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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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7 years ago

Wow, I cannot imagine not washing my hair for such a long period of time! I’m always concerned that my hair looks too oily, and since I like to show off my curls I need to wash them at least three times a week!

7 years ago

Love this <3

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

dream hair!!!!

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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)

7 years ago

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!

7 years ago

I find it so strange how people’s hair differs, I’ve always washed mine every day/ nearly every day and it is so healthy, yet my friends don’t work the same. Your hair looks lovely so keep doing it…
Infinity of fashion// Lucy Jane

7 years ago

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

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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!

Lucy Caitlyn
7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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

7 years ago

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!

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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

7 years ago

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 ;)

3 years ago
Reply to  Julie O'Boyle

Or he’s too whipped to say anything.

7 years ago

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!

7 years ago

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.

7 years ago

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 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.

7 years ago

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!

7 years ago

I have always heard that you shouldn’t brush curly hair. What is your thought on that

7 years ago

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!