13 Weird Things That Happen When You Don’t Wash Your Hair For Two Days, Because It's More Impactful Than You Think
When it comes to not washing your hair, there's pretty much an endless list of good and bad things that can happen. On the positive side, shampooing less often means moisturized strands, and way more time in the morning. But if you don't wash your hair — even for just a day or two — all sorts of things can happen. I'm talking smelly smells and greasiness galore, as well as a slew of other odd side effects.
Of course, what happens when you go without shampoo is totally dependent on your hair type. As celebrity hair stylist Scott Yance tells Bustle, everyone's texture is unique and therefore every type of hair will require different care. If you aren't sure what's best for you, "consult your stylist about how often you should be washing your hair to maximize its health, volume, and shine," he says.
The general consensus, however, is that shampooing every day isn't a great idea. And yet, if you're prone to oiliness, the thought of not shampooing for just day can send shivers down your spine. Ever wondered how bad (or good) dirtier hair can get? Then read on for some interesting things that can happen when (and if) you decide to skip the shampoo.
1. Your Hair Can Look Thinner
For some lucky folks, going a day or two without shampoo results in gloriously thick and voluminous hair. But for others — especially those with fine hair — even just a touch of excess oil can have quite the opposite effect.
And that's because, when fine or thin hair goes unwashed, it can start to stick together and look even finer, Richard Mannah, stylist and international artistic director for label.m USA, tells Bustle.
You can always resolve the issue in between real shampoos with a spray of dry shampoo, which can help soak up excess oil while also adding some volume to your hair. Or, you could simply style it differently. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
2. Ingrown Hairs Can Crop Up
You may have experienced ingrown hairs on your bikini line, or in your armpits, if you shave those areas. But did you know you can get them on your scalp, too?
Instead of being caused by shaving, these ingrown hairs are all thanks to oily hair and leftover product. "The longer you go between washes, the more dirt and oils will build up on your scalp, which can ... cause ingrown hairs (dry shampoo can also be a culprit!)," Yance says. And that can be pretty surprising, if you aren't expecting it.
3. You May Turn Into A Dust Magnet
If your hair has been looking a bit fuzzy as of late, it could be that your unwashed strands are attracting dust. Even if it looks like dandruff, those white flecks are actually debris from things like your hat or pillow, Mannah says. If this starts happening on the regular, it may be time to dip into the shower.
It's also possible to just brush the lint away with your comb, or to accept it as a side effect of day-two hair. Because a little fuzz never hurt anybody.
4. Hair Dye Can Slide Right Off
If it's been a second since you washed your hair, keep in mind dirty strands can affect your dye job. "When coloring with demi-permanent color, hair needs to be clean and toweled-dried, per manufacturer directions," Jeff Stumps, salon owner of Artkiteks, tells Bustle. "Oily hair won’t allow the color to penetrate through the build-up evenly."
So give your hair a wash before dyeing it, or ask your stylist for tips. They can point you in the right direction in terms of how and when to dye your hair, as well as what might be best for your hair type.
5. Things Can Get A Bit Smelly
Go a day or two without a good shampoo and you may notice your hair starts to smell a bit... off. "It's a musty and oily smell, which isn't pleasant at all," Mannah says. And it might be something that starts to bother you, especially if you aren't used to going a few days between shampoos.
Of course, this odor, should you notice it, is not the end of the world and certainly doesn't mean you have to rush to the shower. But if the smells starts to get to you, a quick spray of dry shampoo should absorb any extra oil, while also freshening up your scalp.
6. Your Nail Polish Will Last For Days
While it seems completely unrelated, washing your hair can strip off your nail polish faster, Thumbtack event hair and makeup pro Chantelle Hartshorne, tells Bustle. "I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished up in the shower only to find those little chips missing from the tips of my nails," she says.
So it stands to reason that you might notice that your nail polish lasts longer if you go a few days between shampoos. It's just a small, added benefit to thole don't-wash-your-hair-every-day argument, that may be worth considering.
7. Frizziness Will Be A Thing Of The Past
If you can go two days without washing your hair, you may be able to reach that perfect level of oiliness for frizz-free hair. As George Gonzalez, owner of George the salon Chicago, tells Bustle, "This is very hard for most people, but try to rinse your second day and only condition." It may seem counterintuitive — especially if your dirty hair seems to get frizzy. But for many people, this trick really does work.
Of course, there are lots of other ways to deal with frizziness, and it can all depend on your hair type. So if this is a feature of your hair that bothers you, don't hesitate to ask a stylist for their advice. You may be able to make a few changes to your daily routine, and get your hair to look the way you want it to look.
8. Highlighted Hair Can Be Magically Rehydrated
Yes, greasy hair can make dyeing your strands difficult. But there's also evidence that oily hair can be good for dyed hair. (Yay for another benefit.)
"My own hair can hit a dry spell after highlights, so I'll let it get all oiled up from my own oils — which is like a natural conditioning treatment," NYC-based master hairstylist Nicole Descoteaux, tells Bustle. But your natural oils can condition your hair, even if it isn't dyed or highlighted. So if that's something your hair needs, washing it every other day can be a big help.
9. Dandruff Can Develop
Since dandruff can be due to a dry scalp, it may not make sense that oily hair can lead to flakiness. And yet, going a few days without shampooing can make this condition worse.
And, as Yance says, dandruff can also crop up if you go a few days without conditioner. Hopping in the shower, and giving your strands a good dose of moisture, can help clear up the problem.
It may be necessary, though, to see a dermatologist if you can't get your dandruff to go away. Sometimes there's an underlying condition causing dandruff that may need to be treated.
10. You May Start Collecting Scents
In the same way oily hair can attract dust, it can also attract various scents from the air. "So if you’ve been out at a bar or to the gym recently, your hair is going to let everyone know," Hartshorne says.
Think about all the times you've come home from work, and could still smell the odors of the day in your strands. Or if you've ever gone out for dinner and left with the scents of pizza or pasta wafting from your hair. It's definitely not a problem, but can be a funny side effect of not washing your hair.
If you're concerned about odors, though, you can freshen your hair up with dry shampoos or leave-in conditioners, or pull it back so it isn't hanging in your face and reminding you what you had for lunch.
11. Your Hair Can Start To Fall Out
While your hair isn't likely to fall out in clumps, if you overuse products and then don't wash them away, it can lead to an unhealthy buildup on your scalp. And "a congested scalp will ... bring on loss of hair," NYC-based stylist Jenna Mast, tells Bustle. Making sure to cleanse regularly can help prevent this from happening, especially if you use lots of product to style your hair.
Remember, though, that it is natural to lose up to 100 hairs per day. If your hair is actually thinning, it might seem more noticeable, or you may notice more hair in your brush. If you're concerned, let a dermatologist know so they can figure out what's wrong.
12. Things Can Get Downright Itchy
If you aren't used to going a few days sans shampoo, you might notice a tingling itchiness creeping its way across your scalp. As stylist Jen Bennett tells Bustle, this happens because dirtier hair takes some getting used to.
Thanks to the oils, it can change your texture and the overall feel of your hair, which will feel differently from freshly cleaned hair. If you feel itchy, though, wait a few days and you should be able adjust to the change.
13. You Might Just Like It
If you're already in the know about not washing your hair, then this one won't seem weird to you. But for folks who have never gone a day without shampoo, the idea that unwashed hair can actually look and feel better can be quite surprising.
As senior stylist Jill Engelsen tells Bustle, "It's strange that I used to think my hair had to be clean to look good when today I literally hate my hair clean because it is always overly silky and flat." Have you ever given it a try? If not, then it may be time. But remember, how often you wash (or don't wash) your hair is completely up to you and can depend a lot on your texture.
If you want to rock second (third, fourth, or fifth day) day hair, then go for it. But if any of the above happens to your hair, and it doesn't feel right, go ahead and shampoo as often as you please.
This post was originally published on 11/29/2016. It was updated on 6/5/2019.