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View Full Version : How do you go about washing your hair less?



elizabeth474
December 30th, 2012, 11:23 AM
Hi there. I wash my hair every day typically, but I have started trying to change that to every other day. Is it truly beneficial to wash your hair less? How long does hair take to adapt to this? My hair is smelly on the days I don't wash it. Will it always be smelly or will it adapt to less washes? Thanks!

jacqueline101
December 30th, 2012, 11:34 AM
Mine adapted to weekly washings quickly and easily. I would say in time it will adapt.

spidermom
December 30th, 2012, 11:36 AM
I'm exploring the same thing. I'm trying to go from every 3-4 days to once per week. So far not so good.

One thing to combat the smellies is to wash thoroughly behind your ears to the nape hair line whether or not you wash your hair. That is where most scalp smell comes from. Also use a boar bristle brush from roots to spread the sebum down the length. I've noticed that my hair might look disgusting on day 4 but much better on day 5 after the sebum - your hair's natural conditioner - has been moved. It doesn't usually show up right after brushing, though.

kaydana
December 30th, 2012, 11:45 AM
Perhaps you could try stretching the washes more slowly.

On the first day wash your hair in the morning, on the second in the evening, then skip the third day. This would put 36 hours between each wash rather than 48, which may solve the current issues. Once your hair is used to that, you can change to washing every other day.

spidermom
December 30th, 2012, 11:49 AM
To be truthful, I'm not sure how much benefit will be gained by washing hair less often. It probably depends on what you do with your wet hair; it's very vulnerable to damage while wet because the hydrogen bonds are temporarily dissolved.

I'm trying to wash less often because I don't like having wet hair hanging all over me for hours while it dries in winter weather (even though I'm usually inside).

torrilin
December 30th, 2012, 07:22 PM
In my teens, I washed daily. By the time I was 19, I'd skip days occasionally. It wasn't really purposeful, just I was lazy and I found if I was wearing my hair in a bun anyway, it wasn't obvious if I washed on a given day. By the time I was 21, I knew my facial skin was really really really dry, and washing in a too-harsh cleanser or washing too often was a sure route to breakouts from stripping my skin of natural oils. So I was somewhat more intentionally cutting back on washing my hair too, since the same symptoms appeared on my scalp. By the time I found LHC 2 years ago, I typically washed every 2-4 days, depending on a bunch of different stuff.

As I've hung out here, I've switched to largely using fragrance free hair products. At this point, I rarely need to wash more than once a week. A lot of the feeling of needing a wash was likely a reaction to the fragrance in most hair care products. While I wouldn't describe my skin as super sensitive by any means, it's clear that scented hair products are a bad idea for me.

If you'd asked me at 17 whether my skin was dry or oily, I would have said very oily. And in retrospect, most of that was due to excess washing. Obviously, not everyone has super dry skin... but it's not rare, and trying a gentler cleansing method for 2-3 months is unlikely to be harmful. You don't have to go straight from a strong sulfate shampoo to a curly hair style low lather product. I started out by switching from washing my full head of hair every time to washing just my scalp. Same shampoo, just using less. As it became clear that scalp washes were a good thing, I started trying diluted shampoo. Nothing massive, just squeezing the lather into my scalp and massaging it into my scalp skin in sections. Those simple changes with products that were still scented got me up to a consistent 3-4 days in between washes, and sometimes a week was an option. It took around a year, which by my lights is a SUPER fast change in routine.

melusine963
December 30th, 2012, 07:36 PM
Washing hair less often is beneficial for many people because most mechanical damage happens to hair while it is being washed/dried/detangled. This is definitely the case for me.

If you're unhappy with your progress, I second kaydana's suggestion for how to stretch your washes more slowly. If even that doesn't work, you could start by only using shampoo/conditioner every other day, and using water only on the in-between days. My own hair transistioned very slowly. It would take at least two months for my scalp to adapt to each additional day I stretched my washes. I'm very envious of the LHCers whose hair adapted happily after only two weeks or so. After about two years I've finally managed to stretch my washes from every three or four days to once a week. Hang in there!

jillosity
December 30th, 2012, 09:16 PM
My hair was very oily and I tried for a long time to stretch washings using shampoo, and my scalp never really liked it. CO washing however is a totally different story! I was able to easily go to 3 days, sometimes even 4, with co washing. My hair was the greasiest the times I tried using baking soda ::so yukky:: Maybe try co washing, see how that works for you.

I'm stretching washes because I also don't like cold wet hair on me, and even though my hair is relatively short, it still seems to take forever to dry. And I'm hoping with extremely gentle treatment to get beyond BSL, so I'm doing as much as I can to try to minimize damage.

JCM
December 30th, 2012, 09:55 PM
After a while you just get used to it.
I used to not be able to go longer than 3-4 days without washing my hair. During winter a few years ago there was a bitter bitter cold front with high winds which lasted on and off for several weeks. I could not leave the house and go outside without being covered from head to toe with several layers of clothing. It was that cold. Going outside with wet hair exposed to the elements would have put me in danger. One of the sacrifices I had to make was the amount of times I washed my hair in a week. I went from washing 2-3 times a week to once a week.

Madora
December 30th, 2012, 10:31 PM
It took roughly 2 months to stretch washes to once a month only. What helped the most was to brush it every day with a clean, pure boar bristle brush, keep it covered when outdoors or doing housework, and to refrain from using anything that would attract lint/dust (oils/gels/mousse, oils/creme products.

Natalia
December 31st, 2012, 12:03 AM
The transition might go a bit easier if you do wo washes inbetween. if you dont want to get your hair wet maybe a good daily scalp massage followed by a bbb session. Monoi has several nice scented coconut oils that may help you feel fresher.

jojo
December 31st, 2012, 07:33 AM
I work nights so i find it pretty easy i just soak mine in coconut oil when its getting greasy and bun it. I cant say my hair quality has improved since stretching, i just dont have time to wash it every other day as i did. Id advise you to listen to your hair and if it looks dull or gets scalp zits as mine does if i go more than 5 days then wash it, its not just your hair but your scalp you need to watch a zitty, unhealthy scalp wont do you any favours!

Chromis
December 31st, 2012, 08:03 AM
Just.....wash it less? I never quite understand these threads, but I also grew up with once a week showers. I shower daily now since my husband thinks once a week is "weird" and I don't mind humouring him, but I put my hair up under a shower cap. No problems with greasy scalp or anything. If anything my scalp is constantly too dry. Never had any bad smells and I've asked forthright friends and my super-smeller husband to make sure. There does seem to be a washing sweet spot for wearing it down, but I pretty much always have mine up anyhow. (Gets in the way less, protects the length, and hey gotta show off those hairtoys!) Right after I wash it is too fluffy and floaty, right before I wash it is a little heavy and wants to clump a bit at the ends. It does behave the best for putting up then though!

Tota
December 31st, 2012, 08:24 AM
I used to wash my hair every second day, now I wash it every 4-5 days and even then I mostly CO. When looking back I undertand now that my hair and scalp were extremely sensitive and greasy when I was using harsh conventional shampoos. Now I use natural and gentle products and my hair and scalp seem to get less oily. I think ACV rinses also help.

spidermom
December 31st, 2012, 09:43 AM
I tried the CO thing. Not good. Diluted shampoo gives much better results.

I've been holding out for washing once per week as long as I can stand it each week, but my scalp produces lots of sebum and I end up with oily scalp hairs at about day 3.

melusine963
December 31st, 2012, 03:48 PM
A Boar bristle brush definitely helps move some of the oilies away from my scalp. Together with an updo it helps disguise the true state of my hair for an extra day, and helped me stretch my washes.

countryhopper
December 31st, 2012, 04:19 PM
I used to wash my hair daily, then did BS washes with vinegar rinses twice a week. The adjustment time for my scalp overproducing oil was a couple of weeks. I wash using shampoo again, but only do it twice a week. The day of a wash (I wash my hair at night) I use baby powder to soak up the greasies at the scalp and bun it. I second the idea to dilute shampoo. I take a large plastic cup in the shower, add maybe a quarter's worth of shampoo to about 3 cups of water, dip the length in, and then pour the rest over my scalp. I can get away with using far less shampoo this way, but I still get a good lather. It's another good way to clarify by adding just a tiny amount of BS to the shampoo and water.

RavennaNight
December 31st, 2012, 04:35 PM
It's good to move gradually. For example, if you wash daily, switch to every other day. Then, after a few days or a week, stretch another day. Every two days. Then every 3 days, etc. also, I found there to be valuable information on the NW/SO thread (be open minded! ;) ) about massaging your scalp, good combs, scritching/preening, and just adjusting to wash stretching. You don't have to give up washing your hair to benefit from the advice there about your sebum. A good bone/horn comb is also helpful. The longest I ever went without washing my hair was 2 weeks, and I probably will not do that again, but that was my scalp and hair that said so. I discovered that weekly washing works for me. YMMV. Also, if you use silicone conditioners, like I do intermittently (right now, I DO), only apply it to the shaft, don't get it near your roots and scalp, that will also effect how often you will have the need to wash! :flower:

battles
December 31st, 2012, 04:59 PM
I use a wide headband to cover my bangs and the front part of my hair, and bun the rest. It looks fine that way, and I can stretch it a few more days.

elizabeth474
January 1st, 2013, 11:04 AM
Wow, thank you so much for all the help and ideas! I appreciate it a lot! I think I want to keep washing my hair every other day. ...So basically will the smelliness on the no-wash days go away after time as my hair adapts to being washed every other day?

spidermom
January 1st, 2013, 11:39 AM
I'm kind of puzzled that there would be smelliness after only one day without washing. It makes me think you have an infection of some kind.

Did you wash behind your ears to the nape hair line?

clanless
January 1st, 2013, 02:00 PM
I went on a paleo diet and brush a lot with horn combs. Worked for me.

torrilin
January 1st, 2013, 03:56 PM
So basically will the smelliness on the no-wash days go away after time as my hair adapts to being washed every other day?

If there's a strong smell, I'd worry that you have a scalp infection. Skipping 1 day would normally result in hair that's greasier than you're used to, and maybe some extra frizz if your hair is curly, or your hair clumping at the roots if you're a straightie. It's not usually going to be something that even a really blunt family member would comment on.

I would have someone you trust double check you tho... I know I'm really prone to thinking that a change is way more obvious than it really is. Even if you pass muster tho, there's no need to go straight from daily washing to every other day. You can cut out 1 wash a week, or try going from washing your whole head of hair to just your scalp.

elizabeth474
January 3rd, 2013, 07:37 AM
If there's a strong smell, I'd worry that you have a scalp infection. Skipping 1 day would normally result in hair that's greasier than you're used to, and maybe some extra frizz if your hair is curly, or your hair clumping at the roots if you're a straightie. It's not usually going to be something that even a really blunt family member would comment on.

I would have someone you trust double check you tho... I know I'm really prone to thinking that a change is way more obvious than it really is. Even if you pass muster tho, there's no need to go straight from daily washing to every other day. You can cut out 1 wash a week, or try going from washing your whole head of hair to just your scalp.

I think the smell could be from the fact that I sweat at night or when working out. Could that be causing the smell? How do I know if I have a scalp infection?

woolyleprechaun
January 3rd, 2013, 08:32 AM
Smell? Realy? how odd. Are you sure it actualy smells or is it just that you are used to the freshly washed smell and you are not familiar with your natural scent? That happened to me. If not, I support the infection suggestion.
Perhaps the stretching washes thread would help you? I only wash weekly and never have odour problems. Its useful to go slowly and learn some good updos to help with the transition.

torrilin
January 3rd, 2013, 09:39 AM
I think the smell could be from the fact that I sweat at night or when working out. Could that be causing the smell? How do I know if I have a scalp infection?

You go to the doctor. A scalp infection is a skin infection, so you may need to see a dermatologist rather than your regular doctor. Sometimes they're bacterial, other times they're fungus infections or viruses, so trying to treat it yourself when you've never had one before is not a good idea.

I don't own a car, so I bike or walk everywhere. Sweat is just a fact of life, and sweat in your hair is pretty unstinky. It also rinses out easily in the shower. Also, as your hair gets longer and you can stuff it into updos, you'll find that it's the hair right on your scalp that gets sweat soaked, and the hair in your braid or bun is protected and less likely to get soaked.

Sweat in your bike helmet... that's a different story. Just like you wash your workout clothes regularly, it's a good idea to wash other athletic equipment regularly.

spidermom
January 3rd, 2013, 11:34 AM
Also, as your hair gets longer and you can stuff it into updos, you'll find that it's the hair right on your scalp that gets sweat soaked, and the hair in your braid or bun is protected and less likely to get soaked..

Theoretically. haha I was in hot yoga last night and both my braids were soaked from scalp to ends. I didn't have time to wash or rinse when I got home, and my hair is perfectly fine today. What scent there is comes from my shampoo and conditioner.

torrilin
January 3rd, 2013, 05:07 PM
Yeah, thus the "less likely". I pretty regularly manage to soak all my hair with sweat if I'm biking in the summer to get groceries. I usually do wind up rinsing my hair out after, because a cool shower feels good when it's that hot.

But really, if my sweat smelled that bad... someone would have told me. My sister in law is not shy about that kind of stuff, and there's no way she'd let me drip on her carpet if she'd have to wash up after me!

IndigoOptimist
January 3rd, 2013, 06:26 PM
I used to wash everyday, then I started doing it every 3 days 2 years ago. It used to go: day 1 clean hair/night time greasy, day 2 greasy hair, day 3 horrible hair! Now it's: day 1 clean hair, day 2 ok hair, day 3 greasy hair. Depending on what I've been doing of course i.e. exercising or gone out clubbing, meaning I got sweaty and my hair got greasy ;) I have to say, I never get smelly hair though :s
I find that things like dry shampoo and wearing hair up help. Today I didn't get time for a shower, so put my hair in a topknot bun and put dry shampoo in my fringe. It looked fine, in fact I got lots of comments about how nice my bun looked xD
Also, how long is you hair? I find mine it much better on the lengths now that it's a bit longer, it's just the scalp I have oil issues with ;)

longcurlygirl<3
January 3rd, 2013, 07:47 PM
It was terrible at first. My scalp would itch like crazy and I got a bit of the smells :( but it toke a month to stretch washing to just 2 days a week. I even put oil in my hair/scalp for a whole day before washing and it doesn't effect me. Also I use to spray clean water in my scalp wherever it itched with a waterbottle spray. Helped alot to relieve it. Overall, I just let it be, and pass my wooden comb on my scalp but not length to distribute oil at least an inch or two down. Hope this helped

Sharysa
January 3rd, 2013, 08:53 PM
Seconding that if you have no reason to believe you have a medical problem, it might just be that you're not used to your hair's normal smell. Especially since you've only gone from washing every day to washing every other day.

elizabeth474
January 6th, 2013, 04:16 PM
I used to wash everyday, then I started doing it every 3 days 2 years ago. It used to go: day 1 clean hair/night time greasy, day 2 greasy hair, day 3 horrible hair! Now it's: day 1 clean hair, day 2 ok hair, day 3 greasy hair. Depending on what I've been doing of course i.e. exercising or gone out clubbing, meaning I got sweaty and my hair got greasy ;) I have to say, I never get smelly hair though :s
I find that things like dry shampoo and wearing hair up help. Today I didn't get time for a shower, so put my hair in a topknot bun and put dry shampoo in my fringe. It looked fine, in fact I got lots of comments about how nice my bun looked xD
Also, how long is you hair? I find mine it much better on the lengths now that it's a bit longer, it's just the scalp I have oil issues with ;)

Ok. My hair is a few inches over shoulder-length.

HintOfMint
January 6th, 2013, 04:42 PM
I've found that frequent washing can be bad for hair. According to Beauty Brains, water swells the hair shaft, lifting the cuticle. As it dries and water escapes the shaft, the cuticle goes down, but the more frequently this happens, the harder it is for the cuticle to resume its original place. The cuticle can remain lifted and ruffled from the wear and tear of becoming soaked and dried on a frequent basis. This can, paradoxically, dry hair out as the cuticle isn't intact to maintain moisture, particularly towards the ends where the structure of the hair is just older and more delicate.

I have found that a good conditioner and leave-in helps mitigate this significantly so that I can wash hair more frequently since the smell is definitely something I don't care for. I also will wear my hair in a high bun and wear a headband and some perfume when my hair isn't presentable but I don't feel like washing it.

RileyJane
January 6th, 2013, 04:54 PM
I remember my transition, in high school I used to have to wash it daily it would get so greasy. Then my friends told me to try every other day and it went alright. For the past 4 months I have been very lazy with my hair n somehow ended up washing 2, maybe 3x a week even with lots of sweating. Just give it time :)