Want to jump on board the weekly hair washing train to wash your hair less often… but you don’t know where to start? Read on for answers to your “Dirty Hair and I Don’t Care” FAQ so you can save time, money and energy washing your hair less without sacrificing hygiene. We ought to be presentable in public, after all… right?
A while back, I posted on Instagram a photo of my favorite hair style for day 4 or 5 of my hair care “cycle”. I wash my hair about once a week, even when I exercise, and it’s been a great adjustment to my hair care routine. I still shower, something I sometimes have to clarify when I discuss this with people. Just because I don’t wash my hair doesn’t mean I don’t clean my body… haha.
Within just a few minutes of sharing the post on Instagram, I received a bunch of questions about it, so I thought I’d do a little FAQ to answer some of the questions I received about why and how I wash my hair just once per week.
If you’re brand new to the idea of weekly or infrequent hair washing, I recommend first reading this post on 5 Reasons to Skip Your Next Hair Wash. Then come back here for some follow up details on the ins and outs of how to make fewer hair washes a reality.
Frequently Asked Questions About My Weekly Hair Wash Routine
Doesn’t Your Hair Start to Smell?
Not typically, but once in a while it may start to smell after 4 or 5 days. If that happens, I add some dry shampoo to soak up the oils, and it’s back to normal. The dry shampoo really takes care of any smell (at least for me), so that doesn’t seem to cause issues for me. I wrote a primer for beginners about how to use dry shampoo, so pop on over and check it out if you’re interested.
What Dry Shampoo Do You Use?
I find that the brand I use makes a really big difference. Some brands work well and others are total junk. I use Bed Head by Tigi Rockaholic Dirty Secret and Oh Bee Hive!. I like both of them. Rockaholic is a bit lighter and has a softer smell. Oh Bee Hive! is a bit heavier and has a stronger scent.
Both work great for me so it depends on your preference. You can buy them at Target, on Amazon, and at most major retailers. In my post on Dry Shampoo For Beginners, I discuss over a dozen brands of dry shampoo that I tried and whether or not I liked them.
Does Your Hair Stay Dry While You Shower?
Generally yes. I wear a Shhhower Cap when I shower and am not planning to wash my hair. Sometimes the hairline along my neck gets a little damp, but the rest of my hair stays perfectly dry. I used to wear a towel turban to keep my hair dry in the shower. That works well enough if you don’t have a shower cap and aren’t ready to invest in one.
I found that tying my hair up without a towel left me with damp enough hair that it defeated the purpose of keeping it dry to maintain the styling. The Shhhower Cap, however, is definitely my favorite solution if you’re in the market for something like this (though it’s definitely not cheap).
Do You Wash Your Hair Every Time You Exercise?
No. I don’t have any hard and fast rules about what types of workouts require a hair wash afterwards; it’s more of an art than a science to decide if I need to wash. Even after a particularly sweaty workout, I might skip a hair wash (though still shower) and go one or two more days if I recently washed my hair and don’t have any reason to “look nice” in the next day or two. If I’m only running to the grocery store and hanging out at home for the weekend, then having slightly dirty hair doesn’t really matter.
Dry shampoo can work wonders on “sort of sweaty” hair once the sweat dries. Just remember that dry shampoo is intended for dry hair, as the name implies, so don’t use it on wet hair (whether wet from water or sweat).
While not for everyone, I have very straight hair, so sometimes I rinse my hair with water in the shower and let it air dry. If I am planning to curl my hair, this is definitely a useful option. While I still end up with wet hair, it doesn’t strip my hair of natural oils as much nor does it require more product being added to my hair in the shower.
How Do You Style Your “Sweaty” Hair?
After a workout when I’m not planning to wash my hair, I shower with a shower cap on my head. If my hair is sweaty, I sometimes dry the sweaty parts just for a minute or so with a hair dryer. Then I go to work on my hair with dry shampoo. I am not afraid to be generous with dry shampoo. I spray around my hair line, especially under my hair where I got the most sweaty, and anywhere that needs some freshening up.
If I wasn’t all that sweaty, I might be able to wear my hair down. Most likely, though, it’s time to put my hair up. I tie my hair up in a ponytail and appreciate the volume and texture added by the dry shampoo. To prevent my hair from looking flat on my head, I pull pieces forward from the elastic to give just a bit of extra volume. Then, from just behind the elastic, I pinch my hair forward to tighten the ponytail near the top of the elastic to give it a little pop.
On days when I have a really serious workout and am dripping sweat (gross but a sign of a great workout), I wash my hair. There’s no recovery from that, and it just needs to be cleaned.
Why Do You Skip Washing When You’re Just Going To Be At Home or Running Errands? Couldn’t You Just Wash, Air Dry and Not Style?
I think one of the most important aspects of getting extra longevity out of your hair styles is training your hair to produce less natural oils. Washing strips hair of natural oils and encourages your hair to produce more oils (to replace the ones you washed out). Skipping a wash for just one extra day helps continue to “train” your hair to produce less oils. While I may not need to dry and style my hair for that weekend at home or running errands, not washing it helps extend my washes in the future and develop an ability to stretch longer between washes going forward.
Do You Really Only Wash Your Hair Once Per Week?
For the most part, yes. Depending on what is going on my life, I generally extend time between washes up to six or seven days. Beyond that, my head starts to feel itchy and my roots start to hurt.
I don’t wash my hair after every workout, but if I have a couple of pretty strenuous workouts when I get really sweaty, I wash my hair, especially if I am attending an event that requires I look “more presentable”. Consequently, I might wash after only two or three days, but that’s not all often.
Also, I have definitely noticed that over time, my hair continues to get more and more “used to” longer periods between washes. Six months ago, I never could have extended six to seven days. Now, I could probably go without washing for eight or nine days if I really needed or wanted to.
How Often Do You Dry Your Hair?
I’ve found that blow drying my hair after I wash it sometimes helps make it last a couple of extra days before it needs another wash. Blow drying also gives it some extra volume for the first couple of days after a wash. However, the heat is pretty damaging to my hair (and takes up meaningful time and energy), so I try not to blow dry unless I need it to be dry and styled before it would otherwise air dry.
I end up blow drying my hair about 2 – 3 times per month in winter and about 1 – 2 times per month in the summer when it’s easier to let it air dry.
As a sidenote, I have stick straight hair, so letting my hair air dry leaves it a little flat but still straight. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. If you don’t have straight hair, you can curl or flat iron your hair after air drying. There is still some damage from the heat, but often times it’s damage that might have been done regardless of blow drying.
Do You Color Your Hair?
After a few years of highlights in high school, I didn’t color my hair for over a decade. About six months ago, I had my first balayage treatment which works much better for me than highlighting or dying. Any type of coloring damages our hair (even though we love the way it looks), and balayage only needs to be updated about once every six months. I still have a toner treatment on it every 8 – 10 weeks or so, but that’s much less expensive and time consuming than a full color treatment.
Because it gives an ombre look, balayage also doesn’t hold me hostage to regular hair treatments due to fear of ‘my roots showing’. It grows out and I can decide to continue the treatment or not without enduring a weird phase of different colored hair or having to dye it back to my natural color. I’m committed to generally low maintenance hair and not willing to sign up for frequent and expensive color sessions, which is precisely what attracted me to balayage as a manageable commitment.
Hopefully this gives some perspective on jumping on the weekly hair wash bandwagon. In my opinion, it’s definitely a good place to be! If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to let me know. Leave them in the comments, shoot me an email or DM me on Instagram (whatever suits your fancy).
Happy Hair Styling!