Most female morning routines usually go something like this: brush teeth, take shower, wash hair, dry hair, style hair. Mine goes something like this: brush teeth, put on shower cap, take shower. You'll notice that's three steps I'm leaving out, with a net loss of two. The minutes I save not washing my hair everyday leaves me time to enjoy the front page of the newspaper, watch a little of The Today Show, and indulge my over-eating habits at breakfast with homemade egg sandwiches, fresh fruit and a few bites of ice cream from the freezer. My unwashed hair and I always leave the apartment well-rested, briefed on the day's news, and full-bellied. So out it's in: dirty hair.
There are reasons I don't wash my hair daily, and they're not all related to saving time and energy. But before I delve into those, a little history: I discovered the beauty of dirty hair when I was 17, arguably the greasiest time in any adolescent's life. I was on an Outward Bound sailing course for thirty days without modern conveniences like toilets, sinks, showers, and soap. For the first week I was more concerned with how my hair was going to look than with charting the day's course (I still say those rocks came out of nowhere) but by the second week, I was sailing the boat with one hand and flirtatiously running my fingers through my hair with the other. The dirt had settled. Neptune was smiling. My hair never looked better.
I have very fine, curly hair that has always been in need of a little volume. The curl-to-fine-follicle ratio is such that the weight of it all pulls my hair down and forms a plateau. It's flat on the top but extends outwards in curly walls of a hard-to-manage mess. (An ex-boyfriend of mine once compared it to Samuel Adams' coif. We broke up two months later.)
For 16 years I had accepted this genetic betrayal as my legacy, but a few weeks away from the shampoo showed me that a little dirt and a little grease gives me way more volume than a wash, a condition, and a mousse. And I've never looked back.
Since the trip I've washed my hair about twice a week. And that's only because sometimes I like to straighten it (which necessitates a wash, condition, and blow-dry) and other times because I'm feeling extra tired, and washing my hair wakes me up a bit. Nothing like cold water pounding the scalp to get the eyes open. Even if I go to the gym and have a sweaty workout, I don't stray from the routine. The more sweat, the more volume. Week at the beach? Wonderful! Salt does wonders for skin, scalp, and hair.
If you're concerned about smell, there are great hair deodorizers and mists that leave hair smelling fresh and clean. I've got one from Bath and Body Works that's terrific. If grease is your fear, dissolve it with a hair powder spray that creates instant fullness, enhances color, and adds grip. This centuries-old technique was used by fashionistas in Paris, Parliament members in the UK, and Native Americans. I think Marie Antoinette and Sacagawea expressed it best when they said, "Hair powder is bananas. I die." Wait, maybe that was Rachel Zoe, but regardless, hair powder is a transformative product that is now a necessary addition to all mirrored-cupboards nationwide. I use it even after a wash to get a little grit back in that I just rinsed out. Love that volume.
It takes a while to get used to dirty hair, and the hardest part may just be breaking the routine of washing it. It's not for everyone, but I sure as heck endorse the dirty head. And the saved time.
Sammy Adams, eat your heart out.
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