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What Happens When You Don’t Shampoo Your Hair For A Year

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My hair has always been prone to getting greasy. In winter I’ve always been able to skip a day of washing my hair without it looking bad, but in the summer I had to wash it every single day. I have a ton of hair. It’s thick and long and takes forever to dry. When I heard that shampoo might be making my greasy hair worse, I got interested fast. I was with my sisters over Labor Day weekend 2014, and one of them happened to mention that she’d been washing her hair with baking soda for months and that it was working great. So, I took the plunge right then. I stopped washing my hair. I waited five days, and by then my hair was so greasy you could have fried food in it. I really wish I’d taken pictures. I washed it with a paste of baking soda and water, then waited another five days. It got just as greasy. But then, over the next ten days, I could see it getting less greasy. I was making progress.

Dry Shampoo Is Your Friend

After a couple of months, I started stretching the time between baking soda washes longer and longer. In order to do this, I needed dry shampoo. Eventually, I got to the point where I was waiting 10-12 days to wash my hair. That’s where things stand now. After a year of trying different dry shampoos, I can absolutely say that the best one I’ve found is also one of the cheapest: Herbal Essences. It goes on wetter than the others, and you’re supposed to massage it in, then wait for it to dry, then brush it. I never get a powdery look with Herbal Essence like I did with most of the other dry shampoos.

Conditioner

When I first started doing this, I tried apple cider vinegar as a conditioner, since that was recommended all over the internet. I didn’t like it. Even though I diluted it before spraying it in my hair and rinsed as well as humanly possible, I smelled like vinegar for two days. After that I just went back to using my usual conditioner, and that’s been working just fine.

The Process

Washing it is easy. I keep a small plastic container in my shower, and on washing days I fill it 3/4 full from a large bag of baking soda and add water to make a paste. I press the paste all over my scalp and scrub as hard as I can with my fingers. Then I rinse really well and condition. I don’t worry about the parts of my hair that aren’t near my head. It just doesn’t get dirty. For the first four or five days I just put my hair in a ponytail in the shower. By the time I start using dry shampoo I put a shower cap over my hair. Your hair has to be completely dry to use dry shampoo. You can totally blow dry it if it gets wet, but a shower cap is easier.

Brushing Is Key

I always brush my hair very hard each day. The only down side of going so long between washes has been dandruff, but I’m able to keep it under control by brushing my scalp vigorously. I recommend buying a brush with very hard bristles. I chose this one because I always have static problems with my hair in winter, and it’s been great for that too. When I went on vacation at the end of the summer I took pictures of my hair every day. I ended up going a full two weeks without washing it. This was a really good real-world example of what happens to my hair between washes. I jogged and got really sweaty a couple of times, I swam in the ocean a couple of times, and there wasn’t a day until the very end (days 12 and 13) when I was just home, not caring how gross my hair was or how I looked.

Day 1

Freshly washed and air dried and looking good. No Shampoo Day 1

Day 2

Travelling. Totally normal looking. No Shampoo Day 2

Day 3

Started the day looking great, then I sat in super-hot theaters at my son’s camp and my entire body felt sweaty and gross. My hair did not look good by the end of the day. No Shampoo Day 3

Day 4

Thought I might need some dry shampoo after yesterday’s sweat fest, but sweat isn’t the same as oil, and it dried. No Shampoo Day 4

Day 5

Still looked good! No Shampoo Day 5

Day 6

Went swimming in the ocean. I figured the salt would just give my hair extra texture, like those sea salt sprays. No Shampoo Day 6

Day 7

Jogged in the morning in the sweatiest weather ever. Went swimming in the ocean again, only this time I got battered by the waves and came home with a head full of sand and small shell pieces. I was afraid I’d have to rinse it in the shower to get the sand out, but instead I waited until it was totally dry and brushed it all out. No Shampoo Day 7

Day 8

Definitely had more texture than usual. Thanks, salt! No Shampoo Day 8

Day 9

Finally needed dry shampoo. I never go this long, but then again I’m usually not getting my hair wet. I’m sure the ocean water extended things. No Shampoo Day 9

Day 10

A little dry shampoo and I still looked good! No Shampoo Day 10

Day 11

Back home and dry shampoo was my friend once again! No Shampoo Day 11

Day 12

Definitely a good day for a ponytail. If I’d needed to look fancy that day, I would have had to wash it. But since I was just working from home, no need. No Shampoo Day 12

Day 13

I knew I was stretching it too far by this point, but it was another work-from-home day, so I was OK being a little gross. But you can easily see the white stuff in my hair. Hard to tell if that’s dandruff or just a build-up of dry shampoo. Probably both. Without the swimming, this would be happening on day 10 or 11. No Shampoo Day 13

Day 14

A fresh start, with freshly washed hair! And the cycle begins again. No Shampoo New Day And there you have it! Totally normal-looking hair for more than a week. I save SO much time now not washing my hair. Showers are so super fast! If you have any questions I would be very happy to answer them. Just understand that everybody’s hair is different, so what’s working for me might not necessarily work for you. If you got something out of this post I’d really appreciate a share on Twitter or Facebook, or a pin on Pinterest! I haven't washed my hair with shampoo in over a year. Here's how I do it, and here's what happens.

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Johnson McGee

Friday 30th of October 2015

I've never heard of not shampooing your hair for a year, how interesting. My buddy stopped washing his hair at one point. He eventually formed it into dreadlocks. Additionally, he put some beads throughout it for a Rastafarian look. How exactly do people with dreads wash their hair?

Amy Oztan

Friday 30th of October 2015

I've always wondered that myself!

Leanne

Friday 16th of October 2015

The timing of this post is perfect. I've been battling this theory in my head for a long tim. My hairdresser pressures me to only wash 2-3 times a week AT MOST. But like you, in the summer I am an everyday washer. I've wondered what would a comparison look like of a woman who has washed her hair every day for years next to a woman who washes only periodically? What exactly is the benefit? I know for you it was less oily, but what else? Great experiment you did!!

Amy Oztan

Friday 16th of October 2015

For me the biggest benefit is the timed saved. Washing it didn't take all that long, but the drying did. And if I actually bothered to straighten it, that would be ruined the next day when I washed it. Now if I straighten it it still looks good the next day. Most days all I have to do is brush it and go!!

Nancy

Friday 16th of October 2015

What about smell? Does it get smelly? I can attest to yoy having beautiful hair...but I don't stick my nose in it too often!

Amy Oztan

Friday 16th of October 2015

Not *too* often but you were the first! I've had Omer check it. He swears it's fine. He said a couple of times that it smelled too perfumy - those were dry shampoos that I did not buy again.

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