One of my biggest passions in life is convincing people to wash their hair less.
I’m not kidding. I can really get on a soap box about it and luckily this blog is my unresisting platform. Muwhaha! If you are tired of washing your hair every day and the time it takes to style it, or the resulting frustration when you don’t have time to style it, this post is for YOU.
How I Stopped Washing My Hair So Much
I have finely textured, straight hair. However, I have a A LOT of it. It also grows super fast. I have measured it a couple of times and it grows just under an inch per month–which I attribute to good nutrition and lack of styling damage and breakage from over-washing and handling. I’m only telling you all of this so you know what I’m working with…
I used to wash my hair every other day in high school when it was a coarser, wavier texture. I should mention that I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina–known for it’s humid, hot climate. Even with the unhelpful weather, my scalp just didn’t need daily washing. Fast forward to my early 20s when I’m living in Utah–known for it’s dry climate–and my hair’s texture has changed to straight and fine. With this new texture, I noticed that my hair was getting oily quicker than it previously had. I was shocked that in a drier climate my hair would require more washing. Around this same time, I also began struggling with fairly bad acne and something my dermatologist said at that time made total sense.
“The more you dry your skin out with traditional anti-acne products and wash it over and over, the more your skin will over-produce oil. Completely stripping the oils means you’re signaling to the skin that it needs more moisture. The more you strip, the more oil your skin will produce.” –My dermatologist in 2006.
My skin soon began responding to the practice of less washing with soap (the dermatologist had actually suggested washing with a low-foaming beauty bar) and more moisture in general through topical application and internal consumption. Soon, the idea also began to make sense to me in regards to my hair. With its new fine texture sitting so close to my scalp, it was natural that the hair would become greasier sooner than when I had wavy hair that tended to not lie flat against my head, but could I also train it to need to be washed less? Could I train it to produce less oil?
My Steps to Hair that Produces Less Oil
- I used a high quality salon shampoo recommended by a very trusted stylist. So many of the cheaper drug store shampoos are just not able to give you the same deep clean without stripping away all of the good oils from your scalp–which will cause over-production. Some of you will say you cannot afford something from a salon, but I promise you it lasts so much longer, because of the concentrated ingredients. If you need further convincing: remember that if you spend $4.50/month for a cheap quality shampoo * 12 months, you’re spending $54/year on your shampoo. If you spend $36/once for a year on a big bottle of high quality shampoo, you’ve actually saved yourself money. I understand the initial pain of buying the more expensive shampoo, but I also value the $18 savings…and the better hair! Also, make sure to check places like TJ Maxx for discounted salon shampoos. You can find some killer deals!
- I added ONE extra day in between washes until I noticed a difference in oil production. It took anywhere from 1-4 weeks for my scalp to adjust in oil production for each additional day I added between shampoos. This means it looks somewhere around a year for my scalp to adjust to being washed once every 5-7 days.
- I discovered dry shampoo. Here is a great link with GIF’s on how to properly apply the dry shampoo from a can. If you use it wrong, it won’t do what it’s supposed to do.
- I made my own dry shampoo! Here’s my old video for application how-to. Recipe:
1 part unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1 part cornstarch
2-5 drops of lemon essential oil
Mix ingredients by shaking in a sealable container. Adjust Cocoa to Cornstarch ratio based on the color of your hair. Apply to roots using a makeup powder brush. I actually think my DIY dry shampoo works better, because it has less “other” ingredients in there to propel it out of the can. Less ingredients=better for you, the environment, and it’s less to weigh down your hair.
- I continued to have sweaty workouts. After a regular workout, I would use a cool blow dryer followed by an application of the dry shampoo and it worked miracles for me. I also timed my heaviest workouts for the day before or of washing days.
- I had a plan for my hair on all days. If you wake up without a plan on Day 3, guaranteed you’re going to spaz out upon seeing your less than freshly washed locks doing, well, whatever it is they’re going to do. Try to plan a look for each day based on how you think your hair will be. Example of a plan: Day 1 hair – wear it down while it’s super fresh. Day 2 – tease and wear the sides back to prevent the oils from getting all over your roots. Day 3 – apply dry shampoo and use curling iron to wear hair down with waves. Day 4 – use texture from waves and dry shampoo to do a casual up-do of some kind. Day 5 – cute pony tail, braid or sides up again. Day 6 – Hat day. Next Day – Wash!
My entire transition to washing every 5-7 days probably took the better part of a year, but it wasn’t like every day was a greasy, tortuous mess! I took it a few weeks at a time for each extra day between washings and LOVED all of the time saved from having to wash, condition and dry my long, full mane of hair. I also loved having some hair with texture back in my life! If I washed my hair every day, I would never be able to get away with any sort of an up-do, braid or other cute hairstyle, because I simply wouldn’t have the texture for it. Which would mean boring, straight (eventually fried looking, due to daily styling) hair every single day. No fun in my book.
My Hair This Week
I diligently took photos of my hair for 6 days. I did this so you could see one can look decent without washing her hair for (almost) an entire week. Images will load larger if you click on them. I hope this loads properly on a phone!
Your Hair Transition
I’ve written about what worked for me, but what will work for you is an entirely different matter. Perhaps your goal is to transition from daily washing to alternating days to wash or perhaps it’s to get to Day 14 hair. Merrick of Merrick’s Art has frequently mentioned that she can get this far and I’m just in awe of her. In AWE! She also has some great style ideas for what to do with your “dirty” mane here. If you need further hair ideas for anything beyond Day 1, check out Abby at Twist Me Pretty. Whatever your goals are, please know that it is possible to wash your hair less and still look great!
**Update** What I Do with My Hair in the Shower and the Pool.
Someone asked me about what I do with my hair when there’s the potential for it getting wet. Here is my response.
Showering: I don’t get my hair wet each time I shower (I do shower more than once a week, BTW!), so I pile it in a high top knot to keep it from getting wet. I have tried wetting it and not washing it, but it doesn’t seem to do much good for my hair. I’ve heard those with curly or dry hair benefit from getting it wet with each shower, but for mine, it just seems to move the grease around. I also don’t love having to re-blowdry and style my hair after each shower, as part of the point of washing my hair less is to keep it healthy and save time when I get ready.
Swimming: For swimming laps, I’ll wear a swim cap. It’s not perfect, but it helps a lot. I’ll follow with dry shampoo. For full immersion (FUN!) swimming or diving off the diving board, I must wash my hair after the pool. Chlorine isn’t just drying on the hair, it also leaves a residue that weighs it all down. For the most part swimming for me means I’m just hanging out in the pool with my kids, so I’ll pile it in a topknot on top of my head, or I’ll wear a hat over pinned up braids to prevent it from getting soaked.
Thanks for reading!