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Do I Really Need To Wash My Hair Every Day?

By Amalah


I am a fairly new mom (daughter is 8 months old) and I have realized that I am routinely washing my hair about 2 to 3 times a week. Is this bad? My hair seems fairly dry and doesn’t get all greasy and gross. Is it better for my hair to wash it more, or can I just continue my slacker ways? It sure makes the week more manageable not to wash it every day.


Dude, color me nothing but pea-green jealous over here. That is a perfectly acceptable hair care routine. It is NOT better for your hair to be shampooed any more often than is completely necessary — and for women with very dry hair or very curly hair (or a combination of both), that can mean every other day or even just once or twice a week. Or hell, even less, if your hair isn’t getting oily or smelly or you don’t use hair products regularly. (Hair products usually contain alcohol or other harsh stuff that should be washed out on a fairly regular basis. But shampoo can often contain crap ingredients as well, which is why overwashing can actually throw your hair out of whack too.)

I have very fine hair and a very oily scalp. I’ve TRIED washing my hair less, because everyone will tell you that shampooing your hair too often will cause your scalp to overcompensate with MORE oil. I found this to be true when I used actual “oil control” shampoos — I’d wash in the morning and be a greasy stringy mess by lunchtime. But even when using the gentlest, highest-quality shampoo, I still need to wash my hair every day. My scalp just gets busy at night with the oil, or maybe I just sweat a lot or something. (Ha! And you were worried that YOU were the gross one here.)

But something miraculous happened when I was pregnant. For a few months, my hair and scalp trended towards “dry” and I did not have to wash my hair every day. I went every other day, sometimes every two days. I used dry shampoos (by Ojon or Oscar Blandi) in between to freshen things up and delay a washing even longer. It was fantastic. My mornings were a breeze and I honestly thought my hair looked better and better the longer I waited in between shampooings.

As a mom, especially, with SO MANY OTHER THINGS to worry about and juggle in the morning, I would like to shout from the rooftops to anyone out there who is needlessly shampooing every day: STOP. SAVE YOURSELF. IT IS NOT GROSS. I mean, I did SHOWER every day, and wash my BODY, but hair is not skin. It’s not even technically alive. And it takes waaaay longer than a day or two to actually develop an odor under normal circumstances. (“Normal” meaning you don’t smoke or live with a smoker, or comb it with a pork chop, or something.) And if your hair is dry and easily damaged, shampooing more often is totally counterintuitive. (There’s a reason my guiding hair principle and advice has always been to only shampoo your roots and condition your ends.)

Sadly, my hair went back to its old high-maintenance tricks after a couple months of glorious neglect and once again I have to wash it every day if I hope to avoid the oil slick. It laughs in the face of the dry shampoos and is generally just kind of sucking right now, much like it did for the first few postpartum months after my first pregnancy. My hormones manifest themselves in my hair, who knew?

You may also enjoy:
Dry Shampoos by guest writer, Whoorl


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • michal

    January 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Oh, I am green with envy!! I have really thin and oily hair and washing everyday is a must!! If not, I end up with a grease ball on top of my head. Stayed that way the entire time I was pregnant too. A miraculous thing did happen. I got curls and body. Never had it before. My daughter was born on Nov. 1st and I am still waiting to see if it will go away. So far, so good. My sister though has dry curly hair and washes hers once a week…I hate her! LOL!! Im a firm believer that whatever works best for your hair should be done.

  • Adrienne

    January 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I have fairly dry hair and I’ve only washed it every other day since I was a teenager. I also found that my hair changed with pregnancy: I went from having pin-straight hair pre-pregnancy to a curly sort of mess after. It’s been almost 8 years since my second child was born, and the curly is just now starting to fade (although it’s still way curlier than I’d like it).

  • Critty

    January 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Since growing my hair longer I can go two and sometimes even 3 days (with the help of some Oscar Blandi on day 3) and it is wonderful. I also find the spray in shampoos give my fine hair awesome body. I am going to be buying them by the caseload when our baby comes in May! 🙂

  • Meghan

    January 5, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    How exactly do you shower and not wash your hair? Do you use a shower cap? Pull your hair into a ponytail and hope you don’t automatically put your head back under the running water? This is the part that I’ve never been able to figure out.

  • Dana

    January 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Ok…this is glorious news! Who knew? But here is the question…do I still get my hair wet in the shower or is it time to bust out the shower cap?
    And I can’t even believe that at 27 this would be a question I was asking…

  • allyson

    January 5, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I wash my hair maybe twice a week, I have thick, wavy hair that’s very fine, and on the dry side. Never needed to wash it more than that. I pull it back in the shower, and wet my bangs so I can re-dry them each morning (I have Bettie Page bangs), for I look like a rooster each morning when I awaken. Otherwise, that’s it.
    My hair gets a little damp, but I don’t usually have to re-dry the whole thing.

  • Jenno

    January 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    You are not alone in washing daily. I’ve had to wash my three strands of incredibly fine blonde hair every day since I hit puberty at age 11. I also have to use a good shampoo, because if I use a junky one (I’m looking at you tresemme) in the morning I have to wash it again at night or look like the Fonz that evening.

  • Darcey

    January 5, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Dana & Meghan –
    I’m a believer of the dry shampoos, and most days I do the shower body but not hair method. I don’t bother with a shower cap, but instead just use a headband to pull my bangs off my face and secure the rest into a rough bun and hold with one of those claw-clips to keep the hair off my back.
    A few bits and pieces may get damp, but after I spray in the dry shampoo, I hit it with a blast of hot air at the roots with my blowdryer and am good to go.

  • jodifur

    January 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    cake makes a product I really like, like baby powder, but it’s tinted-

  • Amy

    January 5, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    About not getting your hair wet: I either use a shower cap or wrap a towel around my head and secure it with a clip so it doesn’t unwrap. Usually if I just put my hair up I will forget myself and back into the water. I usually wash my hair every three days, but when I was using Accutane I sometimes went and entire week without shampooing (though I would usually condition every few days).

  • Ashlea

    January 5, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    My hair is very curly and extramly thick. My hairdresser hates cutting my hair becuase his arms get sore!
    I only wash my hair once or twice a week, but because of the curl I do need to wet it every morning. Otherwise it looks like a birds nest.
    As my commute is an hour and a half, I just let them dry naturally while i am on the train.

  • angela

    January 6, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Depending on your skin type, showering every day may be too much for your skin as well. My skin does much better if I shower every other day or every 3rd day. I know it sounds gross to some but it really saves a lot of time and it keeps by skin softer. My hair is the same – it doesn’t have enough body in it if I wash it every day because I don’t put much in it. Do what makes sense to you.

  • Adrienne

    January 6, 2009 at 7:42 am

    I still get my hair wet every day when I shower. Like Ashlea, because of the curls, I have to wet it down daily or else it’s a nightmare. Plus I can’t stand being in the shower and not being able to stick my head under the water. 🙂 I also usually condition it every day, even if I don’t wash it, because it makes it so much easier to manage.

  • TasterSpoon

    January 6, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I read Brooke Shields say her hair looks best the fifth day (!) after washing.

  • Amalah

    January 7, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Re: getting hair wet or not in the shower. I didn’t, because my hair is fine and straight, and just getting it wet causing tangles and damage when I need to comb it out and dry it. No shower cap though — like others have mentioned I would pile it up in a clip and use a headband. If some of my roots got wet (like when I was washing my face) it was a good thing — a quick blast with the dryer would help add a little volume back in. (Though the dry sprays help with that too.)

  • geep

    January 7, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Hell, I don’t shower every day either. If I did my skin would dry out and flake away.

  • Darcey

    January 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    For those of you who are saying that showering too often is drying your skin out, try lowering your water temperature. Too hot water, no matter how awesome it feels when its snowing and freezing cold outside, is generally the culprit – it sucks the moisture out of your skin.
    Lowering the water temp is great for post-workout showers to bring your body temp down, but also a cool blast at the end of the shower (as horrendous as that thought it), can actually help a good bit.
    When I was training for my marathon, I had to take 15-20 minute ice baths (yes, ICE BATHS) to bring the inflammation down on my muscles/joints after running for 2+ hours. My skin from my waist down was awesomely smooth, whereas from waist up (which wasn’t submerged in cold water, but just hte regular shower), felt dry and scratchy.

  • Martha

    January 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve become a big fan of shampoo free ( in the last few months that I’ve been using it. I wash my hair every two or three days with 1 T of baking soda in a cup of hot water and every other time I use a rinse of 1 T of apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water. I first read about it on…like she says, it may seem like a hippy dippy scheme but I really like it! My hair was quite greasy before and I really should have washed it every day (although I usually didn’t). Shampoo free has worked really well for me and I thnk it probably would for other people who have greasy hair too. My goal is always to shower less, not more 🙂

  • Meri

    January 7, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Amalah, have you tried using conditioner-only on some days? You do have to do it on the roots, though. My hair isn’t nearly as frizzy now that I do this.

  • Isabel

    January 12, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    So I finally got that dry shampoo from Santa this year. I love it…but it’s so much money that I don’t dare use it everyday. So…I’ll use baby powder (which, so whatever reason, seems to be okay on my dark hair) the first non wash day and the Ojon on the second non wash day. I wish I could go longer between, but I really shouldn’t even be going as long as I do.
    Oh yeah, and I got a super cute shower cap from Sephora and it makes showering so retro and fun.

  • Jessica

    January 14, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    How do you not shower if you workout? I mean, I am a greasy, sweaty mess (HAWT) after I run, and I can’t NOT wash my hair after that. Even if all I am doing is crawling into bed, and I’ll have to rewash it in the morning, I still have to get it clean from all the sweat (again, so very sexy)?
    I’m seriously asking here, not being trollish.
    My hair (thick & wavy) (and naturally red!) does the best for curling with hot rollers and for big events (weddings, etc.) if I don’t wash it for a day, but after that? I’m all over it. It gets itchy!

  • Jenni

    January 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I see someone’s already mentioned conditioner only! I just wandered in to say that if you’re trying to wash your hear every other day, it’s a great way to get away with it and not look greasy. And one of the possible ‘side effects’ is more volume!
    It’s simple, and cheap too, because the best conditioners for it are the cheap ones. I use Suave, and VO5 is also popular for CO.
    All you do is get a bunch of conditioner, scrub it in, (with the right balance of water and conditioner, you can get a bit of lather,) and rinse it out thoroughly.
    Some people do it every day, and only shampoo once a week or so, but some people, like me, just alternate it and shampoo.

  • Kate

    January 15, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I’ve tried using conditioner only, but I think I’m doing it wrong. I wash my hair every 3 or so days (meaning I do not even get it wet on the non-washing days) and I find that while my hair doesn’t look greasy by shampoo day, I do need shampoo to clean my hair well. The other thing I’ve found is that I absolutely have to condition up to my roots or I can’t comb through my hair very easily. Apparently even my roots are dry, unruly, and frizzy.

  • Lucia

    May 22, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    The texture of my hair has changed since I started working out daily and showering after. It’s not greasy per se but the first three inches or so feel oddly dry-greasy if that makes sense. The rest of my hair feels great. I used to work out daily a few years ago and don’t remember this problem. I too have to shower after working out – non-negotiable. I’ve tried not washing and only rinsing my hair but then all of it feels not clean. Help!

  • Frustrated!

    June 1, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I need help. My hair used to be so manageable- I could literally walk into the shower (shampoo, condition, body wash) and be done within 10 minutes tops. And the result would be a clean and healthy-dry head of hair. Now, for some reason, my hair is becoming more and more greasy-dry and I have not been able to understand why. The top of my head feels like I’ve sprayed a whole can of hair product (spray, mousse) in it. Even in the shower, under the water as I am washing my hair, I feel the dryness in my hair separating it into thick strands. I have tried using 3 different shampoos. Lest it being the fault of the shampoo vendor, I went out and bought shampoo at another store. I stopped brushing my hair with my brush thinking it was maybe because my sister was using my brush after putting product in her hair (then I completely stopped brushing my hair altogether) but none of these methods have worked- my hair is still feeling greasy, piecey and strandy.
    Has anyone come across the same problem? Does anyone have any suggestions? Please help!

  • amber

    December 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Are you pregnant? My hair did that during pregnancy. It could be a hormone change. My hair also did that when my thyroid hormones were low. I went to an endocrinologist, I took a blood test and they gave me some synthetic thyroid hormone and after taking it my hair righted itself after a couple of weeks.