I have long been telling my clients that they should cut down on shampooing. I wash my hair once a week, and I think twice, maybe three times is the most anybody should be doing it. And I'm not the only one. Two news articles were emailed to me on the same day last week - one concerning a well-established industry professional, the other a beauty blogger, both of whom advocate not only cutting down on shampoo, but stopping use altogether.

Why is this happening? Well, let me start with my own reasoning. One of the biggest complaints I get as a professional is scalp issues - either flaky or greasy. One thing that is guaranteed to make these worse, or even cause them, is over-shampooing or using a shampoo that's too aggressive. The natural oil produced in the skin - sebum - is designed to lubricate/condition the hair and to keep the scalp from drying. When you strip your scalp bare of this sebum, your body reacts in one of two ways - either it can't keep up with you, resulting in dry, flaky skin; or the sebaceous glands work twice as hard to replace the sebum you've removed. The latter causes you to wash more often, perhaps every day, resulting in a cycle that you can't break. Over-shampooing stresses the ends of your hair, too, drying it out and contributing to split ends and a dull, straggly appearance.

It all sounds like a bit of a predicament, doesn't it? So, I hear you ask; what are the solutions?

When I cut down my shampooing routine to once a week, I invested in a genius product by Bumble & bumble:

Sunday shampoo is designed for once-a-week use. Now, I might contradict myself slightly here, but this is a deep-cleansing shampoo that uses strong detergents. It's the kind of thing that, if you used every day, would definitely result in the problems I listed above. But, once per week, it just removes excess products, sebum and pollutants that have built up in the good number of days since you last washed. Additionally, because your scalp is being cleansed so infrequently, your body gets used to the routine and produces sebum at a slower rate. So you don't need to wash every day.

Here's where the story takes an interesting turn, though. Bumble & bumble was started by Michael Gordon, who has since sold it off to Estée Lauder. Gordon is one of the advocates I mentioned above, who is attempting to put a stop to shampoo altogether. His new product, Purely Perfect, has been described as an 'anti-shampoo' that also makes conditioner 'obsolete'. I first heard about it in an article in the June issue of Vogue, which introduced Gordon's product and stacked it up against a wave of others (below) that are really kick-starting a huge trend in haircare.

(l-r) Kérastase Chroma Sensitive Cleansing Balm, Wen Cucumber Aloe Cleansing Conditioner,
Tibolli Bubble-Free Shampoo

The trick to products like this is that they contain very little or no foaming surfactants at all. Ingredients you see on nearly every shampoo are things like Sodium Laureth (or Lauryl) Sulfate, or the lesser-used Ammonium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate. The Kérastase product says it has less than a quarter concentration of this and the other claim none at all. Instead, they use a good mixture of natural ingredients and Aloe Leaf Extract is used in almost all of them.

Buzzwords like 'sulfate-free' and 'paraben-free' have been seen as hair product benefits for a while now, and natural and organic haircare is certainly on the rise. But what happens if, say, you ditch hair products altogether?

That's right - no styling products, no shampoo, and not even this new wave of detergent-less cleansers.

That's what beauty blogger Lucy AitkenRead did for two years. She completely gave up hair products, including shampoo. Now, whilst most of you are probably cringing at the thought of going that long without washing your hair, Lucy is so committed to the cause that she wrote a book about it:

Happy Hair: The Definitive Guide to Giving Up Shampoo takes the reader through Lucy's decision to take up the 'no poo' method and guides you through the process to having - ultimately - healthier, happier and more natural hair. She admits it hasn't been easy, telling the Telegraph, "Once we were painting my house and I got paint in my hair and told my husband I was going upstairs to use his shampoo. He talked me down, because he knew I’d be disappointed afterwards if I did it".

Of course, going completely cold-turkey is going to have it's downfalls, and Lucy admits that you must go through a terribly greasy, even smelly stage before your hair starts to clean itself. And that's true of cleansers, too. Tony Kelley at hairstory.com says that even though most people notice great results from Purely Perfect instantly, some people can take a couple of weeks to get used to it. And I too have told people that, when they break down their washing routine, they will have to fight the urge to wash that second or third day when they feel a bit gross and dirty.

Despite that, this trend is certainly on the rise, and with so much money being invested into products that prevent you from washing so often, it could well be that Michael Gordon is right when he says:

"I honestly think in five years people are going to go, ‘Oh God, remember when we used to wash our hair with shampoo?’"

Find out more about the products listed in this article:

Purely Perfect: 
Bumble & bumble: 
Wen (at Sephora US): 
Tibolli: http://www.tibolli.com/product/c13-bubble-free-shampoo

Lucy AitkenRead's blog, Lulastic