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Apologies for the confusing question; I did not know how to better ask it.

I was doing a search on wikipedia when I found this statement.

Wikipedia's entry on hair states;

"The hair that is visible is the hair shaft, which exhibits no biochemical activity and is considered "dead"."

With that being said, why does one use shampoo? Is it because of the scalp that requires nourishment and cleaning because skin is not of a "dead" nature? Or is it to maintain the silkiness and smoothness of hair? Because it seems really redundant to take care of and maintain something which is already "dead".

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  • $\begingroup$ both..Depending on the shampoo components, it can help nourish and clean the scalp as well as maintain hair texture. It would be redundant to take care of your hair if it wasn't a part of personal cleanliness and grooming. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ @thelastword so it's safe to say when one takes care of his/her hair; it's only for personal grooming and does not bring about any health benefit? $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ gair, maybe so because I can't find any positives of specifically cleaning your hair and not your scalp. But the scalp has to be clean to prevent or delay the onset of scalp acne, scalp bleeding and dandruff. You wouldn't be cleaning your scalp alone without your hair though. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 6:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'm skeptical of any claim that shampoo "nourishes" your scalp… $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 6:19
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    $\begingroup$ I think maybe we have different definitions of nourishment. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 6:37

2 Answers 2

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We shampoo our hair because of sebum. In humans, sebaceous glands are most numerous on the face and scalp, with (on the scalp at least) several glands plus a hair follicle making up a pilosebaceous unit.

Each gland secretes sebum, initially a colorless and odorless fatty substance (plus dead cells) that spreads from the scalp outward over the hair, but that breaks down by bacteria producing strong odors.

Look at a person who has not washed their hair in a week and it will be easy to understand why we wash the "dead" stuff on our heads. It looks oily and it eventually smells bad as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ So with this being said, the reason for shampooing is for the benefit of the scalp? Since the sebum control is essential to prevent hair that smells bad- $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ It's for your benefit. The scalp will be still alive and well, although with a socially unacceptable smell. $\endgroup$
    – nvja
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ @NickSandor ohh I see- thank you for clearing it up $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 7:03
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Poorly kept hair directly contribute poor scalp hygiene and may result in health conditions, like Polish plait.

Of course grooming plays an important role as well, and perhaps even dominant role in modern western culture. We can see it, for example, by the variation in frequency of washing hair - if in US it is customary to wash hair every day, in Europe it is considered that using shampoo once in three-four days is quite enough. Note that, if washed regularly at the same interval, the hair does not appear dirty, as it gets oily more slowly than if washed every day.

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