27 October 2016Last updated

Beauty | Grooming

Dare you detox your locks?

Forget juice plans, starvation diets and herbal supplements this January – and instead, turn your attention to your hair. Louise Emma Clarke finds out how you can beat the build-up and get rewarded with softer, shinier, bouncier hair…

Louise Emma Clarke
22 Jan 2016 | 12:00 am
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  • If you are brave enough to give no-(sham)poo a shot and can get past the first few weeks of disgust, your hair could look its ultimate best.

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  • L’Occitane Aromachologie Revitalizing Fresh Shampoo, Dh99,

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  • Miriam Quevedo Exfoliating Scrub Scalp Mask, Dh215,

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  • Phytoneutre Shampoo, Dh65,

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  • Revivogen Pro Scalp Therapy (2 x 60ml), Dh233,

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  • Sachajuan Hair Repair, Dh140,

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  • Balanced Guru scalp detox, Dh100,

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  • Kérastase Specifique Bain Clarifiant Shampoo, Dh310, Pastels Salons (

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If you are a wash-your-hair-every-day kind of girl, you’ll probably be shocked to hear that Audrey Hepburn only shampooed her locks once a week, Jessica Simpson only a few times a month, and Robert Pattinson rarely bothers at all. And while this may conjure up gross visions of limp, greasy, smelly hair, the opposite is usually true – after an adjustment period where the scalp oil regulates, hair is not only softer, thicker and shinier, but is unbelievably voluminous too.

If you’re still not convinced and think there’s no substance to the research, let us introduce the no-poo movement (standing for ‘no shampoo’, thankfully); a method that beauty aficionados and environmentalists across the globe are embracing in their droves.

So why bother banishing shampoo from our routine? The theory is that shampoo strips the hair of its natural oils, which prompts the scalp to generate more oils to replace them. This results in greasy hair, which we then attempt to fix with more shampoo. It’s a vicious circle and works excellently for the shampoo industry, because the more shampoo you use, the more frequently you need to use it.

The theory is that if you stop shampooing your hair (or wash it with natural alternatives), the scalp restores its own balance and will produce just enough oil to keep hair soft and smooth without becoming greasy. These natural oils also 
ensure hair is clean and protected, performing the role of shampoo and conditioner far more effectively than the manufactured alternatives.
So what should we use on our hair instead of shampoo? Lucy Aitken Read, author of the book Happy Hair: The Definitive Guide to Giving Up Shampoo, offers some tips. ‘Bicarbonate of soda is a popular choice, because it cleans the scalp without stripping it of natural oils. You could also use apple cider vinegar as an alternative to conditioner, as it works with the bicarbonate to restore the natural pH of the hair.

‘Using a bristle brush will also help to stimulate the scalp and distribute sebum all the way down the hair shaft to keep it clean,’ she says.

Brace yourself for a few difficult weeks after. ‘I’ve heard of it taking up to three months for particularly difficult hair types to adjust,’ Lucy says. ‘Just keep your eye on the prize of healthy, glossy, lustrous hair with zero effort.’

Celebrity hair stylist Michael Dueñas ( is experienced in the wash-free movement – and he agrees the interim period won’t be easy. ‘For the first few weeks, your hair’s going to feel extra greasy or oily and your scalp will be itchy, but don’t let that deter you,’ he says. ‘When you shampoo more often, your scalp gets used to having the natural sebum cleaned off. You therefore produce more oils to keep your scalp normalised. So for a few weeks after, your scalp will produce the same amount of oils it was while you were shampooing. But soon you’ll see a world of difference!’ 
The science behind going no-poo is certainly convincing – but getting through those first few months would be quite another thing. We envy your willpower, Robert Pattinson, but aren’t there easier ways to breathe new life into our hair?

Shampoo fans can cling on to their bottles for dear life, as thankfully the answer is yes – and it’s about committing to a detox that mercifully doesn’t involve dropping a couple of dress sizes this January.

This detox is all about our hair – and it can be done by various methods, from shampoos that strip away the build-up, to treatment masques, scalp scrubs, and even professional salon treatments that promise quick and effective results.

Why bother? Top UK stylist Stephanie Stevenson ( explains. ‘Detoxing our hair is about removing the chemicals, not the dirt. That glossy finish we get when using styling products is due to synthetic materials that cling to the hair shaft.

‘Dimethicone is the most commonly used chemical, found in 90 per cent of hair products. Check the back of your bottles and there it is! That magic name that gives us our shine,’ Stephanie says. Dimethicone coats hair, conditioning and providing great shine. However, because it’s so water insoluble, the chemical is difficult to remove. The heavy coating is also more likely to attract dirt and pollutants from the air, making the hair feel weighed down and greasy.

It’s not the only chemical that builds up in hair over time. Conditioning ingredients, such as Quaternium and Polyquaternium (known as the Quats), specifically target areas of damaged hair. Found in just about every conditioning product on the market, they use compounds that are positively charged and are therefore attracted to the negative charge of these damaged spots. They are designed to seek out these spots and stay behind, even after rinsing. So while the result when you start using these products might be impressive, they build up over time, which weighs hair down and makes it dull and heavy. 
And a salon in Dubai has launched a solution for all this build-up, in the form of The Hacial. ‘The treatment detoxifies, purifies and cleanses the scalp and hair fibre, and makes it ready to receive any treatment,’ explains Ruksher Malik, co-founder of Pastels Salon ( ‘The process regenerates the hair, provides protection, and removes product build-up. It also calms and appeases scalp irritations and boosts the efficacy of the key ingredients of any treatment you choose to have after it.’

So has the Dh50 treatment been popular since its launch last month? ‘It’s been a big hit,’ says Ruksher. ‘Clients can either add the treatment on to services at the salon or try the at-home version. After the treatment, we’re seeing some impressive results, with the texture of hair dramatically improved and much shinier.’

At home, shampoo can also be effective when we want to detox. Look for the words ‘clarifying’ or ‘revitalising’ on the packaging.

‘Product build-up is a factor in not-quite-perfect hair, and can be dealt with the occasional use of a clarifying shampoo,’ explains New York-based colourist Kimberley Pierce ( ‘These are also great if you need more volume for a specific look, but be careful as clarifying shampoos are notoriously drying and shouldn’t be used more than once a week.’
Our scalps need some TLC too. Piling product after product on to this delicate area of skin is likely to eventually cause problems, whether that’s flaky skin, dandruff, sensitivity, itchiness or irritation – after all, the scalp is living and breathing. ‘A clean scalp is key for hair health and growth,’ says Juan Carlos Maciques, a hairstylist in New York City.

‘Just like the pores on your face, hair follicles on your scalp can become clogged with dirt, oil, and product build-up. Scalp treatments and scrubs can help to remove the build-up, bringing health back to your scalp and restoring your hair’s gloss and shine.’

We have to be honest; trying a new treatment or giving our scalp a detox seems a lot easier than living with unwashed hair for months on end – but if you’re braver than us, the results do seem to speak for themselves.

Either way, it’s the perfect time to banish the build-up and enjoy lighter, brighter hair in 2016 – and we’re relieved there isn’t a juice diet in sight.

Louise Emma Clarke

Louise Emma Clarke