Please Wash Your Hair As Much As You Want

It is a truth universally acknowledged by the internet that a woman who washes her hair more than twice a week must be deeply confused, or perhaps living under a rock and therefore unaware of the 2015-2017 ban on this practice.

I’m kidding about the ban (that would be some next-level Handmaid’s Tale shiz), but I’m not kidding about the fact that concern over hair-washing frequency has intensified over the past few years, to the point that it seems like a publicly accepted facet of hygiene philosophy. Just like the sky is blue and grass is green, shampoo is public enemy #1.

There have been countless articles cautioning against daily washing and preaching the virtues of shampoo abstinence. “We are well trained to lather, rinse and repeat,” writes the New York Times. “But chances are you’re washing your hair far too often.”

Not only is this seen as not ideal, it is also touted as damaging. “You should never wash your hair every day,” says celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson to The Huffington Post. “All this does is strip essential oils from your hair. Day-old hair styles better and generally looks better than freshly washed hair.”

You guys! We are living in a hair-washing fear culture filled with shampoo smear campaigns and 14-day fasts. I didn’t realize the extent of it until I was getting my hair highlighted last weekend and my beloved stylist (blonde-making magician Cara Craig of Suite Caroline salon) offhandedly mentioned that she washes her hair every day. My reaction was one of horror. “You do!?!?,” I asked, stunned. My gut reaction was to immediately start…well…hair-shaming her. “You’re not supposed to do that, you know,” I wanted to say. But then I thought, who am I to question a hair stylist about hair? Isn’t she the one touching hundreds of scalps all day long? So instead, I asked, “What do you think about all the hype about how you should only wash it, like, once a week?”

“I do support not washing your hair everyday if that’s your preference — it’s just not for me,” she said. “I wash my hair every day because I think it looks better. I have fine, blonde hair and my scalp is relatively oily. Maybe it’s just that my face is not dry and I wear longish bangs, so I like to keep them clean. I also exercise in the morning and need to at least rinse my hair after that. It feels good when my hair is clean and it looks better, too.”

Huh. Sounded pretty logical to me. Exceptionally logical, actually.

I asked her if there was any validity to the blanket statements people make about how literally everyone on the planet (hyperbole intended) could benefit from washing their hair less.

“Several years back, everyone started talking about not washing your hair everyday and how washing your hair everyday is ‘bad,’” she said. “That’s the tricky part about beauty trends — they just aren’t made for everyone. Everyone’s hair and grooming habits are different. I guess I am uncomfortable when clients feel like they are ‘in trouble’ for washing their hair everyday. That’s my least favorite part about beauty trends.”

I was blown away — not because what she said was particularly radical, but because I hadn’t realized how narrow-minded my thinking about hair hygiene had become. I too, hated the idea of women feeling “bad” or “in trouble” for doing something that made them feel good, so why was I so quick to hair-shame?

For context, I’m one of those lucky people who can go a week, even a week and a half, without washing my hair. My hair is naturally very coarse, curly and dry, so forgoing shampoo for days on end is NBD. But until that moment in the salon, I didn’t think of myself as lucky — I thought of myself as “good.” I was a good hair-washing good girl. (Translation: I was a self-righteous hair jerk!!!!)

The next week, I polled the Man Repeller team to find out how often they wash their hair on average. To those who admitted to washing their hair daily or every other day, I posed the a follow-up question: Have you ever been shamed for washing your hair too much? 

“Yes,” said Yvonne, who washes her hair every other day. “I only started washing my hair every other day because I was shamed for washing it everyday. And that’s why my hair looks like crap every other day now. I’m probably gonna go wash it right now.”

Edith, who washes her hair daily, reported a similar experience: “It’s the same as blow-drying daily, which I also do. I’ve seen no negative side effects but am shamed regardless.”

Leandra, Leslie and Amelia, who have hair with more texture, wash every three days, and Shari and Erica, who have tighter curls, wash their hair once a week like I do. There is an obvious correlation between texture and hair-washing frequency preference, which makes a lot of sense, but what doesn’t make sense to me is why we started assigning moral value to hair-washing frequency in the first place.

The internet is a wild place, where “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” spread faster than creamy peanut butter on hot bread, especially in the beauty/health/wellness sphere. Sometimes a simple gut check is necessary. If it makes you happy, do it — and if it doesn’t, don’t. Right now, what would make me happy is some creamy peanut butter on hot bread, if that can pls be arranged.

Get more Beauty ?
  • Abby

    I have a pixie cut (which is being generous, my hair is so short) and I wash my hair every day. Partially because I like it, partially because wearing a shower cap for hair this short seems ridiculous. I image I could never wash my hair again and be fine, since it’s not like it’s in my face or anything, but I shower to be C L E A N and hair washing is part of that for me.

    I also use conditioner, which is its own completely nonsensical thing that mainly occurs because I feel like I “should”.

    • Andrea Raymer

      I am so anti-conditioner, I’ve only recently started using it again recently because of the amount of split ends I have from not cutting my hair in almost a year and dyeing it 3 times since.

      when I had a pixie cut though, I basically never washed my hair because I hated how fluffy it was when it was clean. I notice all the time when my brother’s hair does the same thing. when there isn’t much gravity pulling it down straight hair sticks straight out from your head.

  • Aimee

    THANK YOU FOR THIS. I have thick, long hair that with any amount of sweat/oil becomes flat as can be because of how heavy it is. So, on those hot-humid-make you want to strip your clothes off-summer days, when I’ve DARED to take two showers in one day and actually wash my hair both times, I have this little voice saying “you shouldn’t be doing this….” So thank you for giving me permission to tell that little voice off.

    • Harling Ross

      little voices can be so rude!

    • Your hair kind of sounds like mine! But I’ve been washing it less out of convenience – it takes forever to dry and the longer I can keep it dry the better. I don’t blowdry because it’s damaging and it would probably take me an hour to get it fully dry, so I have to make a whole night of washing and air-drying my hair.

  • Laure-Helene

    Thank you for this v important perspective! It’s amazing how much we internalize beauty advice promoted by the culture at large. I don’t think this particular trend made me change my behavior but I have definitely felt guilty in the past few years when I have needed to wash my hair 2 days in a row – which is crazy!
    yesss to letting go of unnecessary shaming.

  • Adrianna

    I have straight, very fine hair, and washed it every day my entire life. It was difficult to even consider skipping a wash because my hair looked very greasy after 24 hours. I also run or work out most days.

    But – no one talks about just rinsing your hair with water. This takes some time and you’ll still feel odd about it the first few times. But my hair does look a lot better now and like that it saves money

    • Meg S

      I rinse my hair with just water on days where I’m not going anywhere. I feel like it’s a good in between, so my hair gets a break from shampoo but isn’t completely ignored.

  • Modernniche

    I have fine, thin hair that barely has volume when squeaky clean. When its greasy, it’s basically flat against the scalp. Even dry shampoo just looks funky unless it’s styled a lot which I’m not inclined to do most mornings. Also, I think washing my hair everyday helps my adult acne situation as my hair is always in my face.

    Also, how do you work out and not wash your hair? Or maybe cool girls don’t need to workout. Lol. I’m pretty much soaked after a soul cycle session or hot yoga or an intense run on the treadmill. I have to wash my hair as I can feel the sweat dripping from my head, down my face and neck. It’s gross. And I aim to workout 3 times a week, which is not even a lot. But that’s three hair washes minimum.

    • Adrianna

      “Also, how do you work out and not wash your hair?”

      I always wondered this and learned that rinsing with water was enough. “Rinsing” sounds passive – I’m still “lathering” my hair with my hands.

    • Cristina

      I probably wash mine twice a week out of laziness and because I have a lot of fine hair that lacks all traces of volume. I sometimes rinse after a workout but I feel like that’s really pushing it. But then I feel bad if I wash so many times a week AHHH lol. I should just wash it when I wanna wash it who cares!

    • Harling Ross

      If I do a more intense workout like soul cycle I’m definitely more inclined to wash my hair after, but I prefer moderate workouts like barre classes or power walking, in which case my hair never gets super sweaty. so i guess it depends!

    • ESW

      “Or maybe cool girls don’t need to workout.” LOL yes I am sure this is the secret.

    • Lindsey Richards

      I literally asked myself this question while washing my hair this am: ” how do you not wash your hair after exercising?” I really have not seen any benefit from not washing my hair. I’ve been dealing with an every other day bad hair day for a few years. It’s time to throw in the towel, or throw it on my head anyway.

  • Great article. This rule also doesn’t apply to natural or un-colored hair as it’s more oily. Amazing what a trend can do and make us NOT do.

  • Helena

    YES. I have fine, oily hair (and oily skin, too) and I’ve been washing it every day for years. I have tried not washing it as often but to no avail; I just walked around like a greasy mess for days and felt disgusting. People often try to shame me for my hair-washing ways but hey, I’m not going to apologise for wanting to look good and feel clean! Plus my hair looks nice and healthy even if though it’s coloured, so I’m going to carry on with my everyday wash, tyvm.

    • Harling Ross

      CARRY ON

      • rull.c

        I do the job from ease of my property or home, via quick gigs which requires from you a PC and connection to the web and I am cheerful than before… After 6 months on this job opportunity and managed to get paid off in whole 36 thousand us dollars… Mainly I generate nearly 80 bucks/h and also work for 3 to 4 hours day after day.And remarkable factor about this job is usually that you can easily organize time and effort when you get the job done and for how long as you wish for and you earn a check each week…….. learn by clicking here how to do it right now

    • Söngarin

      You said it girl!

    • Meg S

      Let us unapologetically wash our fine, oily hair (and skin… ugh) every day in solidarity.

    • Mee tooo. The ONLY time I could go for a week without washing my hair was when I dyed it blonde! Otherwise she is well oily

    • Hayley

      Rejoice! The every day wash is a thing for those with fine, oily hair. I’ve started washing it every other day, and it just looks like a greaseball on the days I don’t wash.

  • Jeanie

    I find that our hair differs in texture so much, but the common advice often try to be one size fits all.

    • Harling Ross

      yes! just like we don’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all skincare regimen, we shouldn’t do so with hair either

  • Andrea Raymer

    I have very fine straight hair that gets oily easily, I definitely have the type of hair that could use a daily washing. However, I also have very dry skin that does not like daily showers. In fact, my skin feels tight and uncomfortable the more frequently I shower no matter how much I moisturize. SO I usually just put up with my greasy hair so as to avoid the physical discomfort of dry skin from the hot water of a shower.

    • Harling Ross

      being a human being is such a weird and complicated treat sometimes

  • Mo

    I believe I’m having an emotional morning due to the complexities of being a biological female because my eyeballs glossed over in a forewarning sob session when I read “Have you ever been hair shamed?” YES. I dare say, the Perp has thick and wavy hair, too.

  • Ana Tavares

    Thank you for this, Harling! I have fine, straight hair that just looks awful if I don’t wash it every other day. Bangs don’t help either, and dry shampoo is the only way I can make it look decent in between washes. However, just like my skin, I think that it is better to use delicate products that won’t dry your hair and scalp to the point it starts producing even more oil.

  • Alexis Towle

    I wash my hair everyday. And guess what?! It’s perfectly fine.

    Its blow drying and chemicals that damage your hair. I always let mine air dry and I have very few split ends.

  • Emily R

    Wash & blow everyday!

  • cecilrahn

    I’ve realized that it more comes down to who you are getting the advice from. Stylists are much more used to hair that has been treated with heat, colored etc. I never do anything but pull some oil through my ends so washing daily works for me bc i’m not doing anything past washing that could dry out my hair!

  • Rae

    The ‘no washing’ trend was at its peak around my senior year of college, when I also happened to be dying my hair red (which washes out quickly). I regularly would go 2+ weeks without washing, but the last week or so my hair was so gross I would have to put a hat over it anyways, and doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Anyways! I now wash every other day (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on life things) and my hair and scalp (and boyfriend) have never been happier!

  • Nicole

    thank you so much for validating my once-guilty hair washing habits. I have thick hair that is nipple length at this point (not quite mermaid territory) and thick, blunt bangs. I take a shower in the morning and my hair is totally fine right before I go to bed, but as a sweaty sleeper (any others?) I wake up with ridiculous bedhead that not even an industrial strength dry shampoo could fix. I enjoy showering a lot too, so the more showers the better. Not going to hide anymore!

    • Harling Ross

      nipple length is one of my favorite hair descriptions ever

    • Kiks

      I’ve been a sweaty sleeper my entire life. My poor husband.

  • Lol’ed at “self-righteous hair jerk.” I love your writing, Harling!

    • Harling Ross

      <3 <3 <3

  • YES! I hate feeling like I’m a bad person because my hair looks better when I wash it more regularly, sometimes even everyday. Do what works for you, in everything, including hair washing!

    – Natalie

  • Bo

    Wild horses will not be able stop me from washing my hair every day. I’ve tried not washing, skipping washing, I even tried that ludicrous baking soda + apple cider vinegar formula and all I got from any of them was a horrible buildup of sebum on my scalp, resulting in hideous, constant itching and m&m-sized flakes of dandruff. My hair is bleached (but with natural roots, because I just can’t hack the burning scalp sensation anymore) and I wash it gently every day with a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. However I never blow dry it – I just wrap it in a microfibre towel for 10-20 mins, then shake it out and let nature do the rest. every time I go to the hairdresser she remarks on how strong and soft it is for bleached hair, so I must be doing something right ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • Betty

    I really like the idea that it’s not one size fits all. I have fine hair with highlights and I wash either 2x/week or sometimes I wait a week. My hair is fragile so i treat it gently after the expensive highlights. But here’s another thing you’re not supposed to do that I find works. I use a heavy hair mask instead of conditioner. And I put it on dry hair for 15 min, then shampoo, and use a teeny amount of the mask to comb thru and rinse well. Helps to avoid breakage. So who cares I’m not “supposed to do it”. I’m an independent woman and that means I can do whatever the hell I want.

    • Kiks

      I have fine hair that’s bleached platinum blonde and I do the same thing with hair masks. It works amazingly well! Also sometimes I just cover my hair with coconut oil, put it in a French braid, sleep on it and then shampoo the next morning.
      Also my hair just recently became long enough to put up in a bun, and I’m loving the extra days of not having to wash and blowdry it. I’m at once-a-week shampoos for the moment.

  • Grace

    After trying a couple of these trends over the past year, I gave up and decided it’s ok to wash my hair the way I want/need to 🙂

    • Harling Ross

      VERY OK

  • Jessica

    I agree with your stylist. Those who go on about washing their hair once a week or less were blessed with a certain hair texture. I’m not one of those people. I have oily fine hair. If I don’t wash it every day, I look like an oily dirty mess. I once went 4 months “training” my hair by washing it every other day. Everyone said it would get less oily if I kept this up. It didn’t, I just looked terrible every other day for four months. I eventually gave this up and just accepted that I feel better and look better when I shampoo every day. Isn’t that the point?!?

    • Meg S

      Like I said to Helena above, let’s wash our fine, oily hair every day in solidarity.

  • Liz Warners

    I just had this same conversation with my stylist! We are also friends and go to yoga classes together. After a particularly sweaty session I asked her how to not wash my hair so much when I’m working out. She said “just wash it” and I almost fainted.

    Thanks for shedding light in this ‘shame’ trend.

    • Harling Ross

      i love that. the novelty!!

  • Ede

    I have kinky hair and I usually just rinse my hair every other day because it gets so dry. I know a lot of people with my texture who just wash their hair every week but I figured that at least rinsing my hair every other day helps with minimising tangles and frizz

  • Meg S

    I have fine, oily hair and combination skin. I can’t NOT wash it every day. I haven’t washed it yet today, and it’s already starting to feel like an oily mess. I take care of my hair. It’s clean and conditioned every 2-3 days because conditioner and fine hair don’t mix well on a daily basis. If I’m not going anywhere on a Saturday, I’ll give my hair a break and won’t wash it while I’m in the shower. I’m also a fan of air drying when I have nowhere to be, but blow drying gives my hair the extra volume it needs that doesn’t come from air drying.

    My best friend told me I washed my hair too much and she was doing the ‘no poo’ thing. I looked at her like she was crazy. Like… ‘gurl, you’ve seen my hair in the morning, why are you telling me not to wash it and put up with oil and dandruff for months while my scalp acclimates to being unwashed?’ I don’t know if she thought I could go to work like that, but the answer is no.

  • JennyWren

    The same rule applies to skincare. I need a good old fashioned foaming cleanser and a grainy scrub twice a week, to boot. When I hear coconut oil all it means is zits. I am really, really happy that people who don’t need to wash their hair everyday now have a styling language and product choice geared to them though, because it really does work better for many people.

  • Emily

    As another fine, oily-haired human — this is so liberating to read. I have been trying so hard to wash my hair less but have just ended up feeling crappy every other day because my hair looks crappy. I’m already using sulfate-free shampoo, so WHY THE HELL NOT go back to 1x/day washing?!?

  • Concerned Mum

    My hair is fine. If I do not wash it every day it is flat and dull. Also I work out every day, it would be gross not to wash my hair.

  • Maria Kapary

    I grew up in Eastern Europe where it was a set rue for decades that you must not wash your hair more often than twice a week – it was more ideology than beauty trend back in 80s and 90s. Years later, travelling a lot and ignoring that, I started washing my fine, blonde and oily hair every other day or everyday.

    And the most horrible thing is that when I as a teenage, everyone defending this stupid rule repeated “Nobody sees that your hair is oily, it’s only you, so don’t wash, you will damage it”. Working with people on everyday level I have a message for those folks – EVERYONE notices your dirty hair, in fact that’s the first thing I see when saying Hi and trust me – it’s not nice to have a well-dressed woman on a business meeting, whose hair has not been washed for a week (unless she has amazing curly hair, which is another story:))

  • mademoisielle

    YES! I have to wash my fine, oily hair every other day and usually use dry shampoo on my roots on the day I don’t wash it. I’ve tried the no poo, baking soda and vinegar thing for about 4 days, my hair looked absolutely gross and I felt disgusting – the worst thing was that when I asked for advice on a “no poo” facebook group (and told them I had to use dry shampoo because my hair was such a greasy mess), I got shot down because I “wasn’t trying hard enough” and “just have to sit through the first weeks”. I’m sorry but I have to meet people every day for my job so I really can’t “sit it out” and walk around with dirty hair all day! I find there is so much self-righteousness in the whole shampoo or no shampoo discussion – like, if you wash your hair every day you’re somehow seen as a slave to the shampoo marketing . Let people wash their hair when they want!

  • Yes! What works for one person might not work for the next. And why do people care how often other people are washing their hair? It’s no one else’s business!

  • Ladies, I have fine hair and I’ve been experimenting with shampoos that will give me big, big volume. Thought you might be interested in a read: I tried $70 shampoo — here’s what happened #beautyorbullshit

  • Emily Stark

    OK but not washing your hair isn’t really a beauty trend. It’s the way all people used to treat their hair and the way most non-westernized cultures treat their hair. If anything is a beauty trend in this sense it’s shampoo.

  • Meg Bowie

    All of these comments make me so so happy

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    You have to do what’s best for your hair. I wash mine every other day in the winter, but every day in the summer because I get sweaty and my hair gets flat. I think the worst thing is probably not getting regular trims. I tend not to follow trends.

  • Nschne

    Wash mine every day. I have short hair that gets oily and use products every day on it. Cannot imagine getting that on my pillowcase where I put my clean face! Never apologize! Great day all!

  • Boo Rackley

    I don’t care about being internet shamed or what anyone else thinks, and neither should anyone else. I have thin oily hair and I also need to wash it everyday for it to look decent. WHICH IS THE WHOLE PROBLEM. I don’t want to have to wash my dang hair every day! I have better things to do! I’m pissed off at the corporations who have potentially ruined my hair with shampoo and other hair products that I may have actually never needed.

  • SpiritAndCourage

    I know i am a bit late to the post but I just HAD to comment. I am definitely a proponent of doing what works for your body and habits… regardless of what people say you “should” be doing.
    I have been washing my hair every 2-3 days (or as long as I can go) since I was a teen. I have thick wavy hair (never worried about volume – always worried about frizz) and dry skin so there was no reason to shower EVERY day unless I wanted to have a poof of hair and scaly skin. Back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s (at least in my ‘hood) it was VERY uncool not to wash your hair every day and I definitely felt shamed for it on numerous occasions. I was so happy when this whole no wash thing became popular, navigating teenage hygiene is hard enough without having to feel like you are the “dirty” kid.

    As always, the moral of the story is: “Lets stop judging each other and just do what feels right for ourselves!”

  • Sigal Stark

    I have super thick hair (and A LOT of it) and wash my hair every two weeks! For me, the reactions are divided into either A – eww, you should wash it more often, or B – you’re so lucky! The most important thing on the topic of hair hygiene as a whole is how you feel about it. I know that after two weeks my hair is only beginning to get greasy and doesn’t smell (trust me, I’ve had people sniff), so it works for me. YAY for hair washing freedom!

  • Andrea M

    I wash my hair every 4 to 6 days, just because I hate washing it and hate blow-drying it even more (which I almost always do anyways. I guess I have to start accepting my natural hair…). Because it is relatively dry, I can do this, but I would love to be able to wash it every single day if I wanted to (by day 4, I start feeling the need to wash it but I’m lazy and tend to put it off) and having it look great. So no shame. I’m actually jealous of people who get to wash it (or have the energy to wash it) every day.

  • Kenza Wahabi

    Interesting ! I didn’t know that washing your hair everyday could be damaging, I guess that using some shampoo everyday can actually damage your hair…
    I wash my hair everyday too for the same reason of your hair stylist since I’m a teenager and my hair structure have changed a lot since then, I don’t know if it’s linked with daily wash but I would have loved to get tips about which product to use for everyday wash ?

  • Laura

    I agree! Also, I have naturally light blonde hair, so if I don’t wash it every day it gets oily and starts to look more brown

  • Sophie Kreuze

    Mind = blown! Not gonna feel ashamed anymore for washing my hair every other day. Jippie, no more sloppy bangs! 😀

  • Mar

    So good to read this! I wash my hair every other day because my roots are pretty oily but I can see that the rest of my hair doesn’t need as much cleaning. I’ve never tried dry shampoo but I think it would be a good option since my hair could go up to three days of no washing if it weren’t for my roots.

  • Manvitha

    So glad I read this! I can finally wash my hair everyday in peace!

  • Ryan Maryland

    Here in the Philippines, it is exercised your hair on a daily basis due to the weather. The hot weather day could worsen your mood if you don’t wash your hair worse result to an oily scalp. An oily scalp is no good for our weather and too much secretion of oils could irritate the skin which could lead to acne. But dry shampoo is not yet introduced to me I guess I’ll try that. I think like some peanut butter on that hot bread too.