How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for 6 Days

You know what we haven’t had on the blog in a while? An experiment. Let’s remedy that, shallll we?

Anyone who pays any attention to the care of their hair has probably heard that you’re not supposed to wash it every day. Daily lathering strips your hair of natural oils, leads to dryness and breakage, and (for those of us who color our hair) fades color and shine faster. Washing your hair too often is actually what causes oily hair (I know; the irony…) and makes your mane more difficult to manage over time.

As a medium-maintenance girl who spends a fair amount on the care of her hair, the last thing I want is to make that investment and then undermine it by doing something as simple as washing my hair too much.

So last week, I skipped shampoo-ing for six days.

Just to clarify, I did not skip showering for six days. (I’m not a mountain man, y’all.) But no water, soap, or conditioner touched my head for the duration of the experiment. (If you’re thinking of trying this out for yourself but are nervous about things getting…well…stinky, you could continue to condition your hair once or twice during the six days. Just leave the shampoo bottle alone until the end.)

The kicker to this experiment? No one knew what I was doing. Even my husband didn’t notice for the first four days (though after I told him what was going on, he did say he’d noticed that my showers had been much faster…and my hair seemed to “dry” very quickly). By the end of the fifth day, I think it’s safe to say things were getting a little…ripe. But unless someone has their nose buried in your hair, you’re probably safe from detection.

How did I do it? Here’s a quick breakdown.

Day 1: I knew this would be my only day to really style my hair, so I blow-dried it as perfectly as I could. The closer to perfect your hair starts out, the longer it will last. I used all the products I normally do (leave-in conditioner on the ends, heat protectant spray, and root boosting spray) but with a slightly lighter hand because I didn’t want things to get weighed down too early on.

Peace, y’all.

Day 2: As you can see, I didn’t really do anything on the second day except brush out my hair. (I almost always wear my hair in a high bun overnight to keep if from tangling while I thrash around in my sleep sleep, and this also helped maintain the blow-out.) I did use a few shots of hairspray on my roots to keep the style from looking too flat. If your hair is especially oily, a few shakes of dry shampoo also wouldn’t hurt on this day.

Nerd alert.

Day 3: Though my bangs are nearly completely grown out, I still have a few shorter layers that spend much of their day touching my forehead. Which means they tend to get oily much faster than the rest of my hair. To hide the evidence, I twisted back my bangs and pinned them out of the way. (Use this technique to hide the pins if you prefer.)

Day 4: Because I worked out the night before, this is definitely the day when my hair started to need a little more help. Which is why day four is when I started embracing the updo. By pulling back my bangs and cinching everything in a ponytail, I still managed to look pulled together despite feeling a little unwashed. (Ugh.)

Day 5: Not going to lie; I almost broke on day five. By this morning, I had worked out twice without washing my hair, and I was feeling a little grimy. Determined to stay the course, I just did whatever I could to keep my hair off my face (and to keep myself from touching it, thereby exacerbating the grease problem) by braiding everything back and to the side. Bonus: The extra grit actually helped the braid stay together better than it does when my hair is clean. Who knew?

Fingers got cut off…whoops.

Day 6: I was pretty happy this would be the last day of the experiment. Rather than even attempting to style my hair, I settled for my favorite “my hair is too dirty to do anything with” style and went with a top knot. The good news is that dirty hair is easier to style in an updo and the extra…gross-ness made the bun fuller. The bad news is that if you got too close, my hair was definitely a little pungent.

And it has to be said, the first shower I took where I washed my hair was practically a religious experience.

Ok, not literally, but it did feel pretty darn good. And my hair felt softer and looked a bit shinier than it had prior to the great hair-washing experiment of 2012. As for the specifics:

– After the second day, I didn’t add any additional products to my hair, though you could use hairspray or a few bursts of leave-in conditioner or dry shampoo as necessary (and to cover any smell if you need to).

– I went to the gym days 3-5. I think if I had gone every single day, I wouldn’t have been able to go the full six days without washing, but everyone’s hair texture is different. To get through at least a couple of workouts without shampooing, wear your hair in the highest ponytail or bun possible while you’re working out, and then, when you’re done, take your hair down and let the whole thing air-dry. Most of the sweat will have collected at your temples and the nape of your neck, but that’s fairly easy to conceal.

– As I said before, I didn’t wet my hair at all during the 6 days (my hair air-dries kind of wonky and I avoided heat styling after the first day), but you certainly could if you chose too. I also think adding some curl or wave to your hair the first day would help hide grease throughout the week. Just be sure to brush your hair out every night to distribute natural oils, remove any dead hairs, and keep things from getting matted.

– One of the biggest pros to this experiment was that my showers literally took four minutes. And since there was no hair-drying, I was ready to go the second I toweled off. (Ok, and after I put clothes on.) Less water and less energy usage? That’s right, folks; we’re also saving the environment while we reduce our split ends.

While I don’t know if I’ll do the full six days again, I’ve definitely been making an effort to go at least three. I think before I was just concerned that if I didn’t wash it after every workout, it would be super noticeable, but now I don’t have that concern anymore.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without washing your hair? Anyone else going to try this out?

Thanks for reading one of my blog’s most popular posts! Don’t miss my other Style+Beauty posts here. Welcome to Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One!

28 thoughts on “How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for 6 Days

  1. Pretty sure in high school once I went almost 2 weeks, eww I know. Nowadays, generally every other day but interestingly now that it’s been crazy hot I’ve only been washing it every three days because the thought of blow drying again is not enticing.
    Though, I definitely workout everyday and also work in a sweaty bar… so don’t tell my coworkers how dirty my hair is.

  2. This is fascinating to me, because I KNOW all of this, but my hair looks DISGUSTING by the end of day two. I know that you have to build to it, or whatever, but I wouldn’t wish seeing me on anyone on day three.

    But you look quite cute. Well done.

    • Haha thanks 🙂 I think you could definitely skip ahead to hairstyle four or five if things get too grimy early on.

  3. You really do have the best post topics. Loved the hair experiment. When my hair was longer, I found it easier to go multiple days without washing, sometimes up to 4. But now that it’s shorter, it’s a bit more difficult to put it in a cute up-do. I’m usually an every-other-day type girl.

    • You’re too sweet!

      Longer hair definitely helps. A big reason I started growing out my bangs was because I was just tired of dealing with the greasiness the day after I washed it. Although I LOVE your shorter hair!

  4. I wish I could go several days without washing my hair! I feel like I’d be one big, oily messy!

    Although you looked pretty darn cute, right through day 6! I’m jealousssss. 🙂

  5. Aaah I’m so of two minds on this! For one thing, it’s actually healthier for curly-haired people not to wash our hair every day (or at least not to shampoo). So I usually shampoo every other and condition the rest of the time. But I go to the gym every morning and come back a total sweatball…and then have to go to work. So the air-drying thing is not exactly the most office-friendly option. Argh!! What’s a healthy-hair-wanting gal to do?

    • Hmmm I didn’t think of that! I have stick-straight hair, but I used to work with two girls who had super curly hair, and it always amazed me how much more work has to go into cutting, caring for, and styling curls. Maybe wear your hair up at least a couple of times a week? (Thereby trapping the sweatball-ness in a high bun?) That seemed to work pretty well for me on the last day. If you already have it up while you’re working out, it’s probably better to keep it that way until the hair at your roots dries anyway.

  6. I just went to the gym today and I think I might try this after I wash my hair tonight. I hope I can stick with it without my b/f sniffing my hair all the time :/

  7. Im on my fifth day not washing my hair so far. Although I have used dry shampoo twice and only my straightner twice as well , my hair feels much healthier. I used to think I needed to wash everyday but I feel differently now. And we are NOT gross people people !

    • Isn’t it weird when you discover your hair’s real breaking point? Mine is probably five days, but I can squeeze that sixth day if necessary.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Haha. Ive gotten like 2 weeks.
        And when I “wash my hair” its like every single little bit of natural oil is gone.Dont ask me how: I dont know either. My hair lacks luster for like 3 days… then I oil it :).
        Problem solved.

  8. Well, I’m on day 4 without washing my hair. Though instead of styling it every morning, once it dries I pull it up into a combination updo that stays nice for several days. It makes my morning really quick without having to worry about messing with my hair. I can go about a week without washing my hair before it gets too greasy.

  9. OMG congrats you lasted WAY longer then i did ..ugh….my hair is slick black so when it gets oily …..IT GET REALLY OILY .And when i let it down or put it up people thought i had styling jell on **can’t live without shampoo….tips?**

  10. I’m in the Peace Corps and it’s been about ten days since I last washed my hair. And a week since my last bath. I really need to wash my hair today! It’s just a more involved process when you have to heat up water on the stove 😉

    Since I started the Peace Corps I have gradually taken more time between bathing as well. At first every other day, as I did in the States, then every three days, slow adding a day and another day. Now, I go about six or seven days between baths. It’s not hot here and I don’t work out, so I’m not really sweaty. As long as you wear deodorant, wash your face, brush your teeth, and clean your private parts, it’s hygienic. Your body does adapt. Of course, it helps when everyone else in the community has the same habits, for moral support. When bathing is a two-hour process, it’s not an everyday occurrence.

  11. i routinely do not wash my hair for two weeks at a time it does not smell and looks great. I use TEC Italy conditioning spray daily. I maybe would not reccommend this for your hair type but it works great for mine my hair is thick and curly. I am sicillian so my hair is not as light and fine as yours

    • Thanks for the tip! I can see how the extra conditioner would help with hair that has more texture. Mine is so straight, I usually have to use dry shampoo or powders to keep it fuller.

  12. Such an awesome bIog and experiment! Hats off!
    I actually played with this until I discovered – since my hair is really dry – that 5 is my magic number.
    Thanks for letting us know that we’re not alone! Haha 🙂

  13. The longest I’ve ever gone was 8 days and it was over the summer tooo….YIKES!
    I only did this because I was taking important pictures and I wanted my hair to look better than it ever has, and it worked! Not only was hair in better shape but I also learned many new creative up-dos!

  14. *groans*
    I used to wash my hair once a week. Icky, I know, but I don’t really care about my hair.

    I think my record was about 2 and a half weeks, but that was because I was so busy I never had time after the first week was up.
    (I used to have it in a ponytail, so it was less obvious then)

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