How To Give Up Daily Hair Washing

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You've seen it on your Instagram feed and all over the internet as people and influencers experiment with giving up daily shampooing to create healthier hair.

For some people, washing their hair daily is a must, partially because they feel like their scalp gets too greasy within a day and they may have oilier hair than most. For others, washing their hair too often is drying, causing issues like itchy scalp and brittle ends, so they might try for once or twice a week. It can be difficult to find that balance between washing enough and not damaging your hair and causing hair or scalp issues. Other factors to consider are your hair type, damage from coloring, bleaching and/or heat styling.

If you are trying to move away from daily hair washing, it can seem daunting, especially if you are in the gym every day or live or work in a hot climate or conditions and deal with scalp sweating. More than that, you may be worried about the buildup of oil or sebum if you’re not used to it.

The good news? Changing how frequently you wash your hair can be a slow and simple adjustment that reveals new options for styles as well as overall healthier hair.

Below are some simple tips to help you on your journey to shiny, healthy hair.

Set Your Hair Wash Goals

Before you even begin to change how and when you wash your hair, take a few minutes to set your overall goals for creating a hair wash schedule. Maybe you're hoping to decrease the amount of product you use on your hair or eliminate unnecessary chemicals and additives from your beauty routine. Perhaps the idea of water conservation and less products and packaging wasted appeals to your passion for the environment. It also could be that you've noticed changes in your hair that concern you, such as damage, breakage, or slow growth, and you want to test going “low 'poo” to see if you can naturally restore your hair's health.

Understanding your goals for creating a hair washing schedule will help you when you face moments of discouragement or find yourself wondering if it's worth the effort to make the changes. It can be useful to post your goals near your shower or mirror to remind you of what you're doing as well as create a way to track your progress.

You may also need to spend time collecting your different hair products into one place, including your shampoosconditioners, and styling products, in order to inventory what you currently have and to determine which, if any, products you want to continue using during this process. After looking at the ingredient lists, you may decide that you'll need to purchase sulfate-free, natural or gentle products to use instead of what you currently have on hand.

Make Gradual Changes to Wash Day Timing

If you've been a lifelong daily hair washer, you should create a new wash day schedule that allows you to slowly change the timing of when you wash and condition your hair. Don't immediately jump from daily hair washing to once-a-week washing; step down at a more realistic pace by starting with washing every other day. Then, adjust to once every three days and so on.

Because your hair is unique to you, be sure to create wash day goals and changes that work with your hair type and current damage levels. For example, if you have straight but bleached hair that gets greasy very quickly at the scalp but the ends are extremely dry, then you might need a different schedule than someone who has curly but non-color treated hair. Additionally, someone with fine hair may need to wash more often than someone with a coarser texture.

Try to avoid comparing yourself to others, but rather listen to your hair’s needs. If you feel like you can push it for another day, then do so, but don’t do it just because you “have to wash every four days only”. If you really feel like it’s extra gunky and needs to be cleaned, then be flexible with your schedule and wash if you need it.

Keep Your Workout Routine With a Cleansing Conditioner

One of the most daunting challenges of making changes to your hair wash schedule can be your equally important gym or workout routine, particularly if you make vigorous exercise a part of your daily habits. Even if you're not in the gym or working out every day, you may be a kitchen whiz who loves to cook, bake, and experiment with new recipes—recipes that can leave lingering odors in your hair.

The urge to suds up your tresses after a sweaty workout or a long session testing a new recipe in the kitchen is understandable. You can minimize the sweat and scents in your hair by using headbands when working out or blow drying your roots after exercising.  You can try head coverings when in the kitchen, or hair fragrances that will deodorize unwanted smells afterwards.

If you still feel like you need a quick wash, try rinsing your hair with lukewarm water in the shower while giving your scalp a massage with your fingertips. If you feel like you need a quick fix but want to stand strong on not using shampoo until your next official wash day, do a quick co-wash with a light and nourishing conditioner instead, such as SheaMoisture Curl Moisture Co-Wash in Coconut & Hibiscus.

Dry Shampoo Is Your Best Friend

If you’re committed to your new wash schedule and don’t want to rinse or use a co-wash, then dry shampoo is going to be your new best friend.

Dry shampoo comes in two main forms, aerosol or non aerosol, but they work the same way. Oil-absorbing agents such as talc, cornstarch and kaolin clays are sprayed or puffed onto the roots of the hair and massaged around so that they can absorb the grease and freshen up the hair.

It will not replace an actual hair wash, but it is good for extending the time between your washes. If you tend to wake up with oily roots, try using the dry shampoo at night before bed, and it will work as you sleep. You might even wake up with nicely volumized hair if you use a product like Bumble and Bumble Bb. Pret-a-Powder.

Test the Styling Options for Your Hair Type

As you move through your journey of adjusting your hair washing schedule, your daily styling will also need to be altered. One of the biggest changes is needing less time to dry your wet hair. If you use a blow dryer, this can be a huge win for your hair by removing the drying and damaging effects of hot air on both your tresses and your scalp. If you air dry, this will be a great time saver for you.

Another great side effect of less time needed to dry your hair is more time to test out different style options. Having longer hair gives you a wide range of options like ponytails, braids, and updos that can range from smooth and sleek twists to quick and fun messy buns. Even shorter hair, though, can give you style options you might not have considered on a daily wash and blow-dry routine. Play around with sleek and smooth versus wavy and loose or change the part and direction of your shorter or cropped hair to make a different statement.

Explore Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner

You’ll find that many hair stylists and professionals recommend sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. If your hair products are too drying or are leaving you with that “squeaky clean” feeling, this means your hair has been stripped of its own moisture, and sulfate-free may be the way to go.

Sulfates are simply surfactants or detergents are included these products to help clean the hair, and sometimes they can clean too well. “Sulfate-free” means that they will use gentler or milder surfactants to cleanse the hair, and can help to preserve color, reduce frizz and dryness, and may help with scalp irritation. It may also mean that you can wash more often with these milder formulas and you don’t have to abandon your daily washing schedule after all.

As you test new products, keep a journal to note when you tested them, how much you liked or disliked the scents or results, and how they worked on your hair to create the effect you wanted.

Expect a Transitional Period With Your New Wash Schedule

This is probably the most challenging part of making any changes to your hair care routine, especially a change that tries to alter a long period of following a daily shampoo wash routine.

When decreasing the frequency of your hair washing, you might experience an increase in sebum buildup that creates a new problem: greasy hair. As mentioned, dry shampoo will be your best friend through this period, and if you can get creative with headbands, scarves, hats and different hair styles.

Making a major change to any beauty routine will have an adjustment period, and extending your hair washing schedule is no different. If you commit to your hair washing schedule goals, eventually, you will find that you can wash your hair less and maintain the health of your hair more over time.