Can You Get Away With Not Washing Your Hair?

Categories Grooming

Get the good oil on shelving the shampoo.


The “no ‘poo” movement is gathering steam, with a stack of anecdotal evidence that the scalp’s natural oils result in shinier, healthier-looking hair.

Shampoo works by trapping the oil and dirt and grease and product residue sitting in your hair before water washes it out — do that every day, and your strands will be depleted of those natural oils and proteins, making them frizzier and more prone to breakage. Once you leave your hair suds-free for a week, your scalp produces less oil — called sebum — once that initial layer of natural conditioner has been established.

Sebum isn’t just secreted in your hair, it’s all over your body. So why do we think our scalps get particularly greasy? Listen to “no ‘poo” disciples and they’ll tell you that belief is nothing but a triumph of marketing in the late 1960s, when the invention (and advertisement) of shampoo ended an era of Don Draper-esque slicked back styles and ushered in the fluffy ‘dos of the ‘70s.

The sans-shampoo brigade also argues that dry shampoo — powder applied at the roots to mop up the excess oil and dirt that accumulates there — and a scrub with a palm brush to exfoliate the scalp and clear away dead skin does the trick just fine, without exposing your skin to a long list of moisture-depleting, unpronounceable chemicals that you’d normally see on the bottle of a kitchen cleaning product. Sorry, Pantene.


Turfing the Tresemme is fine if you’ve got thick, lush, curly hair that’d blow up like an afro if you shampooed it daily — but blokes with fine hair know that their excess oil and dirt has nowhere to hide, and needs to be washed often. The same goes for sweaty men, like those who exercise often or live in a sweltering climate. So thin-haired personal trainers from Queensland, don’t toss out your shampoo just yet.

Men who style their hair should also keep the ‘poo in the shower — your mane needs to be clean before you style it, especially if you’re blow-drying it into place. That said, if you’re applying a heavy product like wax or cream every day, you don’t want to place it under any more stress than it’s already exposed to.

Try to limit washing to three times a week max — anything more is excessive — and make sure you condition on a different day to lathering up. Shampoo strips the hair of oil whereas conditioner locks in moisture, so you need a bit of sebum on the strands for conditioner to produce that healthy sheen.

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to how frequently you should shampoo. Curly-locked fellas might never need to shampoo if their scalp doesn’t become itchy and flaky, while thinner hair might feel oily after a couple of days. For most men, a couple of times a week is ample.