Student, who hasn’t used shampoo for almost two years, claims her hair is healthier and thicker than ever.

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A student who hasn’t used a shampoo or conditioner for almost two years insists that trench care products have healed her itchy scalp and claimed that her locks look healthier than ever.

Iiris Heikkinen, 24, from Inari, Finland, is a proponent of the “no poo method” – a movement popular with wellness bloggers where followers see the trench shampoo and conditioner because they believe that hair can be cleaned with natural oils.

After suffering from an itchy scalp, Iiris experimented with apple vinegar or baking powder to absorb the dirt and fat from her wavy, naturally blonde hair.

But now Iiris uses nothing but water – and a dash of coconut oil once every few months – and said she never looked back.

She explained: “I used to wash my hair every few days and I found it almost too clean. My scalp was really dry and itchy.

But after only a few weeks of the No-Poo method, the itching stopped. At first there was a point where my hair looked greasy, but I pushed it through and it soon returned to normal.

Now, when people meet me, they have no idea that I don’t use shampoo. When I tell them, they are always surprised and say how healthy and clean my hair looks.

The environmentally conscious Iiris, who is doing a master’s degree in primary school, explained that she would wash her hair every few days with organic shampoo and conditioner.

She said, “I’ve always been environmentally conscious, so I started using organic cosmetics when I came to university because there was more choice because I lived in a big city at the time.

I think it’s much better to use organic products. It’s better for the environment, it’s friendlier because there’s no animal testing, and it also feels healthier to know you’re using only natural ingredients and not applying harsh chemicals to your skin or hair.

But Iiris still found that her scalp would itch terribly, and she believed it was caused by shampoo that freed her from her natural oils.

So in the fall of 2017, she started looking for alternatives.

She continued, “I googled things like, “How to wash your hair without shampoo,” and finally came across some Facebook groups that don’t use a faecal method.

They all exchanged tips and advice, so I read about all their experiences. Many people recommended trying apple cider vinegar or baking powder instead.

In September 2017, Iiris threw the shampoo and conditioner away forever and became a full-fledged no-poo practitioner.

The thought behind the movement is that the excessive use of chemicals – some of which can be harmful, according to the non-profit environmental working group that has set up a database where users can check the ingredients of their cosmetics – does not enable hair to clean itself naturally.

First, Iiris followed in the footsteps of many faecal followers, using baking soda to absorb fat and apple cider vinegar as natural care products.

But she still found that her scalp would itch, so she soon scrapped products altogether.

There were a few weeks when it looked greasy,” she admitted. But at about the same time I was in hospital and had surgery for some persistent health problems, so I really didn’t think about my hair.

I was never able to wash it. I don’t know exactly how long it took for the greasy phase to be over, but when I recovered from the surgery and went out again in January, my hair looked normal.

Now Iiris simply washes her hair with water when she takes a shower, and very rarely uses a swab of coconut oil or neem leaf powder – a kind of herb used in ancient Indian medicine – to give her extra conditioning when she has dandruff flaking, or talcum powder to style her curls by adding extra texture.

Although her curls were in pretty good condition anyway, because she rarely used hair dryers or straightening irons, she has found that they appear thicker and wavier since she threw away the shampoo.

Interestingly, the hair colour has also changed slightly and looks more like a natural blonde.

Since many of her friends are equally environmentally friendly, she is not much criticized for her decision to avoid hair products – but she remembers an opportunity when a friend asked her if her hair smelled.

This seems to be a big misunderstanding,” she said. Of course, it’s quite hard to smell my own scalp, but for me it smells completely neutral and I certainly had never made a comment on it before.

If you got to know me, you wouldn’t know that I don’t use shampoo.

She added, “When people find out, they’re really surprised, so they should show that it’s easy to be hygienic anyway. It is often said that my hair looks better than if I had used shampoo.

Iiris’ hair only needs to be washed a little more thoroughly than usual when she has used a sauna – a big part of Finnish culture.

She continued: “We live in Finland and have many saunas, so you obviously sweat. If I was in one, I will still only use water, but sometimes I find it.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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