How To Not Wash Your Hair


Certain Top Shelf tips stick with me longer than others: the career advice in Jean Godfrey-June’s, for instance, or Wendy Rowe’s lip contour trick. Push past the Neutrogena wipes and La Mer sunscreen, and Kim Kardashian’s 2015 Top Shelf has some real wisdom in it, too. “We start out with a blowout on day one, then we go into a messier vibe the next day, and then we flat iron it and do a really sleek look on day three since that requires a little oil in the hair. Day four could be a slicked-back ponytail,” Kim explains. You’ll notice she does not budget one or two days for just pushing through hair that’s too flat or greasy—each re-style is purposeful, which is why it stays looking good from fresh wash to nearly a week in. Genius, no?

“I remember seeing that article when it was first published,” says Blackstones hairstylist Maura Burns, confirming my fascination. “I was like, Kim gets it! These are tricks that will work for everyone.” Like chefs who order takeout on their days off, or manicurists with bare nails, Burns tells me she just reserves 10 minutes (max!) for her thick, wavy hair each day. “I just don’t have the time or patience to deal with it,” she says. But there’s an added bonus to re-styling an old wash that feels particularly relevant right now. “Eventually I realized that, as an assisted redhead, the best way to preserve my color was to rarely wash my hair.” Here, Burns shares her best tips to get up to six good hair days in a row.

For Naturally Straight Hair

Day 1: Wash Day

Burns recommends the blow-dry spray from Five Wits. “It’ll give you smoothness, volume, as well as heat protection, and it’s perfect for fine to medium hair.” For thicker hair that can handle a bit more product, she suggests adding a styling cream for a little extra smoothing on rougher ends.

Day 2: Re-Blow

With straight hair, you might start to notice greasiness as soon as day two. But resist reaching for the dry shampoo! “You don’t want to start weighing the hair down with product yet,” says Burns. Instead, if you notice your hair looks a little flat or greasy, she suggests hitting it with a blowdryer—the hot air will help push natural oils away from your scalp, and the technique will add volume sans product. “Go through the crown with your blow dryer, pushing all the hair on the right to the left and vice-versa.” Burns recommends using a round brush, like these mixed bristle ones from Y.S. Park, to best cheat volume at the root.

Day 3: Styling Day

You can still wear your hair down on day three—all it takes is a little heat styling. “Today is the day to go through with either a curling iron or flat iron,” says Burns. The oil that’s built up adds a layer of protection for shiny hair that doesn’t look fried. And if you’re curling, Burns suggests a texture spray to keep things from looking too done. “You can mist the hair with this Five Wits Texture Spray, go through with a curling wand, mist again with the texture spray, and then brush them out,” she explains. “This gives you a messier, beach wave-y vibe.”

Day 4: Dry Shampoo

If you’ve made it to day four, congratulations! You’ve finally unlocked dry shampoo. While the lazy staple doesn’t exactly wash hair, it will absorb enough excess oil to get one more day out of your styling. Not all dry shampoos are created equal—at this stage in your hairstyle development, you’ll want something that feels lightweight. “Klorane makes the absolute best dry shampoo for a natural, clean-ish feel without sacrificing volume,” says Burns. For darker haired folks she recommends Living Proof’s version instead. “Although it sprays on white,” Burns explains, “it dissolves as you brush it through.” After spraying and blending your dry shampoo, hit the roots with a blowdryer again for an extra refresh.

Day 5: The Updo

“As much as I love to stretch a blowout, by now your hair probably feels a little grimy,” says Burns. So day five is when she suggests you throw everything up into a low chignon, high ponytail, or topknot. A sleek, tight updo, as opposed to a messy one, will make the best use of your hair’s natural shine—but you also might find your hair a little difficult to work with. “You may need to pull out the big guns, otherwise known as Sachajuan Dry Powder Shampoo,” she begins. Unlike the clean-feel dry shampoos she recommends on day four, Sachajuan’s version thickens strands and dries tacky, so you’ll get a good grip as you pull the hair back and up off your face. “Spray it on your roots and brush through, smoothing everything into a ponytail.” Or, you could try this elevated take on a bun: says Burns, “I like to braid my ponytail, twist it into a bun, and then use bobby pins to secure.” Hair cream through the ends refreshes moisture, and hairspray to finish keeps the style secure for the day. For all-around performance, Burns likes the Style Lab Flex Hairspray from Living Proof best.

Day 6: Wash Day

Six days is a long time! Feel free to hop in the shower and give everything a good wash.

If Your Hair Is Wavy Or Curly

Day 1: Wash Day

With curly hair, you’re going to want to start with a good amount of product on day one to make sure your curls stay hydrated and defined. “If you use a blow dryer to rough dry, I love to prep the roots with Sachajuan Volume Cream,” says Burns. “I swear I get an extra day or two out of a style when I use this product.” For those who diffuse or air-dry only, she recommends their Hair Mousse instead, which is lighter and isn’t a heat-protectant (you won’t need it). And on the ends, she treats dryness with a drop of Reverie’s Milk serum. “It just makes them soft and polished,” she explains.

Day 2: Styling Day

After sleeping on it, you might want to go back in with an iron to curl any pieces that have gone rogue. “I typically curl the hairline and through the crown,” says Burns, “plus any curls that need a little more definition.” You can either follow your hair’s natural curl pattern, or beef up waves with a slightly tighter coil. Before you finger-comb everything to soften it, Burns suggests misting with a lightweight, non-crispy texture spray and letting it dry for hold.

Day 3: Disco Remix

You’ve got a couple options here. You might want to continue business as usual: for those with tight curls or coils, refresh with a curling iron and keep the ends hydrated. If your curls are on the loser side, or you have natural waves, you can also try brushing them out. “Using a mixed-bristle brush like a Mason Pearson or even a wide tooth comb, gently loosen your curls,” says Burns. “It’ll turn the style into more of a glam-wave look.”

Day 4: Dry Shampoo

By now you might notice some greasiness at your roots—it’s time to hit it with a little dry shampoo. Your natural scalp oils don’t disperse as easily when your hair is curly. Kinks in the strand keep oil from migrating downwards, and you probably avoid brushing, which would help drag some of that scalp oil to the ends. Because of all that, make sure to keep your ends moisturized with a serum or oil even when using something more absorbent at the top.

Days 5-6: The Updo

Those with curly hair can get away with stretching a wash an extra day, but instead of trying to refresh old curls, embrace a high pony and fluff up your curly ends. Or, brush through everything and twist it up into a bun. To avoid breakage while you sleep, take the style out at night and re-style in the morning—that way, even tight styles won’t cause too much stress on your strands.

Day 7: Wash Day

Wash as usual, and start the whole thing over.

Helpful Tips

Of course, going a week between hair washes doesn’t mean you’re only showering once a week—but if you work out regularly, extending a hairstyle can feel impossible. Burns has a few clever strategies up her sleeve to deal. First of all, alternate the way you wear your hair to avoid harsh ridges. “I love rope braids to help preserve my waves during a low-impact exercise like yoga or pilates, and a high pony for cardio,” suggests Burns. Then, before you hit the showers, flip your head upside down and blow dry the sweat out of your roots. “This will pump a little extra volume into your roots to make restyling later much easier.

Then, to protect your hair while you shower, Burns recommends ditching the shower cap and wrapping it up in a microfiber hair towel instead. “It will block the humidity better than a shower cap,” she explains, keeping hair fresh and dry. Aquis and Crown Affair make chic versions, but a good ‘ol Turbie Twist is often available at the drugstore. And finally, try to schedule your sweatier sessions closer to wash day. If a dance cardio livestream leaves you drenched on day four, hey! You’ve still made it four days. It’s better than nothing.

—Ali Oshinsky

Photo via ITG