The last time I went to my hairdresser, she commented on how great my hair looked and asked if I had been doing anything differently. I've been going to her for a long time now so I felt I could be honest.
"I have not washed my hair for about 10 days," I replied, thinking, here it comes, she's going to ask me to answer the toughest question of all: How often should you wash your hair?
I thought she would be shocked. Instead, she just nodded.
"I have another client who never washes her hair between appointments," she told me. "And her hair looks fantastic."
All of this got me thinking about why most of us feel we need to wash our hair at least every other day – if not daily. I think part of it is habit. When we were teenagers, your hair type plays a big part in when you shampoo your hair. Our hair was often oily and the only way to keep the grease in check was to lather up every morning. As we grew older, we were subject to the massive marketing of shampoo manufacturers who aim to make you feel that clean hair is the next best thing to orgasm (or, in at least one ad, even better than sex).
In fact, when it comes to how often should you wash your hair — it's actually bad to wash hair everyday, as frequent shampooing can actually damage hair at midlife. Your hair is probably much drier than it used to be and shampoo – even the gentlest brands – rob it of the opportunity to replenish natural oils. Unless you live in an extremely dusty or dirty place, you can go a week or more without washing your hair and nothing bad will happen to you. You might even be surprised at how good you look.
During my longest stretch without shampooing, I did run water through my hair in the shower every couple of days just to rinse it out. That seemed to get rid of any surface dirt quite effectively.
I realize this is radical advice in a culture obsessed with cleanliness. I assure you that I am the kind of person who never leaves a dirty dish in the sink and makes my bed every day. Some people even consider me something of a neat freak.
But I'm giving my hair a break for now.