Natural hair is green

That picture over there? Definitely not natural.

Going natural with your hair is the green choice, for your own health and that of the planet.

As an added bonus, you won’t look like that family.

Thinking about the amount of work and hairspray required to create this image, I walked through our two bathrooms and counted our hair products. The result:


Our products include shampoos and conditioners, detangling spray, gels, creams, waxes, mousse and hair spray.

Surely these things aren’t necessary. We aren’t exactly a gang of fashionistas and metrosexuals.

On the other hand, my hair tends to get limp; my husband’s, fuzzy; and my daughter’s, a mass of tangles without superhuman assistance. So we have different products for different people. I have the styling products, but I also have the less fussy shampoo routine.

To green your hair routine and mine, here are some suggestions:

  • Toss what you don’t use. Do a cabinet inventory and throw out old products. It doesn’t matter if your stylist persuaded you to buy a $32 tube of gel two years ago and you can’t bear to “waste” it. If you aren’t using it, toss it. Cosmetics expire, too. And if you don’t have it staring you in the face, you might realize you don’t need it and save money and resources by not using it again.
  • Consider less plastic. I’ve switched to a shampoo bar. Not only does the packaging contain no plastic (paper wrapper), the ingredients are all natural, and it’s lasted for a long time so far. It’s eliminated the itchy scalp I was getting from regular shampoo.  My only caveat: Once I forgot to rinse it immediately, and it started to harden up a bit in my hair, so rinse quickly with this one (no forgetting while you shave your legs).
  • Consider “no poo” – going without shampoo. I guess my ego is too fragile to switch all the way to this method. Maybe on a vacation sometime? But if you are interested, Crunchy Chicken is right there with you — read her comments for an overview of opinions about whether it works.  And Melinda at One Green Generation posted detailed instructions and a picture of her beautiful shampoo-free locks.
  • Research ingredients before you buy. A great place to do this is on the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database. Gird your loins first — you might be shocked. Or you might be pleasantly surprised (my mascara, for instance, is OK).
  • Consider alternatives. Fake Plastic Fish has blogged about this natural hair conditioning product (called The Name Is Product). Check the ingredients list before you buy any product.
  • Go short or long. There’s a reason hippies had long hair, which is that long hair can be low maintenance. If it doesn’t get all greasy and require twice-daily washing, and if it really looks nice brushed out or tied up, long hair can be gorgeous and green. (My inner style critic would mention here that past a certain age, most people don’t look the greatest with long hair, however, partly due to textural changes as hair goes gray.) Short hair, on the other hand, can be green too: It takes less water and shampoo to wash, requires less conditioning, and doesn’t necessarily require as much styling as other lengths.
  • Minimize electrics. Of course, any length of hair is greenest if you can let it air dry. When I got my hair cut short a year or so ago, not only did I get lots of compliments, I discovered that it looks OK when it air dries. It looks *better* if I blow dry it, but I’ve gained the option of partly blow-drying it and partly letting it dry — meaning I use the blow-dryer for just a couple of minutes. No flat irons, curling irons or hot rollers need be applied.

I truly believe this is a “different strokes for different folks” issue, and I don’t think we have to sacrifice personal appearance — but do think about what changes you can make or have made to be kinder to your bod and your surroundings, too. You might even save a few bucks in the process.


6 thoughts on “Natural hair is green

  1. Verda Vivo says:

    I use the “no poo” method of cleaning my hair most of the time. Since I play tennis, I rinse my hair almost daily. I use shampoo once every couple of weeks when my scalp feels like it needs it. My hair is long so I always use conditioner so it remains tangle free. I keep trying green products but haven’t found a conditioner I love yet. Now that I live in a dry climate, I let it air dry. As a result I don’t have to have it cut so often because my hair is less damaged. Love the pic, by the way! ~ Daryl

  2. Patricia says:

    This sounds great, I will definately try it. I began graying at 17 and I only colored my hair for one short 6 month period years ago, before deciding it required too much maintenance. Now my hair is mostly white in front with salt and pepper in back, and short. I always get compliments on it. I have never used conditioner, and I don’t currently use electrical equipment. It’s great to get out of the shower, run my fingers through my hair and be done with it. I like being green especially when it’s so easy!

  3. erin says:

    All I can say is I fail miserably in this category. I did cut my hair short to save shampoo/water. But I also color my hair (with a dye from the natural food store) and I cannot imagine stopping this…sigh.

  4. aemcdraw says:

    I am so glad you posted this and the helpful links! I am definitely going to try this. I shampoo maybe 2x a week (okay maybe 1x a week now that I don’t have to get gussied up for a job.), and I try to conserve by using less than a quarter each time. Honestly this is all you need if you want to use the commercial shampoos (even watered down when the bottle gets low works). But once my bottle is up, I am going to try the no poo method. Actually, maybe I should start now and save the poo for those really dirty days. Lord knows, as I dig around in my compost pile I’m going to have those dirty days. LOL. My weakness is for the conditioner, I MUST condition my hair as it will dread if I don’t give it that smoothness and weight. However, one link stated that the vinegar was the conditioner? I’m skeptical about this, but hey I’m adventurous and willing to be a guinea pig. Okay I’m looking to save anyway I can so I will let you know how it works out.

  5. robj98168 says:

    I am extremely lucky to be balding. I don’t buy a lot of shampoos or conditioners. I get away with a bottle of Dr. Bronners liquid soap, sometimes 8 in 1 Peppermint hemp oil, sometes Lavendar- anyway a little bit of this soap goes along way- a 16 oz Bottle lasts me for up to 6 months. The bottles are #2 Plastic so are compatible with our city recycling. And I don’t mind buying Dr. Bonners- they are free trade certified, and have a reputation as a very earth friendly company. And I even wash Romeo the wonder dog with it!

  6. cheaplikeme says:

    @anne – Maybe you won’t need as much conditioner if the shampoo doesn’t strip all the natural oils from your hair? Can’t wait to hear the results.

    @rob – we are Dr. Bronner’s fans, too, although I don’t use it on my hair. I use it for washing handspun yarn, and we use it in hand soap dispensers and in the shower … as well as for washing a million things, from our giant jug.

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