Introduction: How to Wash Your Hair Less

Picture of How to Wash Your Hair Less

All through my childhood, I washed my hair every single day. As I got older and felt constantly pressed for time between multiple jobs and full time school, I was desperate for a little extra time. I figured cutting out the extra five minutes in the shower and the amount of time I spent combing/drying/fixing my hair would be an easy way to get ahead.

I did some reading online and found out that not everyone washes their hair every single day, and some folks even say it's harmful to do so. I can't quote any studies here because it seems most of the pieces out there are pure opinion, but washing less works for me! I've been washing 3 times a week for the last decade, and my hair looks and feels better. This year I've even stopped blowdrying my hair and I'm keeping it as simple as possible!

It can be a little tricky to transition from washing every day to every couple days, but using the tips I outline in this instructable can make the process much easier. Plus, it's totally worth it: being able to put your hair up and shower in less than five minutes if you need to is AWESOME.

Let me know in the comments if you have any great tips and tricks for transitioning to washing your hair less - I'd love to hear them. :D

Step 1: Shampoo and Condition the Smart Way

Picture of Shampoo and Condition the Smart Way

I shampoo only my roots and condition only my ends.

This is something I've been doing for about a year now and it is awesome. It saves me shampoo and conditioner and keeps my hair from going oily too fast. It might not work for everyone, but I have thin stick straight hair that goes super flat when I condition my roots. If you have dry hair, it might not hurt you to condition near the scalp!

To do this properly, I apply shampoo and just massage my scalp and roots. I never pull my hands through the ends of my hair. Then I rinse that out and grab my hair like I'm going to put it into a low ponytail and apply conditioner only to the hair in the ponytail.

When you first start shampooing less, just try to shampoo every other day. If your hair's still getting oily and gunky fast, try rinsing it with apple cider vinegar. That'll help strip styling build up and give you a clean slate. :)

Step 2: Use Dry Shampoo

Picture of Use Dry Shampoo

This is especially important right at the beginning of trying to shampoo less because it will make the process less difficult. :D

There are several types of dry shampoo, but I always use my DIY dry shampoo. It's cheap to make and lasts much longer than aerosol versions, and the smell is much better too! It's a mix of cornstarch, cocoa powder and baking soda. You can get the recipe and tutorial over how to use it here.

If you're just starting to transition to washing less, I recommend using it before you go to bed at night - it will give you a good head start to battling excess oil!

Step 3: Use a Boar Bristle Brush

Picture of Use a Boar Bristle Brush

Boar bristle brushes are wonderful! They feel amazing and they help to distribute the oils in your hair. This means the oils won't all collect at the scalp and make your hair greasy - they'll get moved all throughout your hair.

I try to brush once in the morning and at night.

Using a boar bristle brush can take a little bit of trial and error - I always brush my hair out with a regular brush first and then go through my hair from roots to ends in smaller sections with the boar bristle brush. A boar bristle brush is much more grippy than a normal brush, so you need to take care. :)

Step 4: Sleep With Your Hair Up and Keep It Up When You Can

Picture of Sleep With Your Hair Up and Keep It Up When You Can

If you have longer hair, it's great to sleep with it up! This keeps it up and away from your face and saves it from all the oils on your skin. If you have bangs, pin them back at night to keep them from getting smooshed.

Sleeping with your hair up also gives you the opportunity to try all sorts of no heat curl tutorials. BONUS!

Two major caveats here:

  • Don't pull your hair too tight when you put it up - loose is better. You'll end up with a headache and your head will feel funny all day if your bun is too tight. I normally do a loose top knot - just pull all my hair up on top of my head, spin it into a bun and secure it with a scrunchie.
  • Secure your hair with the right stuff. Small hair elastics and bands can give you serious dents in your hair. Scrunchies are the best for holding your hair up without damaging it.

You might also want to keep your hair up a ton if you're just starting to wash it less. Dirty hair is always easier to put up, and it'll keep you from touching it as much (because that will just spread the oils around everywhere and make it worse.).

If you're a hat or scarf person, that's another great alternative. :)

Step 5: Change Your Pillowcases Often

Picture of Change Your Pillowcases Often

This is something I didn't think about at first, but it really does help! This is especially important when it's warm outside, since there's a higher chance your skin will be more oily and you'll be sweating a little more while you sleep.

I just change my pillowcases whenever I notice I'm starting to wake up with oilier hair.

If you have long hair, it can also be a really good idea to invest in some satin pillowcases. They're pretty cheap and help to keep hair from drying out and getting super tangled.

Step 6: Go Easy on Styling Products (and Try a Leave in Conditioner!)

Picture of Go Easy on Styling Products (and Try a Leave in Conditioner!)

At one point, I was obsessed with trying to get my hair to do things it wasn't willing to do. It won't hold curls or even stay parted in certain spots, but I tried everything! Mousse, gel, creams, etc. It didn't work and only resulted in my hair getting bogged down with oil and loads of styling products.

Using so many styling products meant my hair would dry out at the ends and get really oily at the roots, which then meant I had to shampoo more to try to rid myself of being so gross.

I've heard of folks being able to use styling products and then rinse their hair in the shower the next day, but it didn't work out that way for me.

Right now all I use is a leave in conditioner mostly on my ends. The one downside to washing your hair less is that the ends can get a little dry. I highly recommend NEXXUS Headress Leave In Conditioner - a little goes a long way and it doesn't make my hair greasy. :D


Hassocker (author)2017-11-20

This may be a bit radical for most but I only shampoo my hair every 3 months or so! I should probably tell you I am a man though). I do rinse my hair well whenever I have a shower and this seems to be enough. A lady friend recommended this a couple of years ago and she checked out my hair regularly after that and figured it smelt clean and was not greasy. I feel that natural (human) oil in our hair is, well, natural! I do wash my hair if I have worked in a dirty environment but that is all. Try it, you will be surprised.

natalieb63 (author)2017-01-12

yesss my hair looks non greasy! thanks

blackpool1234 (author)2016-10-18

thank youxxxxxx

Simran Sharma (author)2016-07-27


Simran Sharma (author)2016-07-27

I'm was doing it like this when I was have a long hair. But now I have a small pixie cut.:)

satoko68 (author)2015-07-22

I wash my hair no more than twice a week now bc my hair is super dry, despite the fact that my skin is oily. I also very rarely blow dry. Maybe once every couple of months.

Something I try to do as often as possible: apply a warm oil mix I formulated to my hair a couple of hours, minimum, before washing. Sometimes I leave it in overnight. Makes a huge difference.

Avoiding products with sulfates is also at the top of my list. They're murder on the hair & scalp.

I also have long hair & got into the habit of twisting it into a bun, then fastening it with a hair screw, before going to bed. It keeps my dry hair looking smooth much longer & preserves the freshly washed smell of my hair for many days. I stopped using ties or scrunchies bc they were pulling out bits of my hair ends that tangled onto the scrunchies. Using the screws immediately after washing/blowdrying/applying oil to warm hair also means my hair is nice & wavy the next day without having to use styling products or heat tools.

Haven't yet had the need of dry shampoo but will definitely be making my own if & when necessary. I think I'd try tapioca starch though, as I understand that corn starch can facilitate the growth of bacteria/yeast due to the natural sugars in it. Which is why I completely avoid it in cosmetics. Could be wrong, but don't care for the stuff anyways :-) Not 100% sure about tapioca starch either, however. Something to research!

oliviamagnolia (author)2015-04-19

I don't wash my hair more than 4 times per week. Stripping your hair of its natural oils really damages it, and you only make it worse when you pile a ton of products on it day after day. Great tutorial! It's very detailed and clear :)

gsmith58 (author)2014-08-31

Please please please add this to your instructable: Sulfate-free and silicone-free shampoos and conditioners! Our scalps get all oily because sulfates strip away the natural healthy layer of protective sebum on our scalp and roots, so our scalps are like "wtf?" and produce more. Just cutting out sulfates would be fine if silicones weren't in most of our conditioners - silicones are wax-like chemicals that add artificial "glossiness", and they are not water-soluble, requiring surfactant chemicals (i.e. sulfates) to get them off of your hair again, or else your hair will get gummy.

Cut out all the sulfates and silicones and be amazed at how much longer it takes for your scalp to get oily. Seriously, it's awesome!

(Plus, since sulfates are quite drying, my curly-wavy hair looks so much better now that I'm not using them. I used to straighten my hair every other day because it was sooooo frizzy if I didn't, but now, I love my waves and curls! And I live in humid Houston! Sorry the picture is so goofy, haha.)

jsenior7 (author)gsmith582015-03-26

This is a really old comment, but what shampoo do you use?

chinkajack1 (author)gsmith582014-08-31

I started to react to commercial shampoos & conditioners, then I found using hand soap instead of shampoo, and white vinegar instead of conditioner works really well. Vinegar will also remove any product that's been applied to hair. Vinegar will sting if you have any cuts or scratches. Does not need to be left on hair, just apply it then rinse.
Scalp (and therefore our hair) is made oily simply by massaging it. Before stepping out of shower, rinse head in cold water so close hair follicles to reduce oiliness. This is also good for facial skin so pores are closed before we step back out into the grimy world again.

Boygasmo (author)2014-08-28

I wash my hair every other day because of the chemicals in shampoos strip away the natural oils. There are natural alternatives for shampoos but they are not cheap! Most people also dry their hair rigorously with towel which also can damage hair. Pat with towel and let air dry, do not comb them when still wet, as it cause split ends! Use wide tooth comb or your fingers to untangle hair!

For most men, they do not realize that most of the baldness is due to improper shampooing. Most people tend to use their fingernails when shampooing! That is a bad thing to do. Repeat pulling can cause rapid balding and hair thinning! Most hair salons shampoo people's hair by their fingertips! Fingertips is better than pulling hair out eh?

neffk (author)Boygasmo2014-09-04

I am not aware of any evidence that "improper shampooing" or vigerous towel usage can cause baldness.

thundrepance (author)neffk2014-09-11

you seem bent on criticizing boygasmo & getting the last word in. do you do this to your wife, as well?

fyi, you misspelled "vigorous".

Boygasmo (author)neffk2014-09-04

People tend to shampoo with their fingernails not their finger tips. The finger nails can grab and pull hair and remove the roots from the scalp. Repeat pulling of these roots can cause hair thinning and baldness.

Vigorous toweling put stress on the hair, creating some damages.

neffk (author)Boygasmo2014-09-05

I'm not sure you're right about people mainly use their fingernails. You say it like it's a fact, which seems convincing, you don't have links to any evidence. You may be an ideal human being, a fount of knowledge, a keen witness but no one is so amazing that the internet will take him at his word. If you're so right, marshal some evidence, convince us.

Whether or not damage is caused by fingernails is also not clear. I did a quick search of the scientific literature and didn't find anything about this specific cause.

You may be right but you need to make measurements/observations and publish them in a format where the results and your opinion are separate. Then it's science. Of course, people will still disagree but they will be fewer in number

Well, you have the internet. Here's an informative article for those who are curious about hair loss.

Boygasmo (author)neffk2014-09-05

Please note that your post also confirms my original post. It states on that website that "Scarring alopecias are typically caused by inflammation that results in destruction of the hair follicle leading to irreversible hair loss."

Baldness is caused by improper hair care and causes hair loss. Repeat stress on the scalp, incorrect shampooing, and toweling can stress your scalp. While some of that article contains some truth, that some can be hereditary. But majority of the causes are stress, health issues, repeat pulling is the main culprit of hair loss.

My friends whom are also beauticians, also confirms that they use their finger tips, not their finger nails. They say its because it causes stress on the scalp, increases dandruff, and hair pulling.

And in my experience, being a male myself, I noticed my hair loss due to incorrect shampooing and caused thinning. I since used my finger tips, the majority of it grew back, in exception to the left temple. I wish I had known so I could have prevented it. Prolonged incorrect shampooing does cause hair loss, if you use your fingernails!

neffk (author)Boygasmo2014-09-05

Yes, but read more about scarring alopecias. There is a list of causes and shampooing seems not to be there. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. What I noticed was that most of the items were diseases. There's no mention of mechanical type damage. It could be that the article is written from a perspective that does not include the type of stress.

BTW, what about people who pluck their various hairs? According to my wife, this is a very temporary solution. Wouldn't fingernail-scratching and vigerous toweling of the scalp fall into the same category?

I suppose there is a difference between what's true for the population and what's true for individuals. And it's also true that some conditions are not well studied by medical folks. So I'm not arguing that it didn't work for you. I just doubt that it's true in general.

Anyhow, it's an interesting discussion. Until now, I certainly had never thought so much about how hair responds to mechanical stresses. But I don't want to be an irritation or a distraction from this instructable so I think I'll move on. I think we've both had our say and maybe it's best to leave it at that. Fair enough?

fixfireleo (author)Boygasmo2014-08-31

OMG...i have a spot just behind my hairline that starts on the left and goes slightly back and to the right that is thinning. it's a strange spot and is about an inch wide and 3-4 inches long. do you think if i shampoo differently it will grow back or is the damage permanent? it's been this way for about a year.

Boygasmo (author)fixfireleo2014-08-31

No the damage is done, all you can do is follow the instruction by not shampooing with your fingernails. You can reduce farther hair loss and save what you have.

The only option is trying Rogaine, or hair transplant.

neffk (author)Boygasmo2014-09-05

No, rogaine doesn't work for this type of baldness.

fixfireleo (author)Boygasmo2014-08-31

that wasnt the answer i was looking for. :( luckily, i can cover it up easily since it isnt too bad yet. doesnt rogaine only regrow baby fine hairs? and they fall out as soon as you stop using it?

neffk (author)fixfireleo2014-09-04

Rogaine works for certain causes of baldness.

Boygasmo (author)fixfireleo2014-08-31

I answered, shampooing differently won't make a difference either way. After a year of noticing progressive hair loss, means it won't grow back. Its a total loss. There's no way you can regrow unless you get hair transplant or use Rogaine.

As for Rogaine, I have no ideal. But half of the men reports that it helps regrow hair-loss and thinning. So you could give a shot and see.

fixfireleo (author)Boygasmo2014-08-31

i know you answered. thank you. i was just hoping you would tell me "oh no, stop doing it and it will all grow back!" but wishing has never gotten me the winning lottery numbers either so i guess i should have known better. ;-) thanks anyway hon!

My dad had a spot as big as half dollar behind one ear.... no Dr could help him. His barber suggested putting White Iodine on it at least 1/day. After about 3 weeks hair began filling in completely. It also worked for a friend. Might help you out....and not pricey.... good luck!!

hey, thanks for the advice. i'll look into it!

Mama83 (author)fixfireleo2014-08-31

I'm a Master Cosmetologist. It depends entirely on what is causing the thinning. If it is physical damage, i.e., as in you are tearing your hair out with vigorous brushing or the like, yes, it can & probably will grow back. If it is hormonal, it may if that is out of ordinary. If it is male pattern baldness, there is some hope with products such as Rogaine, which do work and work differently on each individual. Unless you know the cause of your thinning, it is hard to predict the outcome. But it certainly never hurts to try a different method or product.

fixfireleo (author)Mama832014-09-01

thanks for the info. who would i see to find out about that? is there a hair doctor? or i guess that would just be a dermatologist? i would think it was hereditary since my dad and uncle were bald but mines in a weird spot, just behind the hairline about an inch or so but not AT the hairline.

Mama83 (author)fixfireleo2014-09-01

I would start with your doctor who may refer you, probably to a dermatologist. And that really isn't a weird spot, that's pretty common area for alopecia or male pattern baldness. If your scalp is shiny it may be simply a build up which can be cleared with special shampoo. But that is a prescribed article, here at least. Without seeing it, I wonder if it may be a testosterone build up, but I can't say, even if I saw it, legally I cannot say, but I can say the symptoms suggest it and I would tell you to see your doctor.

fixfireleo (author)Mama832014-09-01

ok great. i pray it isnt alopecia but it is possible it could be testosterone build up since, until just recently, i was taking DHEA which is suppose to be a testosterone precursor. i dont know that it really worked since i didnt lose any weight or have "increased performance" if ya know what i mean. (my pic is not exactly current if you are thinking i'm too young for these issues, but since no one is going to meet me on here, i figure why not use one from when i looked good. lol) i appreciate your info. i will definetly follow up on it! have a good one.

ElectroFrank (author)2014-09-07

Here in the UK a certain brand of dandruff shampoo has a reputation (i.e. urban legend) for causing baldness.

My personal suspicion is that regularly slapping a big glob of any (particularly a strong) shampoo in the middle of the scalp and rubbing it in, gradually chemically destroys the hair roots, which could be the reason for many men's bald patches. So my theory is that by well diluting shampoo before use, much baldness would be averted.

dezine (author)2014-09-02

I travelled around Africa for two years and during that time only managed to wash my hair once a week. After a couple of months my hair started to be softer and I didn't suffer from any split ends whatsoever. 20 years later I only wash twice a week and still haven't seen a split end, have dry scalp or even have to use lots of conditioner. I definitely think washing less is better - you just have to endure the process of getting your hair used to being washed less.

Catley (author)2014-08-31

When my hair was very short, I washed it every 4 days, but then I grew it out so I could have a pony tail (still growing--the longer the better, up to a certain point), and I switched to washing it every week. I never use conditioner, and every so often I use some white vinegar in warm water as a final rinse. I seem to get a little more body that way.

sings2high (author)2014-08-31

Actually, one alternative to shampoo is relatively inexpensive. I wash my hair every 2-3 days. Most of the time, I wash with a paste made of baking soda and water, massaged in with fingertips only. Then I (very important step) rinse thoroughly with just water, then a rinse of warm water with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, wait a few minutes, then rinse that out thoroughly. I dry my hair gently and use a small amount of leave-in conditioner.

Occasionally, I get really messy in the garden (like yesterday when I found a tomato with my new weed-whacker) and need a deeper clean. Then I use a small amount of liquid castile soap mixed into the baking soda.

My hair and scalp have adjusted to the new routine and I find that whenever I try to go back to using a regular shampoo, my scalp starts to itch like crazy. So I don't even try it anymore (which saves a lot of money!) and my hair feels and smells clean, fresh but not perfumed. It's also very soft which is surprising in an area with hard water and I think I can thank the apple cider vinegar for that.

gsmith58 (author)2014-08-31

Please don't use baking soda on your hair. After a while, the extreme change in pH between the baking soda and vinegar will cause a lot of damage. You might see pictures of people's "new growth" after using baking soda... we've started realizing that it's actually breakage. :(

vickykoen (author)gsmith582014-08-31

Oh No! Thank you for telling me this! AWW ..this was my new favorite way to wash my hair. I thought it was good. :( I'm very disappointed but glad to know it. Thank you. I will delete my comment above, or edit it or something.

wendyj2 (author)2014-08-31

As you get older your hair gets drier and you don't need to wash your hair so much unless you happen to live in a particularly dirty city. I only wash mine twice a week now, but I do live in the countryside, where there is not so much dust and fumes. I expect it also depends on the texture of your hair. My fine hair tends to get dragged down by natural oil after 3 or 4 days, but more robust hair can go longer without washing and still look good.

Pinkly (author)2014-08-31

I'm curious about what fixfireleo asked. Are you rinsing your hair in the shower? I know there've been times when I've had to go several days without washing my hair and there is *no* regulation of the oils. It just looks greasier/dirtier with each day that goes by. And just rinsing my hair would not cut it. Styling it afterward would come out the same as overconditioned hair--just looks bad. And when the weather is warm, when you sweat, your hair is getting sweaty, too. Covering up with scented oils can only go so far.

MonkiMan (author)2014-08-31

I see you have dark hair but what about when you have lighter hair, I have dirty blond hair and I'm worried that the coco powder in your dry shampoo would look weird in my hair and show up as a brown dandruff.

Thanks for the help

1kathyr (author)MonkiMan2014-08-31

Just leave out the cocoa powder. That is only to keep darker hair from getting white streaks or spots from the other ingredients.

kbc2 (author)2014-08-27

any suggestions for us bald guys???? Just kidding! I shampoo my goatee about the same frequency ( unless dinner or work was messy) and use leave in conditioner 2 times a week. i get comments on how soft and neat my goattee is vs the wirey scraggly look.

bonjobish (author)kbc22014-08-31

male pattern baldness and other balding problems are dealt with( and there looks some great cures) on,So many encouraging experiences there for balding and reversing grey hair ! Wishing you every success !

doodlecraft (author)kbc22014-08-28

Awesome! I get so sick of poorly cared for or not cared for facial hair! :)

fixfireleo (author)2014-08-31

i hope you at least rinse it off in the shower. i'm sorry, not to be mean but NEVER washing ANY part of your body is pretty gross.

fixfireleo (author)2014-08-31

i've always heard it dries the hair's natural oils when washing the hair and is damaging to do it everyday. i rinse my hair everyday in the shower with warm water but only wash it when i feel like it needs it. (every 3-7 days usually). stylists i know also say "dirty" hair styles easier.

TheOatmeal (author)2014-08-30

Lol that kind of thing happens to my hair a lot i feel your pain jessyratfink it wont stay in curls and it wont get tamed

teao (author)2014-08-29

You should really look into natural shampoos/conditioners.
Most branded types have plastics and all kinda of rubbish in them.

Abigail02 (author)2014-08-29

Thank you so much for this!! I will certainly be following your advice! Thanks again!

kbc2 (author)2014-08-27

ooopps forgot to mention, i keep my goattee 4 to 6 inches long.

tinaciousz (author)kbc22014-08-28

Wowza! Perhaps an Instructable on goatee maintenance is in order :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
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