Growing up, I had the misconception that females were supposed to wash their hair (and style it) every day. As a tween/teenager I can even remember shampooing twice a day on many occasions. I would get up at 4:45 am (4:45 am, people!) to blowdry and curl my hair before the school bus came. (Oh, how the much-wiser-me now mourns such foolishness and precious hours of sleep I wasted to smell like Herbal Essences!)
As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve come to discover one of life’s best-kept-secrets: very few people actually need to wash their hair daily, and in fact, there can be many benefits to holding off, if hair type and conditions allow.
Here are a few reasons to consider spacing out your hair wash sesh’s:
- Hair can become brittle & prone to breakage when washed too often.
Scalp oils provide moisture and protection. Shampoo traps those oils and takes too many of them away when rinsed out.
- Conditioners can weigh down the hair and leave residues, making it dirty again.
Shampooing dries out hair, so we condition. But conditioner makes the hair need to be shampooed again. Ummmmm… yeah.
- The more that you clean your hair, the more oily it may become.
Since shampoo removes the oils that should be allowed to stay in your hair and nourish it, the scalp gets confused and will likely start producing excess oils to compensate.
- Waiting longer in between washes may give your hair more volume, body, and shine.
This is exactly why hair stylists will often recommend not washing your hair the day you come to get a fancy updo. A little grease goes a long way toward achieving luscious locks.
- Shampooing less allows for styling less.
Come on, don’t tell me that blowdrying your hair each day (or even flat ironing like I used to) is a fun activity and great investment of time. People, you could avoid having to do such things every day by simply skipping a day (or, in my case, 6) between washes. Here here!
- Cutting back on washing can save money and toxic exposure. Enough said.
So maybe daily hair washing isn’t necessary for most people. And these reasons also help explain why so many of my friends have revealed to me that they don’t wash their hair every day either.
But now it is time to talk strategy.
Whether you wash your hair every second day using conventional shampoos, wash a couple times a week with natural products, or have straight up gone crunchy by only washing once-a-week using the No ‘Poo method, we are probably still in a similar boat wondering a similar question…
How do we keep our Unwashed Hair looking clean, healthy, and well styled?”
Well, let me tell you what I do…
1 | TRIM IT.
We need to start with one of the most important (and often overlooked) points about natural hair care. YOU STILL NEED TO TRIM IT. REGULARLY.
Yes, it is tempting to just search a magical split-end-remover on Pinterest or to claim that coconut oil is the cure-all your hair needs rather than taking a drive down to the local hair salon. But please, do yourself a favor and get your hair trimmed at least every 3-4 months.
Imagine what organic gardening/farming would look like if it was never pruned, weeded, or properly harvested. Your amazing foods would be choked out, overgrown, unable to produce to their full potential, and might even rot. Shoot, God even charged Adam to till the land “by the sweat of his brow.”
It is cool to let natural things grow naturally, but we also have to trim and care for them appropriately for their natural beauty to be emphasized and recognized. Leaving split ends will cause the hair to split and break more. Trimming, on the other hand, will enable fuller, stronger locks and quicker growth (which will therefore result in hair that looks much better, even when dirty).
2 | BRUSH IT CORRECTLY.
A huge mistake made on unwashed hair is to try and brush it using a normal plastic hairbrush with widely-separated bristles (paddle brushes are included in this). If your hair is at all “dirty,” then such a brush will surely cause your hair look stringy as it leaves much of the oil close to the roots and separates the hair while brushing.
Boar bristle brushes, on the other hand, will work magic. I use both of the brushes shown above, and can’t imagine living without either one! The one on the left is this one (which we will call brush #1) and the one on the right is this one (brush #2).
Brush #1 is fantastic for detangling with its porcupine bristles (which is a good thing to sort out bed head!), and the boar bristles distribute the oils into the length of your hair, conditioning and lessening the greasiness. I use this brush for must daily styling (including some blow drying).
Brush #2 is just boar bristles, and they are extremely close together. This is especially good for distributing oils through the night brushing technique (see point 8), for styling dirty bangs, taming fly-aways, some blow drying, and for tackling my semi-greasy hair on days 4-7 post-wash.
3 | BLOW DRY IT (WHEN IT IS ALREADY DRY).
I can remember going to prom with the most voluminous hair of my life because my hair dresser blow dried my “dirty” hair. The oils that were starting to build helped protect the hair from heat, and add soft hold and shine. If you wake up on day 2 (or even 3… or 5!) post-wash and your bed head has gotten the best of you, you don’t necessarily have to wash it. Just use one of the boar bristles listed above (preferably the second one) and get blow drying!
NOTE: DO NOT blow dry your hair if there is a bunch of residual product in it (especially commercial hair spray!). The heat + the chemical left overs are likely to break your hair in a shocking way. If you are using my DIY pomade, however, you should be good. Or if you have some of my DIY hair gel left in your hair, then first use brush #1 to detangle it and then proceed to blow drying.
4 | RE-WET IT (especially for curly/dry hair).
If you have “mermaid hair” like me, then you will know that brushing it out morning and evening is not really the best idea for forming bouncy rings and curls. If I want to leave my hair with a natural bend in it, I still brush it out in the morning (and do the night brushing technique, point 8). But after I have brushed it out well in the morning, I re-wet it (using a spray bottle), throw on a little bit of my DIY Flaxseed Hair Gel, and let those curls dry naturally again. This way I have dealt with any bedhead tangles or dreads, distributed the oils to the length of the hair, and still get curls instead of a fluffy bird’s nest!
5 | USE A NATURAL DRY SHAMPOO ON THE ROOTS.
If you wake up with pretty decent looking hair but just feel like the roots need a little help, then apply a bit of natural dry shampoo to the roots. Many of you may have used (or at least heard of using) Baby Powder to do the same thing, or store-bought dry shampoos that come in aerosol cans. Many of these are based on Talc, which some studies still suggest to be linked to ovarian, lung, and skin cancers, and at best, is linked with organ system toxicity. A lot of these products also contain synthetic fragrances, which usually means petroleum-derived, and can be a dangerous wildcard for undisclosed, secret chemical ingredients.
But don’t fret! Making your own natural version is so easy!
For Light Hair:
Simply dust organic arrowroot powder (we buy this one) under the top layer of hair onto the hair roots, and gently massage/rub/blend through the hair closest to the scalp. Apply to other under-layers of roots as needed.
For Darker Hair:
For Red Hair:
Essential Oil Boost to nourish hair and mask oily smell:
Add a drop or two of essential oils (I buy mine here) into 1 Tbsp of the appropriate powders mentioned above. Apply to roots in the same way. If you choose to add essential oils, be sure to grab our free printable listing the best and most nourishing essential oils to use on hair!
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6 | APPLY STYLING PRODUCTS TO THE LENGTH/TIPS
Sometimes I find that the length of my hair starts to look frizzy (from humidity, showers, etc). Rubbing a small bit of my DIY Pomade into my hands and gently smoothing it onto the length can go a long way toward taming that. I also use pomade when I am doing certain braided styles (great for “dirty hair!”) where my layered lengths need to sit smoothly together.
The most important things to remember when putting styling product in hair that you don’t plan on washing the next day are:
- Only apply the product to lengths of hair, not roots. This avoids making the roots look greasy and helps add protection to the length of hair which is furthest from scalp oils.
- Residual chemicals can damage the hair when brushed or blowdried if not first washed out. Though I don’t find this to be true for my homemade natural products, many store-bought, chemically laden, or strong-hold products might do some damage.
7 | USE HAIR PERFUME
So you’ve got your unwashed hair looking good, but you are a bit insecure that you smell like oily scalp. You might try spritzing it with some DIY hair perfume (or trying the essential oil version of the dry shampoo in point 5).
To Make Hair Perfume:
Simply mix 30-40 drops essential oils of choice (I buy mine here) + 3.5 ounces of distilled water + 2 tsp aloe vera gel (you could also use jojoba oil as it closely mimics scalp oils, but I would shy away from other carrier oils as they might be to heavy or greasy on hair). Keep in an amber glass spray bottle (I use these), and store in a cool, dry place (or in your fridge).
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8 | BRUSH, BRUSH, BRUSH it at night.
If you haven’t caught on to it yet, I’m a bit obsessed with using boar bristle brushes on “dirty” hair. Or clean hair, for that matter!
If you are going to bed one night knowing that you will not be washing your hair the next morning, then I strongly suggest brushing through your locks for 5-10 minutes with brush #2. (If you have really tangly hair, use brush #1 first to detangle and then brush #2 for 5-10 minutes). This step will go a very long way toward naturally conditioning the hair, stimulating growth, and regulating scalp oil production so that skipping even more washes will become easier for you!
(P.S. If you are wondering what No ‘Poo is and how I manage to only wash my hair every 7 days, check out these related posts: 8 Reasons to Go No ‘Poo and No ‘Poo Method: How to Wash Your Hair with Bentonite Clay.)