It’s been almost two months since I’ve washed my hair with actual shampoo. Instead, I’m currently using less harmful alternatives like apple cider vinegar and baking soda to get my hair clean.
As we chase modernity, new consumer products and innovations seamlessly make themselves essential in our day-to-day lives, so much so that we cannot imagine life without them. However, recent trends indicate that certain aspects of society may be double-edged swords. More traditional ways seem to be making a comeback. For example, shampoo has only been around since about 1930, and it wasn’t till the late 1970s and early 1980s that it became a common household product.
A few months ago, I came across an article that introduced me to the no-poo movement. This new trend bases its existence on the fact that traditional shampoo contains harmful chemicals that can strip hair of natural oils, making it dry, brittle and dull. Shampoo coats the hair in a thin layer of silicon that makes it smoother and easier to manage, but at the same time, it dehydrates the real hair beneath it. Using shampoo regularly, as the majority of us do, will put our hair in a vicious cycle, as our scalp will overproduce oils to compensate for the ones stripped by the previous wash and will thus require another wash.
I can’t tell you yet if I fully support the no-poo movement. There is a transition period, where hair gets worse before it gets better, and I’m positive the amount of time I’m spending in chlorinated pool water this summer is not in any way helping this transition go faster. But it’s definitely worth the try, because two months in, my hair does not look significantly different than it did when I was using shampoo.
Innovations that may seem extremely beneficial to society on the surface come with their own set of side effects. On a more serious note than hair care, genetically modified organisms and the use of pesticides to grow crops give the appearance of a gift to society. They allow for produce to be shipped longer distances because they prevent seedless fruits from rotting, and they provide a larger harvest every year. However, GMOs have recently been undergoing severe criticism as many question the safety of such food production.
A few years ago, I found out that apples, among other produce, have a layer of wax that gives them the shiny skin I find so attractive. Wanting to see for myself, and maybe find a way to remove the chemical before eating, I decided I’d test this out. So I took an apple, washed it as well as I could, and boiled it for 10 minutes. I was amazed to find that the heat cooked the wax and made it visible on the apple. There was a white substance that all but covered the natural red color. While people assured me that it’s edible wax, it looked anything but edible.
More and more people, if they can afford it, are shifting gears and opting for the organic foods. People are realizing that not all innovations are always the best. Proponents of organic food strongly believe that naturally grown foods taste better, too.
Old is often gold. Rather than accept all of society’s established ways of life, it is important to question what we’ve been told. For example, when cigarettes were first gaining popularity, everyone smoked, because no one knew exactly how harmful the effects could be. Obviously, not all innovations are secretly harmful. Most do, in fact, contribute to higher qualities of life, and it would be easy to get lost in the past unless we keep up. What I am advocating for is finding the right balance by knowing more of the facts and deciding what is truly the right path. In certain cases, the way humans lived in past might prove to be the best way to live after all.
Anushka Kannan is a rising sophomore in the McDonough School of Business. Preserving the Past appears every other Friday at thehoya.com.