Five Tips for Getting Through a Week of Workouts Without Washing Your Hair

Yes, we promise you can do it.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

Good news! It’s official—you don’t have to wash your hair. (Well, as much.)

If you exercise frequently, you’d think you should shampoo your hair every day, right? But that can actually make your hair oilier, says Immortal Beloved head stylist Ashley Geesaman. “Our bodies are smart,” says Geesaman, explaining that when you strip away your scalp’s natural oil by washing it every day, your body actually starts to overproduce oil.

It’s a question Geesaman says she hears all the time. Clients are constantly asking how to keep their hair looking healthy between workouts with minimal shampooing. “I mean, DC people are very type A. They’re very fit,” she says. “We’re on 14th Street, so I have clients coming right from SoulCycle and Barre3 is across the street. It doesn’t phase us at all. We want to help you look your best.”

Below, Geesaman shares her five recommendations for keeping everything up there together, no matter how much you exercise.

Dry shampoo is your friend.

Yes, of course you already know about dry shampoo, but most clients are using it incorrectly, says Geesaman. First, hold the canister about four-to-five inches away from the root before spraying it in. Then you need to work the product in just like you would an actual shampoo. “I think that’s people’s mistake—they just spray it like hairspray and they’re like, ‘Okay, that should do the trick,’” she says. After, flip your head over and tousle your hair a bit to help it absorb more of the spray.

Or you may have to call in the big guns.

If your hair gets extra greasy, Geesaman recommends using a powder shampoo. It’s a silica powder you put in your hands and then rub through your hair. To ensure it’s properly absorbed, she recommends lifting your hair section by section and focusing on the roots. “That’s for the person that’s going to SoulCycle every day or you’re running a 5K every morning,” she says.

Also a good idea? A hair refresher. It’s basically as it sounds, Geesaman says—perfume for your hair.

When in doubt, put it up (or put some product on it).

If you have long hair, put it up in a high ponytail with a wide headband or scarf tied at the top (luckily, that look is in right now). That’ll cover up the hairline, which is the part that shows oil the most, says Geesaman.

Short hair can be a little trickier, she says, but resist the urge to wet it—that could make it look even oilier. Instead, she recommends using a product like a wax to add some texture. “It’s meant to do a ‘90s Sharon Stone, slicked-back look,” she says. “That’s fun. With short hair, you have to embrace it looking a little damp.”

Start training your hair to get used to less shampoo.

It’s ideal for someone to only wash their hair twice a week, says Geesaman, but people are often reluctant to go that long. Your best bet is to ease into it, she says. Start by washing your hair every other day, then transition into every two days, and continue until you’re only shampooing two times a week. “If you back off, the first couple weeks it’ll look crappy,” she says, “then it recalibrates.”

But a deep clean is okay every now and then.

If you feel like your less-frequent shampoo schedule is leaving buildup on your scalp, use a clarifying cleanser every few weeks, says Geesaman. “It’s similar to doing a mask on your face,” she says. “It’s just getting more out than your basic facial cleanser.”

It’ll strip out all the extra oil and dry shampoo product, but be careful—if your hair is dyed, it could weaken the color over time.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.