Lather, rinse, don’t repeat (until next week)

September 21, 2018

There’s something that most people are doing wrong in the shower: washing their hair. More specifically, washing it every or every other day.

Many people naturally think that their hair will be cleaner the more they wash it. However, the opposite is true—hair actually becomes greasier the more often it’s washed. This is because once hair gets used to being shampooed and conditioned, it expects to be washed more frequently and isn’t able to withstand going a few days between washes. Thus, the less often you wash it, the less oily it becomes over time.

I can easily go five days without washing my hair. I don’t notice any oil until day five or six, and that’s when I wash it. It’s not gross, and it doesn’t mean my hair is dirty. Rather, I’ve been training my hair for years (since high school) to be washed less frequently. It is now healthier, less dry and overall easier to maintain.

You can train your body to do almost anything. It will build muscle if you work out or adjust to a new sleep schedule if you consistently wake up at a new time every morning. And if you train your hair, it will become accustomed to less-frequent washes.

It all comes down to a chemical process. On a simplified level, shampoo dries out your hair, and conditioner attempts to replace that moisture. Shampoo also strips your hair of its natural oils. So while you think you’re cleaning your hair, you’re actually subjecting it to a cycle of dependence on hair care products, when in reality, hair has no biological need to be washed so frequently.

This goes for men, women and non-binary people alike––whether you have short or long hair, it should not be washed every day. Imagine if you washed a pair of jeans every day, and how they would begin to look ragged, faded and stiff. Why do the same to your hair?

It is hard at first; you can’t go from zero to a hundred. It takes time to build up to a new hair-washing schedule, and your hair will be more greasy than usual for the first few weeks. But the end result is worth it. Start by spacing it out in one-day increments––for a few weeks, add one day to the time you normally wait in between washes. Then for the next few weeks, bump it up to two. Then three. Your hair will eventually adjust, and you’ll achieve a routine in which you can go four, five or even seven days without washing your hair.

Also remember that since you’re washing it less frequently, when you do wash it, you have to be thorough. Really lather your hair with shampoo, moisturize with conditioner and make sure to completely wash out all the products afterward.

Washing your hair often is also a waste of water, products and time. Hair care products are a booming industry due to misconceived notions that hair needs to be frequently washed. I save so much money on shampoo and conditioner by washing my hair once a week. It is also a time-saver—it’s so nice to just throw my hair in a bun, take a few minutes in the shower to wash my body and then not have to dry my hair. Taking the time to establish a new wash routine will be more than worth it when you save time on hair care on a daily basis.

There are difficulties that arise, perhaps the biggest being exercise. It is hard to work out regularly and not want to wash your hair. I solve this problem by pulling my hair back while I exercise, then bunning it in the shower and washing only along the scalp line, which is where the sweat emerges anyways (as opposed to on my loose hair).

Washing your hair less is also harder if you have thinner hair, and while training your thin hair might be more difficult, it is still possible. For anyone having trouble with their new wash schedule and added grease, using dry shampoo is a much better alternative than washing your hair daily. You can use dry shampoo, especially along your roots, in place of washes to space out your wash cycle and cause less damage to your hair. As long as you’re not routinely stripping your hair of its oils and then falsely forcing them back in with conditioner, your hair will be healthier and much less dry.

There are other small things you can do to keep your hair looking healthy. For instance, don’t touch it as much––your fingers transmit their oils into your hair, which will make it greasier. The fewer products you use, the better. Additionally, the less you expose your hair to heat, such as from a straightener or curling iron, the less it will dry out.

My next goal is to cut down to washing my hair every seven days, which is where I’ll stop. My schedule is already pretty close, so after a few weeks, it shouldn’t be too difficult—and my hair will thank me.

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