The noo-poo movement revolves around the idea that washing with typical shampoo formulas strips your scalp of natural oils. I don’t know about you, but my scalp is a bit too good at producing oils, so when I decide to skip washing my hair, it has little to do with "preserving natural oils" and more to do with "not feeling like it" and "valuing sleep."
Plus, I kind of like the way my hair looks when it hasn’t been washed for a day (except when my roots are too greasy, because that grosses me out).
Anyway, the whole why-I-don’t-wash-my-hair thing got me thinking: Are there other advantages to having occasionally dirty hair? Possibly styling advantages?
I reached out to some experts for advice (and to also make myself feel better for not washing my hair last night).
Dirty hair is more heating-tool-friendly, so styles last longer
Although preserving natural oils isn’t on the top of my agenda, the presence of natural oils does help with the heat styling.
“One of the benefits of styling unwashed hair is how well hair works with styling tools. When hair is freshly washed, it can be more difficult to style because all of the natural oils have been stripped out of hair,” says Remington celebrity stylist, Richard Marin. “Second-day hair has natural oil built up, so when styling with an iron or curling wand, you will notice that the style lasts longer and in most cases is much easier to style and has more shine.”
I’ve used a curling iron on dirty hair, and I can confirm this. It went surprisingly well.
Unwashed hair will give you better updos
I live in buns these days, and my flyaways stay stuck to my head better, and my bun seems less slippery to do when I’m working with not-so-clean hair.
To find out why, I reached out to Danny Jelaca, celebrity hairstylist. Here’s what he had to say: “Working with unwashed hair can be great for updos. When hair is unwashed, it is pliable and easy to manage, and there are never flyaways, so you guarantee a smooth finish and fullness.”
Less frizz = more doable, longer-lasting sleek looks
I emailed Stylist Elana Cohen at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa, who told me that the extra natural moisture and oil from unwashed hair can really help in getting a sleek look. (Since that slickness is from your scalp, you may even have to use less product.) “In addition, whatever style you decide to do will last much longer and hold better due to the buildup of product and oil,” she says.
The bohemian or beachy look is easier to achieve
My pin-straight hair has a bit of an edge—AKA texture—when I don’t wash, which I absolutely love since I wish I had naturally wavy hair. It turns out, if I went the extra step to get a boho look a la 2000s Nicole Richie, it would work out really well.
“Beachy hair or bed head styles are always best on unwashed hair. It gives the hair texture,” says Rita Hazan Salon stylist Jennifer Matos.
Moreover, if you use a curling iron to get waves, unwashed hair can loosen up the curls in the best way possible.
“Having some of your natural oils in the hair helps keeps a wave soft instead of too formal,” says Erica Engstrom, another stylist at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa.
Unwashed hair has more volume
Story: My now-married friend requested a blowout on the day of her wedding, and her hairstylist refused, saying that the only way she would get volume is if she washed her hair the night before. She was shocked, but it totally makes sense.
In my experience, my hair is always much bigger when I haven’t washed it for a day, particularly when I’ve slept on unwashed hair. Whenever I wash my hair and air-dry it, it usually looks flat.
- How often do you wash your hair?
- Do you ever purposely skip washing your hair for styling reasons?