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The Rise of Un-Shampoo

Hair cleanser, not shampoo, gets a new lease of life.

“It’s the first cleanser that won’t f*** up your hair,” says Michael Gordon, the former Bumble and Bumble founder who’s hoping to revolutionise how we wash our hair with his new venture, Purely Perfect. Michael explains that “every shampoo – no matter how gentle – cleans more than it should and makes hair look uncool (frizzy, flyaway, and needing conditioners, masques, and serums). Our hair and scalps have endured being cleaned too harshly and too often. Hair is left depleted, while the scalp works to replenish the natural oils it has been stripped of. It’s a perpetual feast/famine, purge/binge situation.”

Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme, €42

And so we’re seeing the shampoo rulebook being rewritten with trailblazing brands like Shu Uemura, Ojon and Purely Perfect launching cleansing creams and balms, aka the un-shampoo. They don’t clean in the conventional way (with detergents that wipe out everything they encounter); nor do they lather up in the shower, which feels very strange at first. Rather, they gently dissolve impurities with ingredients like aloe vera, essential oils, and even some of the elements used as natural preservatives.

Ojon Moisture-Rich Cleansing Conditioner, €22.50

Once you jump ship and start using regularly, you’ll be amazed at how effective and gentle they are, and you may find you need to wash less often once the scalp isn’t tricked into over-producing oils. Expect to see gradual improvement in your hair within eight weeks or so, and if you have scalp issues, the web is full of converts swearing un-shampoos help these disappear too.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo, €29

And if you’re not sold on the healthier hair and scalp benefits alone, they’re also formulated to leave larger colour molecules behind, where they belong (even reds – the most prone to fading). The proof is in the rinse – water runs clear during the first wash after colouring. Happy hair, however, doesn’t come cheap – you won’t find a cleansing balm for less than €20, but we imagine it won’t be long before all the major cosmetic houses follow suit and prices whittle down, now that the shampoo bubble is well and truly bursting.

Liz Dwyer, Beauty Editor

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