It took me awhile to get my hair to the point it is now, where I don’t have to wash it more than a couple of times a week. It’s a process and I’m not saying this method will work for everyone, but it works for me.
First a little hair history: I’ve pretty much always had longer hair. Sure, I’ve cut it a few times (I had boy hair when I was 3 when my family escaped communism, but that’s another story) and the haircut of 7th grade that we won’t mention…but other than that I had long hair for most of my life. My hair didn’t get to the thickness it is now until high school though. I always had baby fine hair up until that point. Now, my hair is naturally wavy (but not in a good way) and it’s thin but I have a ton of it.
So since I had long hair that I styled regularly, I realized that not only did I not enjoy spending time styling it everyday or every other day but that it was damaging my hair a lot to constantly blow dry and flat iron it. My hairdressers always suggested washing it less, so I gave it go and have never looked back.
So, here’s the breakdown of my weekly routine and some tips and tricks I’ve learned over time.
1. Give your hair some time
It takes time for your hair to adjust its own oil production. People who wash their hair daily might find this part particularly difficult. When people wash daily, they often complain that they HAVE TO wash their hair daily because “it gets so greasy” if they don’t. Just like skin, if you over-dry your hair, it’s going to overproduce oil. So you have to train your hair to produce less oil, by letting it get oily. I know that sounds completely counter-intuitive, but after two weeks or so, your scalp should regulate and produce a normal amount of oil.
2. Start slow
3. Embrace baby powder (or dry shampoo)
Are your roots getting oily? Sprinkle baby powder (my preference) or dry shampoo onto your roots for lift and volume between washings.
4. Use Mousse
Okay, I cannot emphasize this enough. When we were in Paris, I didn’t bring mousse and was forced to do an entire blowout without it. Well, combine the lack of mousse with wearing hats all day and my hair was as flat as a board and got greasy the next day. THE NEXT DAY. This is unheard of for me. I didn’t even know what to do with myself. Here’s the secret. Volumizing mousse gives your hair body and lift at the roots—thus, your roots aren’t plastered to your scalp all day, allowing them the breathe and stay lifted. So mousse helps blowouts last longer. Because I said so. My favorite is Redken Guts 10.
5. Create a washing schedule
I know this sounds crazy, but for a Type-A like myself, a washing schedule is just another normal occurrence. I wash my hair Monday morning and Thursday morning each week. Which means I go 3 days without washing from Mon-Thurs. morning and 4 days without washing from Thurs. morning to Monday morning. So basically, since I usually don’t do anything exciting on Sundays, I leave my hair one extra day and just let it be. This is a picture of my hair on the 4th day. Not bad, huh?
Obviously, you have to re-style your hair somewhat if you want it to look decent between washings. It’s not like a magical fairy fixes your hair while you sleep. So what I do is this:
Washing day: Wash and blow dry hair with round brush and set in various size velcro roller (see my entire hair routine, here). This is truly the key to creating a style that lasts between washings. It infuses volume into the hair and creates a nice shape that you can work with throughout the days you don’t wash.
Second day hair: Lately, I’ve been curling my second day hair in sections. Once you’ve curled it in sections (I use a Hot Tools curling iron) flip your head upside-down and shake it out with your fingers to create pretty waves. If you need a little baby powder, use some, but not too much on the second day. Option two is to reset just the top/front pieces of your hair into velcro rollers (blast each section with heat from your hairdryer for a few seconds first) and then use a flat iron to touch up any other pieces in your hair.
Third day hair: On the third day (which would be a Wednesday or Saturday for me) I either re-curl it (this time in larger sections than I do on second day hair) or if I’ve left if straight on the second day, I’d touch up with a flat iron. The third day is where you might choose to add more baby powder or dry shampoo. Bumble & Bumble makes dry shampoos great for darker or red hair.
Fourth day hair: (If you make it this long) make sure your fourth day is a day you don’t care about or don’t need to be anywhere important (for me, this is Sundays when I’m usually cleaning the house and relaxing). I usually just add baby powder and brush it out a bit and let it do whatever it’s doing.
Like I said, this method doesn’t work for everyone. It’s trial and error. If you hair is very short or very fine, I imagine it doesn’t take long to wash and style it, so it’s not as much of an effort and inconvenience as us longer-haired gals, which means it’s probably not even worth it to try this method.
“What if I work out? How can I not wash my hair then?”
This is a question I get a lot. I work out and I don’t wash my hair after my workout. Sure, I sweat, but not massively. My hair is never more than ever so slightly damp at the sides and front roots of my hair. I wouldn’t even classify it as wet. When I get home from a particularly sweaty workout, I immediately put my hair down and blast it with low heat from my hairdryer (focusing on the roots). Then, I use a claw clip to keep the front part out of my face and to sort of “pouff” it up so it retains volume. I happen to be lucky and my hair doesn’t get drenched when I work out…but if yours does, another option would be to either just rinse your hair or use conditioner only when you wash it after a workout. Obviously the best choice is not to wash it, but if that’s simply not an option for you, then wash away!
Also—another option is to plan your vigorous cardio sessions around your hair washing schedule. Once again, totally Type-A, but as Tim Gunn says “make it work!” So making this method work for you as as simple as scheduling intense sweat-inducing cardio workouts on the nights you’re washing your hair the next morning. So let’s say you’re washing your hair Thursday morning—do crazy, sweaty cardio on Wednesday night.
“Isn’t it gross not to wash your hair daily?”
Nope. Everyone’s scalp produces natural oils that are good for your hair. Unless you’ve been somewhere stinky or dunked your head into a fish tank, you should be OK without washing your hair for a few days. I also change my pillowcase nightly. This is something you should do if you don’t wash daily—your hair products can rub off on your pillowcase, and you don’t want to be putting your facial skin on that every night to avoid clogging pores.
“I just can’t bring myself to do it”
That’s OK. Like I said, it’s not for everyone.
I hope this answers everyone’s questions about my hair washing routine! If you have any additional questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments below.