Forbes: Bumble & Bumble's Founder Wants You To Never Use Shampoo Again

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When Michael Gordon, a New York City transplant and dedicated yogi founded Bumble & Bumble in 1977, little did he know he had launched a hair empire that would spawn an array of hair products, a haircutting school, and endless fashion designer collaborations. His Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray inspired a legion of imitators.

Gordon, sold the company to Estée Lauder in 2000. He then took some time to think, do lots of yoga, make a film about Vidal Sassoon. It all led to an epiphany: everything he had created at Bumble & Bumble was to counteract the damage caused by the detergents in shampoo. The co-washing trend—basically using only conditioner to (try to) clean your hair—was evidence that people were catching on and wanted an alternative.

And this was the start of Gordon’s second empire, the cornerstone of which is New Wash (originally launched in 2013 as Purely Perfect; rebranded, reformulated and re-released in 2015). It contains no sodium lauryl sulfate, a sudsing detergent used by nearly every company on earth that makes cleansers, including Method and the The Honest Company. But many people find it irritating, and Gordon says it’s terrible for your hair, drying it out and perpetuating the need for endless hair products.

Because New Wash is so gentle and packs in so many good-for-hair ingredients, it’s the only product you’ll need—no conditioner, no masks. Skeptical? So was I. I have very long, thick, highlighted and colored hair, and it’s historically impossible to comb through without conditioner. But when I met Gordon at a panel discussion at StyleSeat’s headquarters in San Francisco, he promised I would not need conditioner.

He was right. I’ve gone from using shampoo and gobs of conditioner, plus a styling balm, plus a mask at least once a week, to using only New Wash. I comb it through in the shower and the comb glides effortlessly through. My scalp feels tingly and clean, and my hair looks and feels shiny, soft and healthier than ever. When I noticed my free sample was nearly gone, I re-upped with the $90 Fan Club subscription (paid for out-of-pocket), which includes a refillable stainless-steel bottle.

Gordon has also created Hairstory, an online media outlet and physical space in New York City where independent hairstylists in can learn Hairstory methods and even cash in on sales of the brand’s four products, which also include an air-drying balm, a blow-dry cream, and a texturizing spray. Read on to learn more in my interview with Gordon.

What makes New Wash different from shampoo or conditioner? Did you work with scientists on the formulation? Can you talk a bit about how you chose the ingredients? Are the ingredients all non toxic?

“To put it really simply, the magic here is not what’s in New Wash, but what isn’t in it. What people don’t realize is that what’s in shampoo, no matter the price, is essentially water and some version of sodium lauryl sulfate or a derivative of that. Surfactants that are used, whether they are sulfate free or not, if they foam, they will dry your hair out.

New Wash is a combination of aloe vera and essential oils and doesn’t have detergent, doesn’t foam, doesn’t strip hair but effectively cleans hair and scalp. It’s not a co-wash, it cleans hair thoroughly, simply, but leaves hair feeling much better than before without the use of conditioner. When you touch your hair after using New Wash you can immediately feel a difference. The other amazing part is that it works equally well on any hair type: very fine, color treated, naturally thick, curly, African American hair, Latina hair. We’ve never found a hair type that it doesn’t work on. 

Think about that in comparison to the endless new shampoos that companies are constantly releasing. There are so many that you lose count, all of them claiming to address a certain type of ‘problem’ with your hair that doesn’t exist. The problem here is basically caused by detergent. Detergent is very bad for hair and scalp, it encourages the scalp to get oilier quicker which means that you’ll have to wash your hair more often. With New Wash you’ll find that you need to wash it less frequently and that your hair will have a lot more bounce and life to it.”

How does it work? My hair is damaged from lightening it… how does the product counteract that?

“If you think about it, coloring your hair is an aggressive process, even more so if it’s bleached or highlighted, so putting detergent on your hair is going to aggravate it even further. Since New Wash does not contain detergent of any kind it doesn’t contain the agitators which strip the hair in the first place, and as a result, New Wash actually helps to preserve your color longer. New Wash is particularly effective on color treated hair, in fact, you’ll notice that it immediately improves the quality of your hair. For those people who do color, we also often recommend using a bit of our Hair Balm after you wash. It is a moisturizing and conditioning creme which is fantastic for air drying.”

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Byrdie: We Found the Secret to Ashley Olson's and Sienna Miller's Effortless Hair

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Who: Wes Sharpton, lead hairstylist at Hairstory Studio

His Advice: "The key to really effortless hair really comes down to having good products, but the trick is that it shouldn't look like there's product in it. It's not crunchy '80s gel or super-hard hair spray. I think every girl I know wants that 'lucky girl' hair—the hair that looks like you just rolled out of bed with it. Effortless hair, to me, is not super styled, overly coiffed, or epically blown out," Sharpton says.

"For shorter hair (which I describe as anything above the shoulder), I recommend using a little bit of Hairstory's Hair Balm ($36) on damp hair, working it through with your fingers, and letting it air dry. The trick to this is not to touch it while it dries. This product is great because it dries soft, not crunchy like a gel would be, but because it has a good amount of hold, it will retain a sense of separation—the key to making it look effortless and not forced."

He continues, "For those with naturally smooth, long hair, of any texture—from curly to straight, to wavy—I suggest going for a look that's a little more French and lived in, a bit Virgin Suicides. For this, I recommend taking your hair, wet or dry, and spraying in a little of Hairstory's Undressed ($38). This will add a bit more lived-in texture which could be considered a little bit beachy, or sexy, but the reason I love Undressed is because it actually creates hair that's soft and touchable. Often when I've used salt or texturizing sprays in the past, the hair would look great, but feel crunchy and full of product."

"Then there are those who've always been blow-dry girls. They're complete pros at giving themselves an epic and perfect style in 15 minutes but are trying to get away from it. These are the women who have a system down that works for them or are just a little too scared to venture out and try something that might come across as messy. I call this group the 'weekenders' because they're the ones who might experiment with their hair over the weekend when the risk is lower.

"For this group, I recommend doing your usual blow-dry, but afterward, try spraying just a little Undressed on from a distance, which will enhance a lot of those nice little messy details that create a more lived-in texture. It’s a great way to get an effortless look without feeling like you may ruin something that you're already comfortable with. The trick to remember: The farther away you hold the product, the more distribution you'll get, and the finer the mist will be. This is important because holding it farther from your head will create less reversion (the tendency that your hair has to revert when dampened). I suggest misting over the outside layer of your hair or spritzing a few sections in front for a more interesting detail around your face.

"Whenever you venture into something new, ask yourself, what is my hair like? If your hair is naturally more frizzy and a little crazy, you probably need to smooth it out a bit more to find balance, so Hair Balm is great. If your hair is really smooth, you probably need to rough it up and add a little texture to it, Undressed is helpful for this. It's really about understanding what you're working with, and finding a balance with your natural texture."

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Refinery29: Everything You Need to Know About Air Drying Your Hair

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Can I get an amen for air-drying? For those of us who lack the time, energy, or desire to repeatedly shoot a concentrated stream of scorching hot air on our delicate strands, going heat-free is both liberating and practical. Not to mention all the money you save on heat-protecting sprays.

No shade to the blowout fans — massive kudos to you for your dedication and brush-and-blow mastery — but it seems more and more of us are embracing a tool-less lifestyle. As Hairstory founder Michael Gordon puts it, "A woman looks fabulously glamorous without looking like she did too much." 

Now, as we much we adore the low-touch hair routine, there is one undeniable truth: If you don't know what you're doing, your hair can look kind of shitty. The let-it-be coif sounds good in theory, unless your post-shower dry leaves you with limp-noodle strands, fluffed-out coils, or a weird clump of hair sticking straight out. As Gordon notes, not every hair pattern is the same, meaning no two people's hair dries the same way. Factors like if your hair is color-treated, how it's been cut, its texture, and the products you use all have a big impact on how your hair looks when it dries.

But just because you're going au naturel doesn't mean you're just supposed to throw your hands up and deal with whatever manifests on your head. All it takes to get the air-dry of your dreams is a little product know-how and some secret tips from a stylist who abides by the heat-free ethos.

Which is why we tapped Gordon and Hairstory stylist Remy Moore to teach you six different ways to create a baller style for your hair type. From glamour curls to a pixie with just the right amount of quirk, these techniques will help you nail the IDGAF look — without having to spend two hours blasting your head with a dryer.

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