge yourself to take a trip down the beauty aisle or the soap/cleaning aisle of a grocery store and try to not find at least two products with the P&G logo on the back. I was always amazed at how many competing products P&G made that all line the store shelves and all essentially do the same thing. The only real difference is they are just packaged differently or come in different colors or smells. Once I notice this, I take a step back and look at all the packaging it takes to hold all those products. All the boxes for the tubes of toothpaste and all the plastic bottles. Then to think about all the card boxes boxes they came in for shipping, and how far they came from, how much gas was used, where they were made and how many different chemicals are in each one just so that we, as Americans.... can have a choice when we go to the store about whether we want a shampoo that conditions and shines, or one that calms down fly-aways, or one that builds body and adds texture, or one that smooths but adds natural curl and really, it's quite overwhelming. Why do you think we need plow over farms to make way for more parking lots and more massive Super Wal-Marts in America? So we can have more choice when it comes to our shampoo and health and beauty needs of course. Really folks?

In a similar note: I laugh and am disgusted when I see Nair ads aimed for pre-teens. I'm sorry, but 10-14 year old girls do not need to be worried about hair growth on their legs.

Some people in some very eco-conscious circles of society have even gone as far as to give up shampoo completely. Blogger Jeanne Haegele, who writes a great blog called Lifelessplastic, went three months without using shampoo. Instead she washed her hair with baking soda twice a week and conditioned it with a vinegar rinse. She stopped the experiment after a bad case of dandruff, but now washes with a shampoo bar (much like the great ones LUSH sells) a few times a week and even used baking soda for deodorant. Personally, I'm quite the fan of Dr. Bronners All-in-One soaps which pretty much can take care of all your cleaning needs with just one product. Not only are they certified under the USDA National Organic Program, but there are also certified Fair Trade. Better yet, at some grocery stores here in Portland they sell the soap in bulk meaning you can just bring your own reusable bottles or jars with you to collect your cleaning needs. Their line of soaps and products have increased over the years, but their liquid soaps are still my go-to for when I'm out camping or hiking and only want to bring one soap with me. As well, their ingredients are all things I can pronounce and don't mind washing my hair or doing my dishes with - I don't know how I feel about washing my hair with Dawn, regardless if it gets grease out of my way.

Basically, before you go to rinse repeat, and rinse and repeat again... just think a little more about why you are doing it and if it needs to be done so frequently. I'm not saying we need to be crunchy not shaving, soaping, showering citizens... but our beauty and hygiene regimes do create more waste than actually necessary. I mean, the more dirt you have on your body the better your natural insulation will be and the less you'll have to spend on heating this winter - right? So, next time you see me with a sheen or glow emitting from my head that you think is just grease - rest assured that I probably just came from the gym. It's not grease, but healthy good old american sweat. The kind you can be proud of.


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