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I Wash My Hair Once a Week and it's Never Looked Better

Posted by Cariset on

I hate washing my hair. So I don't.

Growing up, my hair was thick, coarse, and wavy. It took forever to wash, and because I hated the way it dried super frizzy and wavy (still do), I'd then spend hours with my first-generation Conair flat iron trying to smooth it out, which only made matters worse. In my middle school yearbook photo, I look like I just stuck my finger in an electric socket. 
A few years later, as a sophomore in high school playing sports every day after school, I had an epiphany: I only ever got compliments on my hair the rare times that I hadn't washed it for a day or two.  So I started washing it less and less, and my hair started looking better and better.

Fast-forward to today, when not washing your hair is all the rage! (Though I would like to give my grandma's generation a shout-out for being the OG anti-washers.) I regularly go 7-8 days without washing my hair -- 5 if I'm doing a lot of extra sweaty workouts. (I promise I still shower every day; I just don't wash my hair.) And my hair has never looked better. Here's how I do it, and how to take the plunge yourself.


What to Expect When You're Expecting (...Flawless Hair)

It all depends where you're starting from. They say that for every day you'd like to extend your current washing routine, it will take an additional two weeks. So if you currently wash your hair every day and want to train your hair to last for four days, start washing your hair every other day for two weeks, then every three days for another two weeks, then every four days for another two weeks.

The idea here is that if you're washing your hair often, you've trained your scalp to overproduce oil (since you're stripping your scalp of oil every time you shampoo). So now you need to reverse-train your scalp to slow down oil production. (This "science" seems a little suspect to me, but I do know that my hair looks and feels much less oily than it used to when I washed it more often.)

One disclaimer: The length you can reasonably go without washing your hair depends on your hair type. If you have thin hair or a sleek cut with no coloring, you're probably looking at fewer days between washes (3-5) versus ladies with coarse, thick, and/or colored hair (I know women who go 10+ days between washes).

Step 1: Wash and Wash Again  

Believe it or not, not washing your hair starts with...washing it.

First, brush your hair before you get in the shower. You want to make sure all of the knots are out so you're able to concentrate on what really matters: your scalp.

In the shower, you'll shampoo twice. This is key. Because you won't be washing your hair for another 3-7+ days, you've really got to make sure you're getting rid of all the product that's accumulated so you're starting fresh.

My hairdresser recommends using a clarifying shampoo for your first wash, which should really concentrate on your scalp -- don't even worry about your hair. Really scrub your scalp with the pads of your fingers (not your nails).

For your second wash, you can use your normal shampoo, or clarifying again if you like. Make sure you scrub your scalp again, and your hair this time as well. 

Personally, I make sure to shampoo twice, but I use the same sulfate-free shampoo for both washes. (I love R+Co's Television Perfect Hair, and feel like I can justify the cost because I use it so infrequently!). 

Then, it's time for conditioner. Apply it on the bottom half of your hair only.You don't want it getting anywhere near your freshly scrubbed scalp.

Step 2: Dry

This step matters more depending on your hair.

For me -- again, frizzy, wavy hair -- it's important that I blow dry my hair smooth, ideally with a round brush. I'll even set the top with a roller or two for extra volume if I have time. The way I blow dry my hair the first day really sets the tone and shape for what my hair will look like for the following week, so I take my time to make sure I'm happy with it.

But, that's just me. If you typically air dry your hair, go for it. If you typically rough dry then straighten your hair, that's great. There is just one major key in this step:

DON'T USE TOO MUCH PRODUCT. You don't want anything weighing your hair down, and you don't want anything making it oily. As someone with frizzy hair, I found this super counterintuitive. After years of loading my hair with serums and Moroccan oils, I finally realized there were other products that helped with frizz and heat protection without weighing my hair down. I love Bumble and Bumble's Straight Blow Dry cream (here's their "All Style" version), and have heard great things about Living Proof's Nourishing Styling Cream as well.

Step 3: Maintenance

Now for the mystifying part: How do you actually keep your hair looking good for a whole week?

On dry shampoo & post-workout hair: 

First thing's first: Don't even think about using dry shampoo until halfway through your washing interval. For example, if you're going to wash your hair every seven days, no dry shampoo until day four at the earliest. Personally, I'll try to stick it out until day five if I can. This is because I limit myself to two dry shampoo uses per cycle. Personally, if I use more than that, it seems to weigh my hair down rather than perk it up, and it just makes me feel kinda gross (so much buildup!).

That said, dry shampoo is a savior when used correctly. (Drybar's is my favorite because it smells SO good, but Baptiste works just as well for a third of the price.)

Here's what I do: After I workout, I'll put my hair in a bun (not a pull-through ponytail, but a "twirl it around my finger and make it a ballerina bun"), then hop in the shower. (Use a shower cap if you're new to this game.)

When I'm washing my face in the shower, I'll also splash water on a bit of the hair that frames my face (e.g. the sweaty bits). When I get out of the shower, my hair is a frizzy mess. I promptly shake it out of the bun, brush it, spray dry shampoo into my scalp (just follow the instructions on the bottle) and massage it into my hair for 30 seconds. THEN -- and this part is crucial -- I get out my blowdryer and spend 60 seconds blowdrying the hair framing my face (getting rid of those curlycues), then another 30 seconds with my hair flipped over, drying the (often sweaty) back of my head and adding some volume. Since I've already spent the time upfront styling my hair how I want it, it will generally resume that shape after I touch it up in this way. 

For me, blowdrying not only gets rid of frizz-inducing moisture from the shower and workout, but it helps to distribute the dry shampoo -- particularly important for brunettes who can't get away with white streaks. This whole routine takes me five minutes top, and yes, I even do it at the gym. I follow the same routine every time I shower but don't wash my hair -- I just don't always use dry shampoo.

If this seems like too much for you, try using dry shampoo at night before you go to bed (still make sure you massage it into your hair). When you wake up in the morning, brush it out thoroughly, and you should be good to go.

On brushing:

My friend Sarah turned me on to this Instagram hairdresser Jasmine Rae who preaches the importance of scalp care between washes. In particular, she talks about how important it is to brush your scalp with a boar bristle brush to stimulate the hair follicles. I admittedly do not do this, but her Instagram has nearly convinced me that I must.

On touching your hair:

Just don't do it. Every time you touch your hair, you're adding natural oils from your hands (and whatever other grime you've got on your dirty paws). Don't be afraid to pull your hair back to avoid temptation.

On sleeping:

Wow, the contraptions we women will sleep in just to keep our hair looking nice! Sleep is so personal -- I never would've been able to sleep in rollers a la Mrs. Maisel. So when I go to sleep, I don't do anything special to my hair, and I wake up with it looking mostly the same. (I realize this is very lucky.) But, Depending on what mysteries befall your hair in the night, you might want to consider sleeping in a ballerina bun or a loose braid with a silk scrunchieto avoid creases, or swapping in a silk pillow case

On timing:

All in all, they say training your hair to last a week between washes takes about 4-6 months. Lucky for you, hats and headbands are so in. ;) Hang in there -- I promise it's worth it!

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