Lovely TheAnswerIsWithinYou asks:

Have you ever been in the bathroom and needing to pass the time, picked up a nearby bottle and read the ingredients? I've done this for years and have come to realize that I hardly recognize a thing going into my products...

These are products chemicals that we are using to clean our hands. These products chemicals go into our scalp! Do YOU know what is going into your scalp? I don't and that worries worries me even more to think of all the babies being washed with these products chemicals when their mothers probably can't even pronounce half of the ingredients.

I am not okay with this. I have heard of people who stopped washing their hair and it's healthier than ever. People converting to "dry washing." I don't consider myself a health nut but I am not okay with what is going into my body. Do any of you use any "all-natural" shampoo products or face cleansers? I would love to get your feedback on this.

I'll be totally honest, we have a couple of readers who know a LOT more about this than do I, but I do have some clients who are water-only to differing degrees, and I'll lay those out and then open it up to the commenters. They will have things to say that are probably going to be very helpful to you. I can just tell you what those nasty chemicals actually are and what different people's solutions to it are.

1. Water-only. I have a client with tons of hair who uses this method, and she reports that her hair really has to be "washed" on a specific schedule to keep her hair in a good balance. By washed, she means scrubbed or massaged vigorously under warm water, and rinsed. Later or even the next day she would use a 100 percent boar-bristle brush to evenly distribute the oil that naturally occurs at her scalp all through her hair to maintain moisture. It makes sense (though I've never tried it on my ultra-fine hair), but her one tip was that if her hair didn't get the procedure on exactly the right day when it needed it, her scalp would be very imbalanced and her hair hard to manage. To me this doesn't sound like a necessarily easier process, but it is probably healthier.

2. Vinegar and castile soap. This is what a handful of men I have as clients use to clean their hair. Usually it's the castile soap first, you know the stuff, Dr. Bronner's Magical soap (I think it's drying and leaves a weird film on my skin), and then vinegar to get a clean rinse. He comes in smelling like vinegar, which is surprisingly not unpleasant, and his hair is sort of thin and fine. It seems to work for him but longer haired ladies might not find this method to be very nourishing.

3. Shampoos that claim not to have bad stuff in them. They range from organic shampoos on the shelves of the health food store to professional products claiming to be vegan and sulfate-free. Sulfates are the surfactants used in dish soaps like Dawn, used to suds up and make oil water-soluble. But we don't want all our oils to be water soluble. Oils are really good for our hair, just in moderation. The organic shampoos sometimes result in very built-up cuticle layers of the hair so that the hair seems to stick together unpleasantly. This could be the result of not using a boar bristle brush, or just the wrong shampoo. Sulfate-free shampoos use oils and such to clean the hair as well as less harsh surfactants, but you'll still see some words you can't pronounce on the labels. I've always loved Pureology shampoos, but they probably have some preservatives and less desirable things in them, too. All I can say for sure is that "organic shampoos" are definitely not all created equal.

4. Conditioner only. Curly girls can't just comb their hair all the time. Curls don't like that. A really nourishing conditioner that breaks down oils with oil is usually a great remedy to the dryness and also a great way to cut out some of those unwanted chemicals.

I will agree with you, too, that the products on the shelves at most stores are overwhelmingly detrimental to the health of your hair. Pantene, SunSilk, Dove to name a few, all have super scary conditioners (containing non-water-soluble emollients like silicone) that'll build up on your hair, sometimes irreparably. Commenters might have something to say about that, but it's a fact. Those over-the-counter shampoos, conditioners and home hair colors (and those little conditioners they give you in the box) are NOT equal to a) buying something better or b) finding a way to get around using it.

Now I'll open it up to our Lovelies. What are your tips for keeping those nasty chemicals far, far away?

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