Please Stop Shaming My Hair-Washing Habits
By: Mi-Anne Chan
Hello, my name is Mi-Anne Chan and I wash my hair every. Single. Day. I keep this information to myself for the most part, but when it does come up, I usually get one of two responses: “That’s so bad for you,” or, “Oh, I never wash my hair, I’m just so lazy.” The response in my head: Cool story, bro.
Earlier this month, I had a similar conversation with a beauty vlogger. Somewhere in our 15-minute chat about lipstick and sunscreen, we got on the subject of hair. She proceeded to tell me she washes hers once every two weeks. Her husband, on the other hand, chimed in, saying he washes his locks daily. “You should really stop doing that,” she replied. Realization: I wasn’t the only one being shamed.
You see, I wash my hair every day because it’s what I’ve been doing my entire life and it’s always worked well for me. I prefer the way my hair looks after its been air-dried and I enjoy going to bed with a clean slate every night — so lathering up every evening just works for me. (I’ll admit, I’m a little paranoid about germ exposure. The thought of crawling into my clean bed with greasy hair terrifies me.)
At some point during the current dirty-hair revolution, not washing your hair has become a signifier of “cool.” Perhaps this is related to the resurgence of ’90s grunge or maybe it’s a desire to capture that model-off-duty look — either way, it feels like washing your hair regularly has become as high-maintenance as asking for a heated apple pie à la mode with separate ice cream — “strawberry instead of vanilla, if you have it.” (That was the neurotic Sally Albright fromWhen Harry Met Sally, if you didn’t know.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good lived-in, effortless, I-didn’t-do-anything-this-morning, bedhead aesthetic, but I obtain this through a spritz of salt spray. I’m not here to judge anyone who chooses to wash his or her hair less frequently than I do mine. The truth of the matter is: Hair washing is totally unique to the individual — and I’m determined to stop apologizing for my habits.
Take our beauty news editor, Taylor Bryant: She has curly hair, which she’d describe as thick, coarse, and often dry, so she washes once a week. For her, this method works perfectly. Women and men with color-treated hair can also get away with washing less frequently — our West Coast editor, Lexy Lebsack, has straight, fine strands, but bleaches her hair, so she’s on a twice-a-week schedule. In fact, everyone on our beauty team is different, because all of our hair is different.
But even those aren’t hard-and-fast rules for those with locks that skew dry or have processed hair: “People with color in their hair can wash their hair every-other day, or even every day,” says celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. She adds that with the abundance of gentle, sulfate-free shampoos on the market today, washing your hair daily won’t damage it.
That being said, this month, a coworker and I decided to see what all the hoopla surrounding infrequent hair washing was about (stay tuned for the full story). We decided to skip a few days between shampooing to see if it would actually make our hair healthier. Long story short: I discovered that for my lifestyle, washing my hair daily, or even every-other day, is my preference. I can’t be bothered with all the dry shampoo and shower caps involved with purposefully forcing myself to forgo washing as long as I possibly can. But hey, at least I can say I tried.
Still, I die a little inside every time someone shames me for washing my hair every day. I wonder, Does my hair really look that bad? When you say my hair looks “clean,” is that actually code for “dry and lifeless”? It’s hard not to internalize the notion that daily hair-washing is the worst possible thing you could do to your tresses (you know, because hot tools are so much better). But that’s when I have to remind myself that at the end of the day, if my hair-washing ritual doesn’t scream “cool girl” to all who pass by, it’s okay. I think I can live with that just fine.
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