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Why do we need haircuts?

Recently I looked at "naturalising" my hair by washing it in water only, to retain the oils. I then wondered why we had to cut our hair and shave, no other animals do.

Date:   5/11/2009 8:37:29 AM   ( 14 y ) ... viewed 5924 times

Lately I have been experimenting with less / minimal usage of petrochemical products such as shampoo and soaps. It started not from any cosmetic reason, but I noticed that humans tend to be short of Omega 3 oils and vitamin B12. I thought, how come? I noticed that Omega 3 oils were essential for good hair, as (I think) it is present in our natural hair oil. What do we do with our hair oil? Wash it off every day!!

Similar with Vitamin B12. This is actually bacteria on plants, but of course these days we wash our veg to get the pesticide off.

The same story goes for Vitamin D, we get that from sunlight, but now we build walls and roofs around ourselves to keep out the sunlight and wear clothes when we go out in it. It's not acceptable to walk down the street without a shirt on, let alone naked. We seem to have become far from the people who we once were, and our health is being affected.

Anyway I have had some success with the reduced petrochemical experiment. My hair was horrible for a couple of weeks bit now is getting less greasy. I wash it now and then with bicarbonate of soda, and use cider vinegar as conditioner. I went away last weekend with friends, no one noticed.

Same for skin, I just use water.

My skin feels slightly oily, but I detect no bad smells of perspiration. Nor to others it seems. After 5 weeks my hair is better but still not perfect. I'll keep the experiment going for a while. I won't post any links unless people ask for them, but Google "no poo" or "no soap".

So I thought of other differences between humans and animals. Apart from washing and showering and wearing clothes, we need haircuts don't we? Or do we?

So I Googled "why do humans need haircuts?" and came up with some interesting stuff.

it states:
"Didn't you ever listen to the title song from Hair ("Don't never have to cut it 'cuz it stops by itself")? Each scalp and beard hair grows two to six years before stopping, attaining a typical maximum length of two to three feet. Then it becomes dormant for about three months, whereupon a new hair starts growing and pushes the old one out of the follicle from behind. That's why even someone who's not balding loses 70 to 100 head hairs a day. By comparison, the growth cycle for other body hair is only a few weeks."

Elswehere at
there is a question:
"Q: Why don't apes need haircuts?
I had a haircut today. If I'd left it, it would have grown longer. Sitting there, it occurred to me that chimps, gorillas, etc. don't have haircuts, but why? Does their hair moult (and why doesn't mine then?) Do the long hairs get groomed out by other apes? What happens to apes living alone then?"

And I found some interesting answers:
"The real question, I think, isn't why apes don't need haircuts but why humans do. We appear to be unique in the animal kingdom in that we have all this stuff growing out the top of our heads.
It's been a while, but I seem to recall that Desmond Morris suggested that a mane of hair gives a savannah ape, standing on two legs, a unique profile that can be recognised from a distance.
posted by Leon at 8:28 AM on June 2, 2007

There was an interesting discussion of this topic on a recent episode of Fresh Air. The conclusion was that we don't really know -- that head hair is pretty unique, but often grooming is an important social function, so it may have had to do with that.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:47 AM on June 2, 2007

I guess I need to get round to reading Desmond Morris' book "The Naked Ape" sometime. That will probably be a good starting point.

Sometimes I think there is so much artificial stuff around us and we are so preconditioned by parents, upbringing, school, TV and so on that we have no idea who we really are. We think the answer to life's problems is to ship bottled water over from Fiji by air so we can collect it from the supermarket in our SUVs. After all, it said it was good on the TV.

Equally walking down the high street naked with a beard and a 2 foot mane of hair won't help much either, unless you desperately need accommodation and don't mind putting up with the indignity and discomfort of a prison cell.

Perhaps what's needed is a group of people who are prepared to break away from all this artificialness and rediscover what we are all about. Either that or we just carry on as we are, and let nature impose it's will on us when the petrochemicals run out.

It's puzzling sometimes to try and imagine what life would be really like if we were in harmony with nature.

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