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Social Distancing from your Shampoo

If you’re like me and struggle with greasy hair, you know the most common advice from your hairdresser is wash your hair less often. With constant washing we remove the oils from our scalp, which only directs the scalp to rev up its production to replace the existing oil. What is meant to keep our scalp protected and moisturized becomes a greasy vicious cycle. Because of the cycle, skipping the shampoo was NOT in the cards for me until COVID. 

My friend Liz Heit—sporting a slick bun and thick athletic headband—mentioned on her Instagram stories she was five days into not washing her hair and loving it. After some research I stumbled upon an Allure article which broke down the benefits.

What I found was startling: over-shampooing doesn’t only contribute to grease buildup. “The risks include dry, brittle hair; dry, flaky scalp; and an onslaught of unhealthy bacteria that trigger folliculitis,” Trichologist Bridgette Hill says. “Over-shampooing can also lead to hair breakage, shedding, and thinning.” The “natural oil” and “grease” known as sebum, “naturally moisturizes the skin and the hair,” according to Devika Icecreamwala, a board-certified dermatologist. The article suggested I take advantage of the time away from people to skip the shampoo. In isolation no one can see my grease infestation— so why not? 

After YEARS of being told to calm down my daily hair washing, I thought it was time to break the vicious cycle. For five days my hair was kept in a greasy slick ponytail. Absolutely no hair products, just a brush, was used. 

The first two days were disgusting. The grease was thick and coated my entire scalp. However, quite interestingly, even without washing my hair with time the oil dissipated. By day five, when I was finally ready to wash my hair and end my little experiment, the oil wasn’t so bad. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t pretty—not suitable for going out in public, but definitely an improvement. 

When it came time to wash I made sure to really cleanse my scalp and start anew. I used For All’s Head Balance cleanser, which uses salicylic acid to exfoliate and help clear away product build up or to remove excess skin cells, oil and dandruff. Per the instructions, I applies a quarter sized amount directly and evenly to my dry scalp and massaged for five minutes. Once in the shower, I wet my hair and worked the product into to lather and massaged again for five minutes before rinsing. I then continued on with my normal washing routine (I used Khlorane’s blonde line for both shampoo and conditioner). To manage oil I do not apply conditioner to my roots. 

I don’t use heat products regularly so to see the final results of my hair experiment I needed to wait an hour or two for my hair to fully air dry. When the results were in I couldn’t stop smiling— my hair was so soft and oil free. The best part was it was like that for almost three days! As someone that could barely go a full day before noticing my oily scalp, the change has been substantial. I HIGHLY recommend social distancing from your shampoo bottle during mandatory isolation. With a little patience and persisting through the oil buildup, you’ll put an end to the nasty, oil vicious cycle. After five days, For All hair exfoliant and some good ol’ shampoo and conditioner, my hair and scalp were able to reset. 

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