Let’s be real: I’m a busy and important business lady, so sometimes I just simply don’t have time to wash my hair. LOL JK. I usually want to skip washing my hair because I’m knee-deep in an 85-hour-long episode of The Bachelor and wild horses couldn’t tear me away.
In general, I want to extend my shampoo as far as possible for a few different reasons: I’m traveling and I don’t want to waste time re-styling my hair each day; my hair has been freshly cut and colored and I want to avoid over-shampooing; or my hair is feeling super dry and I want to keep some of the natural oils around for shine. To give you some background: my hair is fine (but there’s a lot of it), long, and wavy. Since my hair is naturally pretty dry and holds a curl well, I can make it a good while without needing a vigorous shampoo sesh. Below are a few of my tips for extending a wash. Your mileage may vary, based on your specific hair type.
Start with really (really) clean hair
If you want to live the less-hair-washing-life (so much more time to sit on your bed in a towel after you shower, staring into space!), you have to start with the right canvas. For me, that means a specific regime and a shampoo that I know gets my hair really clean. So clean that a ponytail holder just slides right through it like water. So clean it’s rated G. So clean that Mr. Clean would be jealous.
I always start with a good ol’ scalp massage, courtesy of this $7 tool from Amazon. Sometimes I’ll add a scalp scrub directly onto the massager for a fun remix. This lifts the nine pounds of dry shampoo that is coating my head. It also feels nice.
I follow up my scalp scrub with the Act+Acre Cold Processed Hair Cleanse. This stuff smells exactly like you’d think something called a “Cold Processed Hair Cleanse” would smell. Smelling this is what I imagine being a vegan feels like. I use it twice in a row, which is the only time in my life that I have ever followed the “lather, rinse, repeat” guidelines. The first use yields very little lather, while the second use is lather-city. Much like Dan Humphrey’s sideburns, I don’t have an explanation for this phenomenon.
Note: I really only use the Act+Acre when I want to ensure I don’t have to wash my hair for a good, long while. On regular days or if my hair is especially greasy and needs a wash, I’ll use my normal, “everyday” shampoo. Here’s a peek into my current shower setup, in case you are deeply interested in me and my routines. I, for one, am obsessed with how other people live and am constantly peering into bags and cupboards. Invite me over!
After I shower, I wrap up my hair in an absorbing hair towel for about 15 minutes. Once my hair is 60-70 percent dry, I’ll use the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer, which I have publicly declared my love for many a time. If I’ve showered in the evening, I’ll just scamper off to bed to read on my kindle until I fall asleep with it across my face like an introvert crime scene. If I’ve showered in the morning, I’m meeting with the Queen of England or it’s a weekend. In this case, I add waves to my hair with my straightener, which I bought at Target when I was 18 and is still going strong, and wear my hair down.
Tip: I don’t put any product in my hair on day one to ward off any oncoming greasiness. If my hair is looking especially poofy, I’ll add some hair lotion to the ends, but that’s it.
- Use a scalp scrub, scalp massager, or scalp mask to ensure a clean “canvas” for the week ahead
- Try a cleansing shampoo, designed to throughly clean the hair
- Avoid adding any additional product to your scalp or the top half of your hair
Always use a shower cap
As we all know, not washing your hair doesn’t mean not showering. If I routinely wasn’t showering for four days in my normal life, I’m pretty sure the other Everygirl editors would stage a hard-core intervention.
One of the biggest things that will ruin a not-washing-my-hair streak is forgoing my shower cap. The steam and mist really frizzes my hair out and it becomes unsalvageable without a trip back to the drawing board. I like the idea of living the fancy shower cap life—very Princess Margaret, no? But I also wouldn’t say no to a classic Nana cap. Whatever gets the job done.
Avoid touching the top of your head — with your hands or with product
My second-day hair looks pretty much the same as my OG style. Sometimes it looks better than my first-day hair because it has a little bit of grit to it, like a sequel that exceeds all expectations.
In the days after washing my hair, I try to avoid brushing through it too many times, because I don’t want to distribute any of my scalp oils down through the rest of my hair. I’ll usually do a brush-through once upon waking up and then only brush through the bottom half of the hair to the ends, if necessary, through the rest of the day. I also avoid putting any product on my scalp or the top of half of my hair, which is the section that will get greasier and greasier as the week goes on.
Here’s comes the hard part: trying to avoid touching my hair in any way. I’m a fidgeter by nature (which is why I can’t wear rings or bracelets and will go after a hangnail like a crazed bull) so inevitably, I want to run my hands through my hair at every opportunity as if I were starring in a Pantene ad. I also touch my face a lot. I’m working through it, thanks for asking. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your hair is is out of your face. I like to do this by pinning my hair back on each side with bobby pins (simple, but effective), pulling it half up, or doing a mini bun and securing it with a french pin.
- Don’t touch your hair!
Find the right dry shampoo
Have you ever ordered fries at Five Guys in that lil cup and the ones on the top are all bouncy and fresh and the ones in the bottom look like they’ve seen some things? This is basically the layers of my hair as the week goes on. The top layer is alright, and it could conceivably still be seen by the world without judgment. But lift up the top layer and the grease that is revealed could give even Tim Riggins pause.
This is the point where I get some product involved, i.e., dry shampoo. I firmly believe that all dry shampoo is not created equal and recommend testing out as many as you can until you find the perfect formula that works for your hair type. I’m partial to the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, which actually cleans my hair and may be a magic potion. I also really like the Hair By Sam McKnight Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo. These are both unfortunately pretty $$, but dry shampoo is my forever love and I’m not afraid to splurge on bae.
I recommend spraying dry shampoo sparingly at first and building up as you go, especially if you’re trying to get several days wear out of your hair. Too much dry shampoo always weighs my hair down and can make it feel a bit sticky or clumpy by the end of the day. I start by separating my hair and spraying the layers closer to my scalp first, since that is where the majority of the grease is hanging out. I spray once or twice, wait a minute, and then brush through the hair with a boar bristle brush (I only use this brush with dry shampoo), focusing on rubbing the brush back and forth at the top of the scalp to “blend” the shampoo. Think of it almost like teasing your hair—it’s a similar movement. Once I’ve hit the whole of my head, I’ll brush though it one last time to smooth everything out. Please enjoy this gif of me in my pajamas:
- Test dry shampoos until you find the right one for your hair type/texture
- Designate a “dry shampoo only” brush
- Use your dry shampoo sparingly
Add a dry conditioner
The world of hair has come far since I was in middle school, where I would dump baby powder on my head to absorb the oil. My mom eventually made me stop because I was starting to look closer to 85 than 13. Now, not only are we blessed with dry shampoo, we also have dry conditioner. What a hair smorgasbord.
I use dry conditioner when my hair is starting to get a little too crispy from the dry shampoo. I’ll spray the conditioner on the bottom half of my hair and brush through to restore some shine and joie de vivre to my locks. Welcome back, friends!
Protect your hair while you sleep
I’ve always had pretty long hair and one of my biggest pet peeves is rolling around on it while I sleep—you don’t know pain until you’ve trapped your hair beneath your body and then try to move your head. I also like keeping it tied back when I’m trying to extend my shampoo to keep it from frizzing out while I sleep. I do this by treating my hair like the luxurious lady it is and surrounding it with silk. I have a silk pillowcase and will often create a super high top bun to sleep in with a silk or satin scrunchie.
Grease silk is the word.
Embrace the texture
When I reach day three or four and I want to eek out just one more day, I let the texture of my hair lead the way. Grittier hair will hold like glue, so I can get last-all-day ponytails, buns, and braids. In these situations, I like to use a dry shampoo powder (rather than a mist) to go Extra GrittyTM.
Conversely, I’ll also work with the slickness to create a more slicked-back look that I can’t normally achieve without enough hair gel to make 1999 Freddie Prinze Jr. jealous. I usually go for a high pony, because it gets all the greasy hair tamed (i.e., the hair on and around your scalp) and let’s the rest of your hair shine.
I’m also a fan of this ‘do that I coped from Hilary Duff on an episode of Younger (my ultimate hairspiration). You do a deep part, and then pull all your hair to one side and bobby pin it in place right above your ear so it stays falling over one shoulder like a lil waterfall. A neat trick to work with the slick-y texture of more oily hair, while still wearing your hair down.
- Try a dry shampoo powder
- Lean into your natural texture