Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HAIR: How I Wash My Hair Only Once A Week

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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 five to 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:

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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 mid-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 with an Aquis hair towel, which helps absorb more water and dry my hair faster, I work a little oil into the ends -- either jojoba, sweet almond, or some balancing hair oil -- and allow my hair to air dry overnight.
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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.
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Thursday: My hair is finally (finally!!!) long enough to pull into milkmaid braids. It's grown about seven inches since my last major (awful) 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.
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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.
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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 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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This post originally appeared here as part of my work with Free People. Images by Jana Kirn


Brittany PG said...

I wish I could do this, but my hair gets oily after two days. I also use a sulfate free shampoo- OGX- and I love it.

Kate @ said...

I worked my hair up to being able to go without washing for, like, 48 hours, but beyond that, it gets suuuuuper oily & gross. I'd love to work up to this!

Tieka Ellis said...

I'm the exact same way -- I only wash my hair on Sundays. I'm lucky that my hair never really shows oil, and honestly the greasier the better because it's so frizzy on the first day of washing! Glad to hear I'm not alone! :)

Veronika, By The Shore said...

Firstly, your hair is looking gorgeous!! <3 And me too, only wash mine once a week, dry shampoo and beachy waves are definitely my saviour as our hats & top knots! xo

sara said...

I'd love to do this, and I want to try, but always on the second evening my hair starts to literally hurt and then I get a headache and the only cure is washing it. It's like the oil buildup "cements" my hair into a position and if I try to move it (brush it, put it up, take it down) it aches and aches. The same as when I was little and my Mom used to shellac my hair with Aqua Net for dance recitals. I no longer use any hair products, so I know it's just my natural oils on my head causing this, but I just can't get past it. It hurts way too much. So I wash every day. And my split ends never go away no matter what else I do to keep them healthy.

Anonymous said...

You have the best hair. But actually I want to ask about the brown blouse in your "Monday" look, it's perfection! Probably a great vintage find, but I wanted to ask just in case it's something I can find online!

Orchid Grey said...

Anon - thank you for the sweet words and the top is actually a dress... and it's not vintage! You can find it here: (I'm completely obsessed with it)

perennisnoctu said...

When I worked a night job where no one saw me I was able to get off shampoo and conditioner entirely. After a few weeks your hair stops being oily because shampoo isn't frying it anymore. I make a paste of baking soda (#1 ingredient in shampoo anyway) and water once a week for my roots and massage it in. Once I awhile I use oil on the tips, but in two years no split ends and grows so fast! I do have to brush it a lot with a boars hair brush and I shower and rinse it with water everyday though.

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