Don’t Give Me Crap About My Shower Cap!

ImageI only wash my hair once a week.

I know what you might be thinking about what I just revealed. “Gross!” “Uh, eww….” “That’s nasty.” I know it seems crazy to a lot of people. It sounded crazy to me when I first heard that rational human beings weren’t shampooing on the regular. But now I am a hyper-hair-washing convert and maybe after reading this you’ll reconsider how often you really need to shampoo.

A little history:Image

I used to shampoo daily. Once puberty hit, my pores and glands opened up and poured out enough oil to compete with British Petroleum. So I washed and shampooed and I if I missed a day my hair would hang flat with grease and plastered to my head. I am no hygiene deviant. I wear deodorant and brush my teeth and I used to shampoo daily like other people.

As it happened, a few years ago I made a new friend. She was cool and stylish and had beautiful, soft-looking, natural, red tresses. One day she confessed her secret. “I only shampoo my hair once a week,” she confided in low tones. I was perplexed. Huh? Why? How? I couldn’t miss a day without looking like Snape from Harry Potter and here was this girl with awesome hair—who did not seem to have cleanliness issues—admitting out loud that she only changes the oil every 7 days! She did not go into detail and I felt somewhat embarrassed to ask.

But I didn’t forget. And after doing a little research on the internet I discovered my friend wasn’t alone. She didn’t represent a majority, that’s for sure, but I discovered that there is a whole sub-culture of girls who wear their dirty hair proudly (not loudly, perhaps, but proudly nonetheless).

What I learned:

Hair washing and bathing are such conventional activities that people hardly ever think about, much less discuss, attitudes toward them and their origins. Women haven’t always shaved their legs or tanned their skin, or shampooed the ish out of their scalps. These practices were established over time (thanks in large part to advertising).

Old convention says that a woman practices good hygiene if she shampoos every two weeks. TWO WEEKS. That is almost unheard of in today’s society. What happened? Companies knew that they would sell more shampoo if consumers used more shampoo and voila! Consumers are encouraged to consume more, they do, and attitudes change. Pretty soon everybody is convinced that if you don’t load up your locks with L’oreal or Pantene then you are not a sanitary.

ImageI learned that sebum (that’s the grease/oil that your scalp and skin makes) is produced by our glands to moisturize and protect skin and hair. When we shampoo we wash all of the protective sebum down the drain and then compensate by coating our fragile, unprotected hair in conditioners. Our scalps become virtually addicted to shampoo and overcompensate by creating more and more sebum. When you begin to space out the frequency of your shampoos your sebaceous glands will adjust and not create so much of that oil.

That’s it. That’s the big secret: break your hair of its dependency on shampoo.

That was enough information for me to start experimenting with how often I shampoo. And after 3 or 4 years of field work, I have learned a few things about making the transition. I have also come to define my own hair care needs and I do not let society or advertising establish them for me.

Now, my hair doesn’t get dirty as fast and I pretty much wash my hair every six or seven days. I believe that my hair is healthier than ever. It grows quickly and hardly ever develops split ends. I also save time, money, and water.

My tricks:

  • I found that gradually spacing out my shampoos was the easiest way for me to transition. When you first start omitting days, your hair will freak out and you will look like a grease ball. Rock hats, try out Snooki’s hair pouf, or keep a low profile to evade the skipped-shampoo-shame. **pin-up hair styles work best with dirty hair so use this time to experiment with new techniques**
  • If dandruff becomes a problem, you can easily fill a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar to mist your roots before shampooing. This will prevent flaking.
  • Dry shampoos are great for the day or two before shampooing but abstain from frequent use or your hair will feel gross prematurely and you won’t be able to hold out as long.
  • Avoid getting your hair wet. This means umbrellas and shower-caps to keep your locks dry in-between shampoos. Some may find that they enjoy rinsing their hair out between washings but that does not work for me. **If you choose to rinse your hair, I would recommend alternating hot and cold water as you rinse otherwise hair will dry looking dirtier than what you started with**
  • Invest in a boar-bristle brush. These can be used to distribute the sebum through-out the length of your strands. From root to tip your mane will be protected and you won’t have grease pooling in remote areas.

Final thoughts:

No one will take you to jail if you shampoo daily, every four days, or every 10 days. Some weeks I shampoo more frequently it just depends on my activities, my desire and whether or not I really need to. The point is that it is my personal choice. I don’t allow public opinion or shampoo companies to dictate my bathing habits and neither should you (even if that means ignoring my advice).

How do you feel about it? Comment below and let me know!


About mariannemarch

Marianne is a writer, editor, econ-freak, and makeup junkie. She can be spotted roaming around Atlanta, usually drinking coffee and scribbling in her notebook.

Posted on August 5, 2013, in Beauty and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Good and helpful information and thanks for blogging about it! On average, I shampoo my hair about 3 times a week. Any less than that and my scalp gets itchy. Not sure why.

  2. Love this post!! I only wash mine every 2-3 days and have learned some cute hairstyles to hide that fact! Can’t go much longer than that due to my workout habits though (I am a SUPER sweaty workout person). I usually love to style it down and blown out day 1, curled/half-up day 2 (it holds curl AMAZING second day dirty), and pinned up completely day 3. I could use a few new hairstyles for day 3…any ideas??

  3. Alison Hortenstine

    I wash mine 3-4 days a week because of my sweaty habits at work..EW! lol but if and when I ever get out of this business I will def consider it because my hair does not look oh so healtthy!

  4. Interesting! That makes a lot of sense! I usually wash mine every 3 days…but by the 3rd day i’m excited about washing it:) Maybe I’ll try to stretch it out one of these days.

  1. Pingback: Let me tell you a secret | Adam's Symposium.

  2. Pingback: Let me tell you a secret | Adam's Symposium

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