Pro: It's better for you.
Shampoo is kind of a lousy racket, when you think about it. No one is born needing detergents, parabens, and phthalates to keep their hair clean. Our scalps have their own little ecosystems of natural oils, fungi, and bacteria. Traditional shampoos strip all of them away and replace them with artificial moisturizers, making us become dependent on the fake stuff over time. Even more concerning is the fact that we absorb plenty of those chemicals through the skin. That's not to say you're going to get sick from your shampoo (after all, we're exposed to toxins all the time in our daily lives), but not all of those ingredients are entirely benign. For instance, some scientists have raised concerns about babies' development being impacted by the amount of phthalates absorbed through shampoo. Yikes.
Con: Not every raw shampoo is better for every scalp.
I decided to transition with Morrocco Method. The brand prides itself on being raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, cruelty-free, wildcrafted, and made in the U.S. It's free of about 11 other things, but I honestly don't even know what they are. The point is, this stuff is NOT FUCKING AROUND. Its Healthy Hair Starter Package includes mini bottles of its full range; the company advises you to try a different one every day. This allowed my scalp to adjust and helped me figure out which ingredients worked for me and which didn't.
Pro: It's better for animals and the environment.
Obviously, fewer chemicals in your hair means fewer chemicals down your drain — and in our environment. Animals don't want the phthalates either! And, you should know that almost all drugstore brands (and many salon brands) test on animals. While a lot of them claim they don't, they're benefitting from a sneaky loophole: Their policies state only that they don't test final products, but they say nothing about ingredients.
Con: It takes patience — both in and out of the shower.
First, raw shampoo doesn't lather and spread as easily as the regular kind. You need to rub it in and let it sit for a few minutes. Second, the transition takes time and persistence. And, I wasn't kidding about the itching. Also, I have oily hair to begin with, so the first few weeks of my experiment involved a fair amount of top knots and ponytails. Your sebaceous glands will panic, your scalp will feel weird, and you may become tempted to reach for your go-to shampoo, but it's crucial to power through. This, too, shall pass.
Pro: Your patience will pay off.
Once you've suffered through the adjustment period, get ready for some shiny, happy hair. Depending on the products I used, I still had both high-volume and super-flat days. But, overall, my hair looked healthy as hell.
Con: Traveling can be tricky.
If you're going on a trip, you need to be prepared. There's no popping out to the drugstore: There aren't (yet) a ton of retailers that carry these products, so if you get stuck somewhere without, you're better off not washing your hair than going back to traditional shampoo. Your scalp won't be back to square one if you fall out of your raw routine, but it will slow down the transition. And, if you have transitioned, you could wind up with an icky, uncomfortable scalp. Do yourself a favor and double-check your packing list.
Pro: It's super cheap (if you're creative).
While some raw-shampoo advocates create cleansers with African Black Soap or raw shea butter, many people swear by the ACV-baking-soda combo — and it couldn't be more cost-effective. (Plus, most places carry those.) Cleanse with 50% baking soda and 50% water, and then rinse with 50/50 ACV and water. Make sure to use both to keep the pH balanced.
Con: It's not-so-cheap if you're not.
I dropped $70 on the Morrocco Method starter kit. Yes, it lasted months, but it's still a lot more than I'm used to paying for hair-care. The full-sized bottles run for $29 a pop. There are also Raw Hair Organics ($21 a bottle) and SheaMoisture ($10, and the only one you'll find at the drugstore).