Confessions of Someone Who Washes Their Hair Every Day (and Other Potentially Destructive Hair Habits)

Of all the beauty habits that I’ve seen people butt heads over in my life, perhaps none is more polarizing than the question of how often one should wash their hair.  I’ve read articles written by people who claim that they haven’t washed their hair in two years and that’s the best decision they’ve ever made, while other people swear by washing their hair four times a week.  I tend to stay out of this conversation because I have perhaps the most unpopular approach of all: I have to wash my hair every 24 hours without fail.

    I’ve read the articles, I know that washing your hair too often strips it of its natural oils, causing it to become dry and brittle.  But several years after I’ve supposedly finished puberty, my hair still hasn’t gotten the message to stop producing so much oil.

    Like a lot of people, I started encountering issues with greasy hair when I was around 10 or 11 years old.  Also like most people, my parents and doctor advised a simple solution: shampoo more often. For me, this meant increasing my hair-washing regimen up from 3ish times per week to every morning.  If I didn’t, I’d have to suffer through my mom coating my scalp in baby powder so that it would soak up the oil (her DIY version of dry shampoo) and brushing it out. I was a young woman, my parents said, and young women have always worried about the appearance of their hair, whether they lived in the 5th century, the 18th century, or the 21st century.  

    Also around this time, my mother took me to Walmart to buy school supplies and placed a small, foldable hairbrush in the cart along with pencils, a 3-ring binder, and notebook paper.  This brush, she explained, was to be placed in my locker so that I could brush my hair several times throughout the day. My hair had always been prone to tangles, and my parents had me convinced that if my hair wasn’t impeccably brushed, other girls would make fun of me and adults wouldn’t take me seriously.  To this day, I bring a hairbrush everywhere I go and can often be found stealing away to a bathroom to force my mane back into submission--so please excuse me for clutching my pearls when you casually mention that you haven’t brushed your hair in 2 days.  

    I’m nearly 21 years old now, a grown woman, but it’s hard to unlearn the things that have been so deeply instilled in you.  If I ever dare to go more than a day without shampoo, I fear that my classmates in college will judge me for having “shiny” hair.  I’m afraid that I’ll be fired from my job if I show up with slightly frizzy hair. Do I know that this obsessive washing and brushing is bad for my hair? Yes.  Am I ever going to be able to stop doing it? Probably not.