What Happens When You Stop Washing Your Hair

Getting the best out of your hair often feels like you’re running a science experiment. Any day now, you’ll uncover the right mixture of chemicals and emerge a supermodel — or maybe a superhero!

However, some people have taken to a true extreme in terms of haircare: they’ve completely stopped washing their hair! This style trend is exploding from coast to coast, but does it actually work? Or will you come out of this looking like the Bride of Frankenstein?

If you really want the truth behind this trend, we’ve got a full rundown of the pros and cons of not washing your hair.

Natural oils make hair shiny

What do you think of when you think about beautiful hair? For many of us, the answer involves hair that looks really shiny and sleek. But frequent washing actually takes out much of what makes your own hair shine.

When you stop washing your hair, you give the natural oils in your hair time to work their magic. But that oil might need the help of a boar bristle brush to bring out the shine in all of your hair.

Say bye to dry

Here’s a weird paradox: have you noticed that washing your hair can actually make it look and feel more dry? That’s because of the same hair oil (sebum is the technical name) that we mentioned before.

Washing out that oil every day means that after you blow-dry your hair, it will feel seriously dry all day. But letting your hair’s natural oil do its thing means that your hair is going to feel pleasantly silky in addition to looking nice and shiny.

Of course, this may only apply to hair that hasn’t been dyed. If your dyed hair tends to dry out without a lot of conditioner, your natural oils may not be enough to smooth it out.

Your hair will no longer smell like shampoo

We all want our hair to look awesome, but a shower isn’t designed for aesthetic purposes. The main point of washing your hair is to…well…wash your hair! If you stop washing entirely, your hair may develop a pretty funky smell.

Think of your hair as a magnet for moisture. Everything from rain and sweat to simple humidity gets stored in your hair, and that moisture can easily turn into bacteria. The bacteria can get seriously smelly, especially if you never wash it.

Smelly hair won’t happen to everyone, though. This is another case where you should skip washing for a few days and see what happens. Hopefully, you can still pass the “smell test!”

Products, dust, dirt, and smoke will build-up in your hair

Do you use a lot of products in your hair? Unless you want to stop using them, you may need to keep regularly washing your hair.

Think of it this way: unless you wash your hair, all of that product has nowhere to go. It’s just going to keep building up and may even make your hair look very bad. In that sense, this “product pileup” can undo everything you were going for when you decided to stop washing.

Remember when we said that your hair collected moisture all throughout the day? Well, there’s something else that it collects: dust and dirt.

Eventually, letting that dirt stay on your head can make your scalp start to itch. But even if that doesn’t happen, your hair is at risk of storing all the stray dirt and soot that you walk through each day.

If you’re not careful, nasty smells from dirt and smoke may cling to your hair just like the smell of tobacco smoke clings to an old coat.

You could start losing your hair

Some morbid part of you is probably asking: “what’s the worst that could possibly happen if I stop washing my hair?” The short answer is that you could start losing your hair!

Before you freak out, this can only really happen if you simultaneously stop washing your hair and keep using hair products. This combo can actually congest your scalp to a point where hair falls out and/or stops growing entirely.

This isn’t permanent, and it won’t happen to an extreme amount. But if it happens, consider this your warning sign to either ditch the hair products or go back to washing your hair.

Itchy and painful possibilities

While most people aren’t likely to experience hair loss when they stop washing their hair, an itchy scalp is a serious possibility.

This is especially true if you if you wear your hair up in a bun or a ponytail. And let’s face it, if you’re not washing your hair, you’re more likely to wear it up to hide the fact that it looks dirty.

But doing so can cause friction on your scalp, and those nerves are going to be more sensitive soon after you stop washing. To avoid the pain, try to skip the ponytails until you’re further in your “no wash” journey.

Your hair color will last longer

Do you dye your hair? In that case, not washing your hair may help you hold onto the dyed color that much longer.

That’s because frequent showering can wash out the hair color just as easily as it washes out your hair oil. Pretty soon, you need to dye it again or be stuck with your natural hair color. Conversely, if you give washing a rest, you get to enjoy your new color for as long as possible.

It’s up to you to determine if the pleasure of shiny and colorful hair is worth the possible downsides of not washing your hair!

Everyone’s hair will react differently

Basically, everybody’s genetics and hair are a bit different. That means that some people’s hair is going to thrive without washing and others will really suffer.

You won’t really know until you stop washing your hair for a few days and see what happens!


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