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Shampoo is a Lie (for me... and maybe for you too??) (Johnny Harris)
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Is it really necessary the use of shampoo or is it yet another artificial need created for comsumption?

Johnny Harris is a filmmaker and journalist. He currently is based in Washington, DC, reporting on interesting trends and stories domestically and around the globe. Johnny's visual style blends motion graphics with cinematic videography to create content that explains complex issues in relatable ways. He holds a BA in international relations from Brigham Young University and an MA in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.

Okay okay okay. This is going to piss some people off. Some of you are going to turn your backs on me forever, sorry to see you go. I have to tell you this reality.

I have not shampooed my hair for five years. And yet those five years have been some of the best five years of my hair's life. No more itching, no more oily hair, no more dandruff flakes, just normal hair that does weird stuff sometimes, but is generally happy. Let me explain.

Go ahead, take a good look, I know everyone's already doing it anyway, look at my hair. I've never felt so conscious about my hair because I'm talking about it.

Okay, so five years ago I realized that I was in a cycle. The cycle looked like this:

My head, which produces natural protective oils would be washed with shampoo. Shampoo is just a chemical that attaches to these oils on your scalp, and then when you wash that shampoo out the oils are attached to them and they leave, ridding your head of oils. The shampoo also cleans off any pollen or dust that's caught in your hair. So my hair was now clean, very clean.

Oh yeah and this guy isn't me, this is just a stock footage representation of me five years ago.

Anyway, then goes in the conditioner, which coats your hair with silicone material that makes it shine, and restores all of that shine that was lost from stripping away all of those oils. Man, I haven't used conditioner in a very long time but I do remember that it makes your hair feel like silky butter. Silky butter, is that even a thing?

Okay, so you strip away the oils, you coat it with this shiny silky conditioner, and then my hair would end up just being sort of like a fluff ball. In order to style it I would put in some product, like some fancy pomade I bought at some fancy barber in Chicago. This pomade is made of, wait for it, oil. It is an oil based product. So I'm putting oil back in my hair after I just stripped it all out.

Meanwhile, my scalp is like whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, dude you just stripped away all this protective oil that we make to protect your scalp, wtf. And so it fires up it's natural oil making machine to produce more oil for your hair.

So now you have double oil, you've got the pomade and the natural oils. So now by the end of the day you start you feel like your hair is super oily and greasy and you have all these messages about dirty hair being greasy and oily.

- You have got greasy hair though bro.
- Aw come on man.
So what's the cure for this oily greasy hair?
Shampoo. A deep cleansing shampoo.
It helps take away the excess dirt and oils that can be inside your hear. Right, I reckon we should give it a go and get you washed up.
- Let's do it.
And the whole cycle starts over again.

In my mid-20s I also started to realize that my scalp was starting to become like itchy and flaky which is so embarrassing, so uncomfortable, and yet luckily out there in the world there is a cure for this.

- [Narrator] The problem of flaking dandruff can be solved with just regular use of Proctor & Gamble's new wonder shampoo, head and shoulders.

Okay, listen, just a quick moment to make it clear that this cycle
is my hair experience. Which is based on not only my physiology and genetics, but also on my standards and relationship to society
and what society tells me to do with my hair.

So just to get this out of the way, I'm not here to preach what's right for your scalp, I'm simply telling you what's right for my scalp. In fact there's this whole movement, sort of a political movement around shampoo and not shampooing, it's called "no poo" which is a very unfortunate name for this movement. I'm not a part of that movement, I'm not pushing that. This isn't political for me, I just want to tell you a story about the journey of my hair using a little bit of history and data and research, and again most importantly, my own experience of five years of not shampooing my hair.

Okay, so let's dive in. Let's get some context here.

Human beings used to not wash their hair very much at all. It was only by the 1970s when ads targeted mainly towards white women would come out saying you need to wash your hair every single day, and that the dirt in your hair was weighing it down.
- That attract dirt and weigh hair down like this.
And that in order to prevent this weighing down and to get body,
you would have to use this product.

This also started a whole new set of messaging around greasy hair, dirty hair, which even saying it is like repulsive. So demonizing the idea of greasy hair and pushing this daily shampoo regiment was seen as the only way to fight back against this greasy hair epidemic.

Today, Americans wash their hair around five of the seven days of the week. By the way that's about double how much they was their hair on average in Spain and Italy. And it's way more than the once a month
Americans used to wash their hair in the '30s.

So let me tell you the story of how this all went down, because I didn't grow up as a non-shampooer. Five years ago I had bought this really expensive fancy tea tree oil based dandruff shampoo, because I had so much itchiness and flakiness everywhere.

I was so tired of that, and I was so embarrassed by it. So I was diligent. I would wash my hair with this tea tree oil shampoo every day. The marketing on this told me that I shouldn't use any other shampoos, that all the other shampoos were the devil, and that this was the only thing I could use to treat my dandruff.

I ran out of this shampoo while we were on like a trip, so I couldn't order it. And I was just like okay when I get back I'll order the shampoo and I'll get back onto it. And it took a while, we were on some long trip, I get back, I forget to order the shampoo, I was getting worried about this.

But soon, after like three weeks of this sort of fear of using other shampoos I noticed that the itching started going away. and that the greasy hair feel started to actually level out. It was actually okay, and I was secretly like oh I'm probably, I probably just got used to it or something. But the key moment happened when I went in to get a haircut having not washed my hair with shampoo for like a month.

I was actually really nervous and conscious of what the barber was gonna say to me, and he didn't say anything.  So I asked him, I was like hey how does my hair and scalp look to you? And he was like looks good, it's a little dry, but overall pretty healthy, and that was the moment for me.

I was like wait what? This guy who sees like dozens of scalps every day, dozens of scalps, that's actually really gross, like dozens of scalps, I'm just never gonna say that again. This guy sees a lot of scalps every day and he blessed my unshampooed scalp, and was like you're actually okay.

Now let me just remind you that I've told some of my close friends this story before and they have tried it and it hasn't worked for them.

I'm not saying that this exact thing is going to work for you. The reason I am making this video is because I want us to have reasons to be skeptical of all the messages that we get fed around this topic.
- [Narrator] Nourishing damaged hair back to healthy life.
- Regular washing is the only way
that you can get rid of that excess oils.
- I feel no grease.
A few years ago I read this kind of obnoxious business book that said that the best way to market a product is to create a psychological trigger that makes people need your product.

The example used in the book was this toothpaste in like the '50s or '60s where the ad for this toothpaste called attention to this quote dangerous coating that robs the teeth of their whiteness. Like this film coating that's on your teeth every time you eat, and it's like dangerous and bad and socially unacceptable.

Turns out that this dangerous film on your teeth is a harmless residue from food consumption, and toothpaste doesn't remove it any better than eating an apple. So yes you should totally brush your teeth, but not because there's this dangerous residue, and now I can't unfeel it.

The psychological trigger is just baked in, I can't not feel it and I feel judged because I maybe have this dangerous coating. This same dynamic happens today with the 100 billion dollar hair care industry. They push all sorts of scary ideas about dirty things lurking in your hair that only their product can fix. And they get very rich because of it.

Telling you that you have grease in your hair makes you feel dirty psychologically. And what it does is it turns these naturally occurring lipids, or fats in your hair which are totally protective and naturally occurring into this gross feeling dangerous thing.

And more and more these commercials have these like fancy 3-D diagrams
to make it feel totally legit and medical. There are medical things here like dandruff is a real skin disorder, that's something that has real symptoms and should be treated in a real medical way by a professional. Not by a commercial with a fake doctor showing you 3-D diagrams to sell a product. And no, this lady is not a legit doctor, she's an actor. While we're on the point of dandruff and itchy scalps, let it be known that dry scalp, which is not a skin disorder, literally means that you don't have enough hydration in your scalp, is not dandruff.

- But he's scratching his head, could be dandruff.
And yet they share effectively the same symptoms, itchy, flaky, but dry scalp, unlike dandruff, is caused in part by, wait for it, shampooing too much.

Drying out your scalp by stripping it of its natural hydrating oils.
This was my problem in my 20s. I didn't have dandruff, I thought I had dandruff because I was shampooing my hair too much and it was drying out my scalp and making it dry and flaky.

All of this gets conflated when corporations present their advertisements as legit science that's meant to help you feel better. But let's just quickly say it like it is, the only thing they're doing is trying to sell you a product to make sure that you feel like you need it as much as possible.

Where this becomes totally below the belt in my view is when these commercials tell the story of how you will be socially ostracized if you don't use their product.

- [Narrator] Use Head and Shoulders every day.

And this gets to the last point I wanna make here, and potentially the biggest reason why I made this video. I don't care about you shampooing your hair, you probably should, you need to determine that on your own, but let us just recognize that we are social animals.

We live and die by what others think of us. We strive to be accepted by the group at any cost. And my big fear here is that we have given the power of what we need to do to be accepted to these big corporations, these giant machines who use this psychological dynamic
to sell us more of their stuff.

They have successfully turned hair into a discussion of hygiene and cleanliness, and now we talk about this almost as a form of epidemiology.

Cleanliness and hygiene turns into an issue of health and safety, which let's be honest, brushing your teeth, or washing your hands,
that stuff is there to stop us from spreading diseases.

I haven't washed my hair in five years and there's not some virus that's gonna pop off my head and go infect my family. Oh that's a very strange image, head virus.

There are real skin disorders having to do with the scalp, those should be treated seriously. But my sense is that we've conflated that. We're not talking about health and disease prevention a lot of the time. We're talking about beauty and self-perception.

That's not epidemiology, that's personal psychology, personal self-esteem, and societal standards. That feeling of being dirty or greasy, who determined that feeling? Who set the parameters for that feeling?
It's not nature, it's not epidemiology.

If you had been born 50 years ago, you wouldn't have that same feeling of being greasy. It's not natural. And even in 2021, if you were born in Spain, you would less likely have that feeling of just being dirty that drives you to consume more and more of these products. Which helps you build the nearly 100 billion dollar hair care industry, a huge portion of which is owned by just three companies:
L'Oreal, Proctor and Gamble, and Unilever
which find a million ways to feel like you are dirty, you are undesirable, and if you don't use their product, you will be ostracized from society.

Just look at these commercials. These companies have cracked the code on what drives us, and it's fear and a desire to be accepted.

And this isn't just with hair, this is with a million of these products that tell us that we're inferior. And if I'm saying this as a man in this society, it is a thousand times worse for women.

So am I here telling you not to shampoo your hair? No, do whatever you want. You have a totally different hair experience than I do. I'm sure stopping cold turkey like I did probably isn't the right choice for you, all I'm asking you is to scrutinize your standards, and who is in control of the narrative of what clean even means?

Okay, that's that.

Speaking of the psychology of self-esteem in the 21st century, I wanna tell you about the sponsor of today's video which is Better Help. It's an online tool that allows you to connect with a professional trained counselor so that you can have therapy, but do it remotely. I've been in therapy for the past year and a half, and for the majority of that it's been remote, I haven't been sitting in the therapist's office. And I can't stress enough how important it has been for me, my understanding of myself, and my well-being as a person, and as a husband, and as a father, and as a brother, and as all the roles that I play in my life, therapy has been amazing. Better Help is not a crisis line, it is not a self-help scheme, it is a platform for finding a counselor and starting therapy so that you can start to make strides in your mental health. My favorite part about Better Help is that it makes it free and easy to change your counselors. It often takes a while to find the right therapist for your life. With Better Help you have a ton of options, as well as the ability to, if you don't find a good fit, at first or second or third you can keep trying until you find the right counselor for you. Better Help is more affordable than traditional counseling, which can be fairly expensive, and there is financial aid available. Better Help wants you to start living a happier life today, and I am a major component of therapy as an ongoing practice, I wish it was more accessible, Better Help is making it so. So go to BetterHelp.com/JohnnyHarris, that's BetterHELP.com/JohnnyHarris and join the over one million people who are taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. Clicking that link helps support this  channel, but it also gives you 10% off your first month of therapy. Thank you Better Help for sponsoring this video, thank you all for watching, thank you patrons for your ongoing support, hope some of you stick around even though I don't wash my hair all the time.

Okay, see ya.

Okay okay okay. This is going to piss some people off. Some of you are going to turn your backs on me forever, sorry to see you go.

I have to tell you this reality. I have not shampooed my hair for five years. And yet those five years have been some of the best five years of my hair's life. No more itching, no more oily hair, no more dandruff flakes, just normal hair that does weird stuff sometimes, but is generally happy. Let me explain.

Go ahead, take a good look, I know everyone's already doing it anyway, look at my hair.
I've never felt so conscious about my hair
because I'm talking about it.

Okay, so five years ago I realized that I was in a cycle. The cycle looked like this:

My head, which produces natural protective oils would be washed with shampoo. Shampoo is just a chemical that attaches to these oils on your scalp, and then when you wash that shampoo out the oils are attached to them and they leave, ridding your head of oils. The shampoo also cleans off any pollen or dust that's caught in your hair.
So my hair was now clean, very clean.

Oh yeah and this guy isn't me, this is just a stock footage representation of me five years ago.

Anyway, then goes in the conditioner, which coats your hair with silicone material that makes it shine, and restores all of that shine that was lost from stripping away all of those oils.

Man, I haven't used conditioner in a very long time but I do remember that it makes your hair feel like silky butter.
Silky butter, is that even a thing?
Okay, so you strip away the oils, you coat it with this shiny silky conditioner, and then my hair would end up just being sort of like a fluff ball.

In order to style it I would put in some product, like some fancy pomade I bought at some fancy barber in Chicago. This pomade is made of, wait for it, oil. It is an oil based product.

So I'm putting oil back in my hair after I just stripped it all out.
Meanwhile, my scalp is like whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, dude you just stripped away all this protective oil that we make to protect your scalp, wtf.
And so it fires up it's natural oil making machine to produce more oil for your hair. So now you have double oil, you've got the pomade and the natural oils. So now by the end of the day you start you feel like your hair is super oily and greasy and you have all these messages
about dirty hair being greasy and oily.

- You have got greasy hair though bro.
- Aw come on man.
- So what's the cure for this oily greasy hair?
Shampoo.
- A deep cleansing shampoo. It helps take away the excess dirt and oils that can be inside your hear.
Right, I reckon we should give it a go and get you washed up.
- Let's do it.

And the whole cycle starts over again.

In my mid-20s I also started to realize that my scalp was starting to become like itchy and flaky which is so embarrassing, so uncomfortable, and yet luckily out there in the world there is a cure for this.

- [Narrator] The problem of flaking dandruff can be solved with just regular use of Proctor & Gamble's new wonder shampoo, head and shoulders.

Okay, listen, just a quick moment to make it clear that this cycle
is my hair experience. Which is based on not only my physiology and genetics, but also on my standards and relationship to society and what society tells me to do with my hair.

So just to get this out of the way, I'm not here to preach what's right for your scalp, I'm simply telling you what's right for my scalp.

In fact there's this whole movement, sort of a political movement around shampoo and not shampooing, it's called "no poo" which is a very unfortunate name for this movement. I'm not a part of that movement, I'm not pushing that. This isn't political for me, I just want to tell you a story about the journey of my hair using a little bit of history and data and research, and again most importantly, my own experience of five years of not shampooing my hair.

Okay, so let's dive in. Let's get some context here.

Human beings used to not wash their hair very much at all. It was only by the 1970s when ads targeted mainly towards white women would come out saying you need to wash your hair every single day, and that the dirt in your hair was weighing it down.

That attract dirt and weigh hair down like this.
And that in order to prevent this weighing down and to get body, you would have to use this product.

This also started a whole new set of messaging around greasy hair, dirty hair, which even saying it is like repulsive.

So demonizing the idea of greasy hair and pushing this daily shampoo regiment was seen as the only way to fight back against this greasy hair epidemic.

Today, Americans wash their hair around five of the seven days of the week. By the way, that's about double how much they was their hair on average in Spain and Italy. And it's way more than the once a month
Americans used to wash their hair in the '30s.

So let me tell you the story of how this all went down, because I didn't grow up as a non-shampooer.

Five years ago I had bought this really expensive fancy tea tree oil based dandruff shampoo, because I had so much itchiness and flakiness everywhere. I was so tired of that, and I was so embarrassed by it. So I was diligent. I would wash my hair with this tea tree oil shampoo every day. The marketing on this told me that I shouldn't use any other shampoos, that all the other shampoos were the devil, and that this was the only thing I could use to treat my dandruff.

I ran out of this shampoo while we were on like a trip, so I couldn't order it. And I was just like okay when I get back I'll order the shampoo and I'll get back onto it. And it took a while, we were on some long trip, I get back, I forget to order the shampoo, I was getting worried about this. But soon, after like three weeks of this sort of fear of using other shampoos I noticed that the itching started going away. and that the greasy hair feel started to actually level out. It was actually okay, and I was secretly like oh I'm probably, I probably just got used to it or something.

But the key moment happened when I went in to get a haircut having not washed my hair with shampoo for like a month. I was actually really nervous and conscious of what the barber was gonna say to me, and he didn't say anything. So I asked him, I was like hey how does my hair and scalp look to you? And he was like looks good, it's a little dry,
but overall pretty healthy, and that was the moment for me. I was like wait what? This guy who sees like dozens of scalps every day, dozens of scalps, that's actually really gross, like dozens of scalps,
I'm just never gonna say that again. This guy sees a lot of scalps every day and he blessed my unshampooed scalp, and was like you're actually okay.

Now let me just remind you that I've told some of my close friends this story before and they have tried it and it hasn't worked for them. I'm not saying that this exact thing is going to work for you.
The reason I am making this video is because I want us to have reasons to be skeptical of all the messages that we get fed around this topic.

- [Narrator] Nourishing damaged hair back to healthy life.
Regular washing is the only way that you can get rid of that excess oils.
I feel no grease.

A few years ago I read this kind of obnoxious business book that said that the best way to market a product is to create a psychological trigger that makes people need your product.

The example used in the book was this toothpaste in like the '50s or '60s where the ad for this toothpaste called attention to this quote dangerous coating that robs the teeth of their whiteness. Like this film coating that's on your teeth every time you eat, and it's like dangerous and bad and socially unacceptable.

Turns out that this dangerous film on your teeth is a harmless residue from food consumption, and toothpaste doesn't remove it any better than eating an apple. So yes you should totally brush your teeth, but not because there's this dangerous residue, and now I can't unfeel it. The psychological trigger is just baked in, I can't not feel it and I feel judged because I maybe have this dangerous coating.

This same dynamic happens today with the 100 billion dollar hair care industry. They push all sorts of scary ideas about dirty things lurking in your hair that only their product can fix. And they get very rich because of it.

Telling you that you have grease in your hair makes you feel dirty psychologically. And what it does is it turns these naturally occurring lipids, or fats in your hair which are totally protective and naturally occurring into this gross feeling dangerous thing.

And more and more these commercials have these like fancy 3-D diagrams
to make it feel totally legit and medical. There are medical things here like dandruff is a real skin disorder, that's something that has real symptoms and should be treated in a real medical way by a professional. Not by a commercial with a fake doctor showing you 3-D diagrams to sell a product. And no, this lady is not a legit doctor, she's an actor.

While we're on the point of dandruff and itchy scalps, let it be known that dry scalp, which is not a skin disorder, literally means that you don't have enough hydration in your scalp, is not dandruff.

- But he's scratching his head, could be dandruff.
And yet they share effectively the same symptoms, itchy, flaky, but dry scalp, unlike dandruff, is caused in part by, wait for it, shampooing too much. Drying out your scalp by stripping it of its natural hydrating oils. This was my problem in my 20s.

I didn't have dandruff, I thought I had dandruff because I was shampooing my hair too much and it was drying out my scalp and making it dry and flaky. All of this gets conflated when corporations present their advertisements as legit science that's meant to help you feel better.

But let's just quickly say it like it is, the only thing they're doing
is trying to sell you a product to make sure that you feel like you need it as much as possible.

Where this becomes totally below the belt in my view is when these commercials tell the story of how you will be socially ostracized if you don't use their product.

- [Narrator] Use Head and Shoulders every day.

And this gets to the last point I wanna make here, and potentially the biggest reason why I made this video. I don't are about you shampooing your hair, you probably should, you need to determine that on your own, but let us just recognize that we are social animals.

We live and die by what others think of us. We strive to be accepted by the group at any cost. And my big fear here is that we have given the power of what we need to do to be accepted to these big corporations, these giant machines who use this psychological dynamic to sell us more of their stuff.

They have successfully turned hair into a discussion of hygiene and cleanliness, and now we talk about this almost as a form of epidemiology. Cleanliness and hygiene turns into an issue of health and safety, which let's be honest, brushing your teeth, or washing your hands, that stuff is there to stop us from spreading diseases.
I haven't washed my hair in five years and there's not some virus that's gonna pop off my head and go infect my family.

Oh that's a very strange image, head virus. There are real skin disorders having to do with the scalp, those should be treated seriously.

But my sense is that we've conflated that. We're not talking about health and disease prevention a lot of the time. We're talking about beauty and self-perception. That's not epidemiology, that's personal psychology, personal self-esteem, and societal standards.

That feeling of being dirty or greasy, who determined that feeling? Who set the parameters for that feeling? It's not nature, it's not epidemiology.

If you had been born 50 years ago, you wouldn't have that same feeling of being greasy. It's not natural. And even in 2021, if you were born in Spain, you would less likely have that feeling of just being dirty that drives you to consume more and more of these products. Which helps you build the nearly 100 billion dollar hair care industry, a huge portion of which is owned by just three companies:
L'Oreal, Proctor and Gamble, and Unilever
which find a million ways to feel like you are dirty, you are undesirable, and if you don't use their product, you will be ostracized from society.

Just look at these commercials. These companies have cracked the code on what drives us, and it's fear and a desire to be accepted.

And this isn't just with hair, this is with a million of these products that tell us that we're inferior. And if I'm saying this as a man in this society, it is a thousand times worse for women.

So am I here telling you not to shampoo your hair? No, do whatever you want. You have a totally different hair experience than I do. I'm sure stopping cold turkey like I did probably isn't the right choice for you, all I'm asking you is to scrutinize your standards, and who is in control of the narrative of what clean even means?

Okay, that's that.

Speaking of the psychology of self-esteem in the 21st century, I wanna tell you about the sponsor of today's video which is Better Help. It's an online tool that allows you to connect with a professional trained counselor so that you can have therapy, but do it remotely. I've been in therapy for the past year and a half, and for the majority of that it's been remote, I haven't been sitting in the therapist's office. And I can't stress enough how important it has been for me, my understanding of myself, and my well-being as a person, and as a husband, and as a father, and as a brother, and as all the roles that I play in my life, therapy has been amazing. Better Help is not a crisis line, it is not a self-help scheme, it is a platform for finding a counselor and starting therapy so that you can start to make strides in your mental health. My favorite part about Better Help is that it makes it free and easy to change your counselors. It often takes a while to find the right therapist for your life. With Better Help you have a ton of options, as well as the ability to, if you don't find a good fit, at first or second or third you can keep trying until you find the right counselor for you. Better Help is more affordable than traditional counseling, which can be fairly expensive,
and there is financial aid available. Better Help wants you to start living a happier life today, and I am a major component of therapy as an ongoing practice, I wish it was more accessible, Better Help is aking it so. So go to BetterHelp.com/JohnnyHarris, that's BetterHELP.com/JohnnyHarris and join the over one million people who are taking charge of their mental health with the help of an  experienced professional. Clicking that link helps support this channel, but it also gives you 10% off your first month of therapy.
Thank you Better Help for sponsoring this video, thank you all for watching, thank you patrons for your ongoing support, hope some of you stick around even though I don't wash my hair all the time.

Okay, see ya.

14:38            
 
 

 

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