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Decoding the 'No-Poos' Shampoo Movement

By Guan Tan

Handmade Heroes/ Felicia YapHandmade Heroes' all-natural powder dry shampoo.

Hair care, surprisingly, dominates our conversations in Singapore. Here, people have a bad hair day, perhaps at least once a week. Over dinners and drinks sessions, males wax on about hypersensitive shampoo and pomade brands whilst brandishing their expert hair styling techniques – the product 'must not touch the scalp' is a common one. 

Which also means that shampooing is almost mandatory. And most Singaporeans shampoo twice a day. Yet, Google says that lesser shampoos possibly do your scalp greater good than frequent washing. 

I asked the founder of local beauty brand Handmade Heroes, Lynsey Lim, to set this straight for once. Amused, she replies, "While the idea of shampooing your hair less is still quite unheard of in Singapore, there are a small and growing number of people who are turning away from conventional shampoos."

Lim dubs this the 'No-Poos' movement, where consumers reduce their dependency on "conventional and commercial shampoos and opt for gentler methods of hair washing." At the end of the day, the point of this movement is to bring "better scalp health" into focus, instead of merely cleaning strands of hair. 

A big part of this trend is the toxicity exposure lurking in commercial shampoos. "People are becoming more conscious of what goes onto their skin and ultimately, what their bodies absorb." Another arm of the No-Poo movement focuses on recalibrating the scalp's oil-producing facilities. We have come to associate lather and bubbles "with the act of shampooing". Yet, it may be the root of all your dandruff and oily scalp struggles. 

The commercial shampoos are often ladened with "harsh detergents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)." These two chemicals create the luxurious, creamy lather in shampoos. Yet, they strip all dirt and natural oils from your scalp, leaving "the scalp dry and flakey". So you find your hair greasy and you shampoo it more frequently. The increased dryness prompts your scalp to produce even more oil. And you find yourself encircling in a vicious cycle.

The idea behind No-Poos is to break out of the shampoo cycle by decreasing the number of shampoos. "By reducing the frequency of hair washes, this allows the scalp to rebalance the sebum and sebum production," Lim explains simply. "We have noticed a majority of our customers are most comfortable with going three to five days in between hair washes." When the hair gets oily, Lim recommends using an all-natural powder dry shampoo. "Dry shampoo absorbs the excess oils in the hair," but does not strip off all necessary oils present. 

Lim warns against conventional aerosol dry shampoos. They typically contain denatured alcohol, which "can be extremely drying for the hair, causing brittleness and [damages]."

But powder dry shampoos look downright baffling. According to our beauty editor, brush it into your hair with your fingers. Later, brush the powder out to avoid them settling on the surface of your scalp. This way, you won't clog your follicles and your hair will be fresh and fluffy. 

I'm still in the midst of trying No-Poos out. It's been two weeks since I've started on alternate-day shampooing. Yet, the biggest challenge of this is, perhaps, not messing up the dressing table with Jackson-Pollocks of dry shampoo.