How (And Why) I Wash My Hair Only Once A Week

That’s right, once a week. 

It started with scissors. And bleach. Bent over the kitchen sink at a boy’s house, I watched the slightly soapy water circle the drain as he rinsed the Manic Panic bleach kit from my hair, freshly shorn by my own two hands into a short, choppy Courtney Love-inspired mess (here’s your proof). After years of experimenting with over-dyes and coloring random chunks of my hair, I’d finally taken the plunge and bleached the whole thing after hacking it all off. It was exhilarating, ridding myself of all that hair and transforming the color into something completely different, but I never expected that kitchen sink metamorphosis to lay the foundation for one of the main beauty secrets that I still swear by more than a decade later…

I only wash my hair once a week…every seven days or so.

Back then the short length, dye job, and fact that I preferred the Buzzcocks and Bikini Kill over boy bands and Coldplay was excuse enough to forego regular shampooing. I quickly learned that “dirty” hair equaled perfectly messy hair. Hair that didn’t require much attention beyond the occasional root touch-up and baby bang trim. And when it came to caring for my dry, bleached ends, allowing my hair to relax a little between shampoos made it softer and less prone to breakage. Time passed, and I eventually grew my hair out, changed it from blonde to jet black to half & half to brown and back to blonde again, let it grow some more, chopped it off again…and throughout these subsequent transformations and lengths, it never occurred to me to change up my shampoo routine. Why mess with imperfection? All these years later, I still only wash it about once per week, sometimes more, sometimes less. This is a fact that, when divulged, is often met with shock, questions and, admittedly, sometimes disgust (turns out, people really like to wash their hair). Now, in the interest of self-preservation and lest you think my habits are truly horrific, I assure you I do shower daily. But I’ve found that with less frequent washing my hair is healthier, grows faster, has fewer split ends, and is more resilient to chemical processes (though I haven’t colored it in quite awhile). Oh, and I don’t use dry shampoo and I hit the gym 3 to 4 times per week. I know… how?

Here’s how:

HairRoutine1

Sunday night, shampoo night: Before washing my hair, I brush through it thoroughly starting at the ends and working my way up using a natural bristle brush. Once in the shower, I wash my hair with a sulphate-free shampoo (my favorite is Living Proof PHD), concentrating only on my scalp and roots (the suds will run down and clean the remainder of my hair without causing extra drying and damage). I lather-rinse-repeat twice to clear away any buildup, giving my scalp a good massage at the same time. After rinsing, I apply conditioner to the middle length of my hair to the ends and leave in for a few minutes before rinsing. Opposite of my only-wash-the-roots rule, I only condition the ends because they don’t receive as many natural oils and moisture as the uppermost part of my hair. After patting dry, I work a little oil into the ends — either jojoba, sweet almond, or Plantfolk Apothecary’s Flowers in Her Hair — and allow my hair to air dry overnight.

HairRoutine2

Casablanca Maxi

Monday: My hair is usually still a little damp in the morning so, after brushing it back out I’ll apply a little more oil to the ends (and maybe some styling cream) before drying it the rest of the way with a blow drier. If I have time, I’ll use a curling wand and some dry texture spray to add a little texture to my otherwise pin-straight hair. If not, it’s a messy bun day (truth: it’s almost always messy bun day).

Tuesday: Since no blow drying is needed, after brushing out any major snags I add some loose waves in the front, spritz on some hairspray for hold and I’m out the door. If I can get away with it, this is my daily style. After work, I throw it in a ponytail for my workout. I don’t mind a little sweat, and my head doesn’t sweat that much anyway. When it comes to showering, I just put it in a bun and don’t allow my hair to touch the stream of water.

Wednesday: I’m in a rush, so I play around with my part, parting it on the side and pulling it into a low ponytail. No brushing today, I like the mess.

HairRoutine4

Denim Ruffle Dress

Thursday: My hair is finally (finally!!!) long enough to pull into milkmaid braids. It’s grown about seven inches since my last major haircut in October 2014. Short hair was fun but a surprising amount of work without the help of bleach this time around, so I’m excited to see it getting long again. After brushing it out, I braid both sides and criss-cross it over my head, securing with some bobby pins. Out of my face and easy.

HairRoutine3

Simply Deep V Shift, High Noon Crystal Choker, Cobra Felt Matador

Friday: Hat day. Brush it out, braid it up, slap a hat on top of it all. Hats fix many transgressions and today a large-brim western is hiding my roots. Pro tip: placement is everything when it comes to braided pigtails. Braid them close to the back of your head, instead of next to your ears, to avoid looking like a child. After my HIIT workout tonight, I brush it out and toss it up in a messy bun. If I’m going out, I’ll probably wear a different hat or braid it again.

Saturday: I’m feeling lazy and I like how my hair looks after my weekend workout, so I decide to keep it in a high ponytail.

HairRoutine6

Tree Swing Printed Top

Sunday bun-day: The final countdown. Bun day. I usually just hang at home on Sundays, so I’m not worried if my hair doesn’t look its greatest. Tonight, I’ll repeat the process of washing it and, if my ends feel dry, I’ll use a hair mask to deep condition and add in some much-needed moisture.

While this schedule doesn’t necessarily ring true for every week, and there are definitely circumstances that warrant more frequent shampooing, this is the routine I generally find myself falling into and will probably stick to. Faster growth, no split ends, quick and easy…my hair has never felt better or looked healthier and I’m not gonna argue with that! At this point, the thought of washing and drying my hair daily, even every other day, is enough to make me cringe. As I’ve evolved over the years — from the lowest of low-maintenance to loving hair and beauty — I’m still not willing to spend more than a few minutes on it daily, which is something I believe my current and former selves would agree on.

I’m curious, what routine do you swear by? Are there habits you made when you were younger that you just never strayed from? Please share!

HairRoutine5

Fashion Me Fabulous Tunic Sweater

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Comments

  1. Yeah, that’s pretty much what I do. My hair is like a sponge, so it takes about twenty four hours to dry. And as the roots get oily, I wear it in a French braid and then a bun. I’ve been experimenting with a dry shampoo and a boar bristle brush, too, but I’m undecided about them so far.
    Honestly, I think I notice that my hair gets oily way before anyone else does. I ask my friends about it every now and then when I’m feeling self conscious, and usually they say it looks normal.

  2. My hair also takes FOREVER to dry, so I have got mine down to twice a week washings. I wish I could do once a week though, I really do! The day after washing, I apply a little cornstarch to my hair before going to bed… this keeps the oil at bay for up to 3 more days. I also apply oil to the ends to keep them hydrated, but I don’t brush my hair anymore. Like, ever. It was making my hair a poofy mess so now I comb it out when wet and don’t touch it again unless I absolutely have to!

    Anyway, I’m jealous you get through a whole week. If we lived in a drier climate I think I could do it.

  3. i actually wash my hair only once a week as well! i have bleach blonde hair with grown out roots so i notice the dark part of my hair gets shiny as early as the second day. i do have super oily hair and my head does sweat a lot so i am surprised i’m able to go so long without washing it. normally the first three days, i wear my hair down and by day three i’m using dry shampoo or baby powder. day four and five are braid day or head band day (interchangeably), day six is pony tail day and day seven is top knot day.

    ohsheslovely.blogspot.com

  4. I’m sorry, but your hair looks greasy, even in the pictures, so I can imagine how it could look in real life. I usually wash mine twice a week, but through the last few months I washed it every second day, as my hair and skin got oilier due to hormonal imbalance (so I’m not a “hair-washing fanatic”, I belive in washing your hair as soon as it gets oily, but the less the better)

  5. I totally agree! I have been dyeing my hair red for ten years now, and realized that even getting my hair wet makes the color fade. So I also only wash my hair once a week. Just like Julie people are always surprised and say “oh, I could never do that” but I tell them I too thought I had to wash my hair every day. The less you wash your hair, the less oil it produces over time, and thus the less you feel the need to wash it. My hair became less frizzy and was much healthier after I stuck to this routine. I’ve been washing my hair once a week for 5 years now, and it’s never felt better, even though I dye it every month!

    Oh, and Anna, I disagree! I don’t think Julie’s hair looks oily at all, but that’s just my opinion. I agree with Katerine, it’s dream hair!

  6. Anna – To each their own. I don’t mind a little oil and find it’s easier to style in braids and other looks when it’s got a little grit, so it actually encourages me to change things up more :)

  7. Ralizabeth – I think it’s definitely more noticeable on brown hair, as my hair has gotten darker over the years I’ve been more aware of when it truly needs to be washed

  8. Liz – Ohh, I understand the poof! It actually pains me to brush it sometimes, because I know I’ll end up with some weird poofyness, but it does help to get rid of stray hairs. You should check out Jana’s routine – she doesn’t brush either and her hair looks great!

  9. Karen – Aww shucks, thank you! Red is definitely the most difficult color to keep vibrant, so it makes sense to not wash it as often. I’ve noticed my hair is much less frizzy, too.

  10. julie, your hair is FAB! it DOES NOT LOOK DIRTY GREASY OR GROSS AT ALL.
    it looks amazing. rich girl hair!

    i stopped using all nasty chemicals in my hair this year. i went low poo and i don’t think i will ever go back.
    i have had perms, dyes, bleaches and that horrible brazilian straightening thing and my hair was just getting worse. now i use an all-natural shampoo bar, and diluted vinegar instead of conditioner. only pure argan & avocado & pracaxi oils on the ends (or a drop all over – my hair is very fine), and i style it with homemade salt spray. nothing else. i wash it 2 or 3 times a week. and it dries SUPER FAST now, because there are no nasty silicones coating my hair. and pure henna to boost my natural red. i am loving my hair!
    great post! xox

  11. Not sure this would work for curly hair? I have curly hair and have to wash every 3rd day otherwise it’s loses the curl and starts going into dread-mode eventually.

  12. Have you tried the hair masks by Hello Hair? They’re AMAZING for dry/damaged/dehydrated hair (though all hair types can benefit!) Definitely check them out if you haven’t before!

  13. I think your hair looks great too.
    I was a 3/4 times a week hair washer for 40+ years. Then I was seriously ill and couldn’t wash it for a month. First week was fine, second week a bit itchy but I was sweating a lot. 3/4th week I used a bristle brush and no problem.
    Since then I generally wash my hair 1 per week and then only in baby shampoo and use a Boar bristle hair brush. If I’ve been sweating a lot (my answer to extreme pain) I let warm shower water run over it but no soap.
    When my hair is very short I don’t use the brush, just dry massage my scalp 1 x week and finger comb my hair.

  14. This is pretty standard for thick/curly haired people. My stylist actually told me to stop washing it so frequently (unless I’ve been at the gym/beach) and ever since I switched, my hair has been so much healthier! Great advice, Julie <33

  15. I have super-fine, curly, color-treated hair, so I wash twice a week. I wish I could get down to once a week, and I’m working on it! I’ve noticed, over the years, that my hair is actually healthier and softer and more manageable now that I wash it less frequently. The first day after washing, my hair is a poofy mess, though… a little *too* clean, so it definitely needs a little lived-in lovin’ to help it calm down a bit. Right about when I get to washing it the next time, it’s looks less like a riot of soft red curls and more like beachy, rope-y hair, which is how I know it’s time to wash!

  16. When I was young, I had long hair that I washed twice each week. Then I switched to every other day for about 40 years, and my hair was short. Now, I have long hair again, and I wash it about once a week, like you. When it’s wet, I leave it down, but I will put it in a pony tail or top knot day 3 on. If I’m not going anywhere, it might be longer. I am growing it out to donate to Locks of Love. If your hair is not currently processed, and if you decide to go short again, I hope you will consider donating it. It has to be put in a ponytail with the longest length being at least 10″. Mine is getting close, and I can’t wait to go short again. Once it’s short, it will be easier to wash and dry, so I might wash it more often.

  17. Amelia – I agree that donating is the way to go! i donated my long ponytail in high school before it had been processed and would definitely consider doing it again.

  18. I am looking for serious help on my hair. So jealous of you ladies with long luscious soft locks. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but my hair tends to get oily after only 2 days sometimes or my scalp gets itchy. I can’t imagine not washing or shampooing my hair for 4+ days.

  19. I also wash my hair once a week, but I do it mostly out of sheer laziness. I have thick, wavy,frizzy hair and this is what works for me the best. Once a week I slather my hair in coconut oil and let it sit for about an hour, than i shampoo, do an apple cider vinegar rinse, wash again and do another ACV rinse to reall get rid of all the build up and then i condition my roots. My favorite products for shampoo and conditioner are Pureology’s Hydate, it smells like peppermint and makes my hair super soft, plus their products are vegan! I love using apple cider vinegar to balance my scalps PH, reduce frizz and it also makes my hair extra shiny and sift

  20. Ok can we get to the really important questions…at what point does your hair smell? And aren’t you self conscious about the smell while romping around with your beloved? My man likes to run his fingers through my hair so greasy locks are a no-go. Nonetheless I was my hair about 3 times a week. Sorry, babe ;)

  21. Woobear – The short answer is, it doesn’t. If it smelled, I’d surely wash it sooner. And because it’ doesn’t smell, my husband doesn’t mind.

  22. Heck yes to once a week washing! I’ve had my pin-straight, fine hair bleached since forever (now a copper to platinum ombré) and the only way to keep it from looking like straw was to baby it like that. SLS-free shampoos are the best- Color Proof’s line is probably my favorite.

    After shampooing, I’ll sometimes apply a hair mask (srsly one of those $1 packs from Sally’s will do, they make your hair smell like fresh banana!) and a bit of extra conditioner at the ends. Boom, done. No more frizz-easing serums, just a little blob of a heat protectant if I’m blow drying it.

    I’m so jealous of your milkmaid braids, they look adorable!

  23. I usually don’t go a full week, but I’m going to give it a try. My hair is very curly and DRY and I learned in High School that washing it all the time just makes it sad and turns it into tons of extra work. It also practically drinks moisture so I regularly put coconut oil on it or spray a mixture of essential oils, almond and coconut oil on it. This makes it smell great and defines the curl. And since I bleach it, well the need for moisture is just that much stronger. I also NEVER use sulphates in my shampoo – they are murder to curly hair. Sometimes when I shower I only condition.

    I actually can’t remember ever having a time when my hair actually seemed oily, if anything the curls just get really messed up, which is why I love my spritzer. However, if I decide I want it straight – this is such a production that I will leave it in it’s straightened state for at least 4 days, and if I can figure out how to extend the way it looks I will go longer with it, but it takes a ton of moisture, hot oil treatments, masks, etc for me to get shine when I straighten it.

  24. I only wash, and condition,once a week as well.
    I will obviously shower every day,but put up my long,thick,but not too damaged (atm) and not color-treated (yet…I really want SOMETHING)hair in a bun,or wear a shower cap.
    I then add some leave in conditioner.oils,and then let it almost all the way air dry.When it’s about 80% dry,I start scrunching,and twisting the ends.Then, that night, I sleep with it in either one or two loose,high twists.I wake up with slight waves.
    The rest the week is just maintenance-I don’t go to the gym so I don’t really sweat.I use some dry shampoo,and will occasionally put it back in those buns,with texturizing spray,while I’m asleep,or getting dressed.I will pull it in a half too knot,or bun,or deep side part chignon,messily,as the week goes by.
    And if I straighten it,I put it in a high point with a scrunchie at night.
    This had taken time,tho.I used to wash my hair every day.I started washing every other day,then twice a week..you get it.
    A good cut is key,I have long layers,but they look pretty with minimal effort, as there are a lot of them.My hair is thick, too.I noticed how much healthier it is now,as opposed to before I started my weekly washes.It grows SO much faster,with trims.
    My hairdresser is another weekly washer…she got me thinking about it-it isn’t for everyone, but for me,it works.
    xx

  25. I have very fine hair from my mom and slightly thicker from my father…fine hair has an oil gland for each hair and can get oily faster whereas thicker hair has more distributed oil from multiple hairs in each gland. I’ve had EVERY length, color and cut including mishaps like a whole chunk of overly bleached hair cracking off in my HS hand. I love a good half up-half down, braids, and crimps, yet truthfully I am so glad I stopped styling! Most likely that feeling developed over the years with the worsening of my Lyme disease, which makes things like putting arms over my head feel like someone lot my spine on fire…sooo, styles, go take a hike in a lake! I slowly stretched my washing routine from daily to weekly and now more like 2-3 times a week with conditioner only. The oiliness does lessen even for us fine haired girlies…I don’t brush it other than with a Mason Pearson boar bristle brush in between washes to redistribute the natural oils(plus it feels amazing and stimulates the scalp) with very little breakage. I use soft elastics religiously and let it air dry in a messy topknot that I take out and put back up a few/a zillion times as it dries, ensuring that the waves I want form and last for a few hours to a few days depending how much I let it down after its dry. No toxic products, must be green. Ideally don’t need shampoo and just co-wash with conditioner when I need an extra feeling of clean. Showering often drums up the Lyme buggies so many of us don’t prefer them, so skipping the hair wash seems simple when you rinse and run! I do a hair mask in the bath since I’m able to leave it on longer. I make my own hair oil, this month it’s almond with lemon essential oil. Yum!

  26. I love this story! I’ve been washing my hair once a week for the last 4 years and I love it. It started from sheer laziness, and in all honesty, it got really oily at first. But your body eventually adjusts to it and stops producing so much oil. It only produces all that oil to adjust to being stripped from all that shampoo! I fully believe it’s better for your hair in the long run and if you can suffer through the first couple of months of greasy hair, you’ll be so glad you did!

  27. I have very thick wavy medium length hair but a few months ago large amounts started falling out. In my family our hair goes white at a very young age so I do dye it often and have cut it, shaved it and highlighted it in the past. I changed up my hair routine and have seen a major difference in the way it grows, how healthy it is and how often I have to dye it. I wash it on Sunday. I start with coconut oil for a few hours or even the night before. I wash and condition hair, but then use a tea rinse made with rice water. I leave the rinse in my hair let it air dry and then put just a bit of coconut oil mid way to ends of my hair. If I feel like I need an extra wash I will wash it mid-week but its not often I do. My hair routine is a work in progress. I am thinking of no longer using conditioner and of using an Apple Cider Vinger hair rinse instead of shampoo. My hair does not get oily and I have been receiving many compliments on how healthy it looks. This sure beats washing, conditioning, trying multiple hair products to try to keep hair healthy, blow drying, and straightening! Julie I just stumbled on your blog but really enjoy all the information you share and feel like I am definetly learning many useful tips. This is the first time I have ever posted a response to an article or blog. Thank you!

  28. I am so glad to know, I am not alone in my weekly ritual! I wash my sheets once a week, usually Monday. That is hair washing night. I started using Bumble and Bumble hairdresser’s invisible oil sulfate free shampoo/conditioner about six months ago, followed a wide tooth comb ( I’m old school I just can’t use a brush on wet hair ) a couple of drops of hairdresser’s invisible oil. Comb it out and I am done, let it air dry. I rarely blow dry my hair, if I do, I use hairdresser’s invisible oil heat/UV protective primer. In the Summer I switch to bumble and Bumble surf foam wash shampoo /conditioner and surf spray… This has been my routine for way longer than I can remember… No one has ever told me my hair is gross or dirty looking, it just works for me… And I swear my hair is amazingly healthy.

  29. So glad I’m not the only one! When my hair started to fall out I started to freak out a cutting back on the washing has helped significantly!

    I’ve also added a homemade deep conditioner regular hair routine.

    Easy DIY recipe for the deep conditioner:
    1 tablespoon warmed coconut oil
    3 drops geranium essential oil
    3 drops ylang ylang essential oil

    Mix together, drizzle over hair and gently massage in.
    Works like magic!

    *be sure you’re using 100% pure essential oils. Often times the ones from the grocery store are diluted with ingredients that are more damaging than healing!

    I’ll definitely be adding more hats to my collection to help cover my roots come day 5 and 6.

    Thanks for sharing! <3

    Tawny
    http://www.TawnyMcLeod.com

  30. Really cool story! I think a lot of people would be scared to take the plunge and start washing their hair only once a week – I know i wash mine every other day at least and it seems so greasy by the end of day two. But maybe I should try it? Plus would save a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner!

  31. Izzy – It’s worth it in the savings alone! I now only have to purchase shampoo every few months or so — maybe three times a year? And because of that I don’t mind splurging on the nice stuff :)

  32. i usually only wash my hair if i’ve been in a chlorinated pool, which i do on alternating days excluding the weekend.. it ends up only being once or twice a week!

  33. Thanks fp julie. Is there a particular dry shampoo anyone would recommend for those in between days when hair starts to look a bit greasy?

  34. We have almost identical hair washing habits!! In the winter I sometimes go longer than a week. And my hair is super healthyI use very natural shampoos and sometimes I simply wash it with Dr Bronners peppermint soap. And yes I always get tons of questions and some disgust when I tell people how infrequently I wash it.

  35. For anyone who washes more often or even daily, and can’t imagine going an entire week between washes, know that your hair and scalp adjust. I was a daily washer and then went to every other day for a couple of months, then every third day…every fifth day, and now over time, I am a weekly washer.
    It saves time and product, and is so much healthier. Eventually, breaking the habit of blowing drying/flat ironing will also do wonders.
    I am not a product junkie either, but as the author does, I do apply a serum to the ends of my damp hair to make them behave. And then, on day 5 after a wash, when the soft, fresh, clean feeling is wearing off, I will apply something I swear by…”Bedhead After Party”. Just a squirt rubbed in the palms of my hands and distributed through the bottom half of my dry strands makes my hair so soft and detangled, so that it lasts another couple of days until the next wash.

  36. I started washing my hair weekly due to medical issues and didn’t feel like washing it. When 3 or 4 days have passed I just wear it up. I’m so glad to see I’m not the only weekly washer. I felt bad about it but my hair does grow faster now and more healthy I think.

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