What If You Didn’t Wash Your Hair for a Year?

Washing our hair regularly is the basic hygiene tip we all know from childhood. Obviously, there aren’t that many people who are willing to test it on themselves but, thankfully, experts already have an idea of how your hair would react to this bold experiment. 

Have You Ever Wondered What Would Happen If You Stopped Washing Your Hair?

Long lengths of time without washing your hair can cause a buildup on the scalp, which can damage hair and possibly impair its ability to grow. Hair follicles would start producing more sebum just to make sure that your hair is properly hydrated. As a result, your hair would become greasy and oily. Hair would develop strong sour milk odor after a month of not washing.

Well, the first couple of days of your experiment would introduce you to an all-natural hair moisturizer known as sebum. As you let your scalp deal with everything on its own, your hair follicles would start producing more sebum just to make sure that your hair is properly hydrated. Often enough, as a result, your hair would become greasy and oily. Wanna know the other details? Then continue reading!

Be sure to read my article called Silicone Shampoo Brush. Do they really work? What are the features you should look for in a Silicone Shampoo Brush and more.

First Few Days Of Not Washing

The first couple of days of your experiment would introduce you to an all-natural hair moisturizer known as sebum. As you let your scalp deal with everything on its own, your hair follicles would start producing more sebum just to make sure that your hair is properly hydrated.

Hair traps moisture, and as a result, germs on unwashed scalps may begin to produce an unpleasant mildew or soured smell after many days or even weeks, especially when there is physical activity involved. How dirty your actually gets is highly dependent on your activity level.

Running every day, for example, means you won’t be able to go three months without showering or cleaning your hair. Because odors collect more quickly with thicker hair, it is necessary to thoroughly clean your scalp between washings.

Long lengths of time without washing the hair can result in a buildup (of bacteria) on the scalp, which can cause damage to the hair and perhaps inhibit its ability to grow in the future.

Grease buildup caused by dirt, oil, and hair products may develop in four to six days for people who have finer hair types. Those with coarse or curly hair may can wait up to 10 days (or 2 weeks).

You could find yourself tempted to scratch your scalp if you have itchy dandruff or a scaly scalp from dead skin cells buildup. This, on the other hand, may cause additional damage to your scalp and hair.

A Little Over A Month Of Not Washing

After a little over a month without shampoo, you’d have to face another problem: the stench! People who get to this stage of no hair washing usually say that it’s kinda like a strong sour milk odor that follows you everywhere you go. 

The thing is, at this point of the experiment, your hair starts to trap moisture. – Several months of no hair washing can result in not only a nasty stinky look but also occasional pain, especially if you wear your dirty hair in a bun. You see, tight ponytails or buns pull on your scalp, which irritates the nerve endings around your hair follicles.

As you Approach The 6 To 8 Month Mark

As you’d come closer to the 6- or 8-month mark of the experiment, another problem would arise: ingrown hairs. And as always, it’s all thanks to oil and dirt build-up in your hair. Nonetheless, it’s not the only issue that can come after 8 months of your new shampoo-free lifestyle.

About A Year Of Not Washing

Another possible “surprise” towards the end of the experiment is a severe case of dandruff. In some cases, all these processes can start way earlier. So, as you can see, throwing your shampoo out the window isn’t that great of a decision after all!

When It Comes To Coarse Or Afro Hair, How Frequently Should It Be Washed?

When worn in a protective style, Afro or coarse hair textures may last for far longer periods of time go without washing, possibly up to three months. When you wear your hair in hairstyles like cornrows or weaves, you may need to wait for it to entirely grow out before washing it again. Following that, the hair may be cleansed and restyled, which may result in a period of one to three months between washings, depending on the rate of development of your hair. What about tea tree oil? Can tea tree oil shampoo help keep your scalp clean?

“Is it true that denser hair follicles tend to conceal oil more effectively than thinner hair? This indicates that if your hair isn’t very greasy, you should aim to wash it just once or twice a week if possible. A tea tree oil based shampoo is recommended if you have problems with buildup or itching in your hair. I recommend Tea Tea Oil Special Shampoo for all hair types.

Ed Shears

It is determined by the condition of the scalp. The majority of the time, Afro hair is thin and delicate in texture rather than coarse. This seems coarse owing to the growth pattern it shows during its development stage. Afro haired people typically use a variety of oils on their hair to keep it under control. Furthermore, because they spend so much time styling their hair, they are more inclined to wash it less regularly. Bathing less regularly is typically recommended in this circumstance if there are no scalp issues.

Maintain the moisture (helps keep moisture) in your Afro hair by using products such as conditioning sprays and oils on a regular basis. When you incorporate products like as a full comb through, treatments, and leave-in conditioners in your Afro hair wash regimen, it may take a while. As a result, if your scalp seems healthy, there is nothing wrong with going longer between washes.

What Causes Hair Loss When Your Scalp Is Dirty

Our sebaceous glands create sebum oil, which is responsible for coating and protecting our hair strands as they emerge from our scalps. Hair breakage is prevented by using it in moderate amounts to assist provide moisture, strength, and flexibility to the hair.

However, if we don’t wash our hair for an extended period of time, we may have scalp accumulation. Clogging your pores can be caused by a combination of factors including sebum, dead skin cells, pollutants, debris, and product residue. If at all possible, you should avoid having filthy hair since it might contribute to hair loss.

Summary And What The Experts Say

What about coconut oil? Can coconut oil or baking soda help prevent dry skin?

“Did you know that certain shampoos can cause excessive drying of any skin surface? This results in a rise in oil production, which can contribute to unpleasant skin problems in certain people. However, there are a variety of alternatives available, like coconut oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar, to name a few. Please keep in mind that not everyone’s hair behaves in the same manner. Be sure to conduct preliminary study and test on a tiny region before diving in.”


Author and journalist Susan Elkintalked about her own experience with quitting shampoo for 5 years. According to her, during the first stages, as your hair is adjusting, you should be patient and help your hair by brushing it often. Brushing distributes the oil (from oil glands) along your hair follicles and removes all the dirt and dust.

There’s a whole movement called “No Poo” that encourages people to stop using shampoos for good. And the reasoning behind it is completely logical! The strong chemicals that most shampoos contain are known to strip our hair of its natural oil, which actually damages it.

“No poo” followers suggest giving it a month to see whether your hair will adjust to this new cleaning technique. What you have to do is rinse your hair with warm water and massage your scalp exactly like you would with shampoo. This will get all the oil out of your hair.

Originally published: Gavazzoni Dias MFR, et al. (2014). The Shampoo pH can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality? DOI: “
Dermatologists most frequently prescribe shampoos for the treatment of hair shed and scalp disorders. Prescription of hair care products is often focused on improving scalp hair density and body, whereas some people believe that over-the-counter products focus on hair damage prevention. Little is taught in medical schools about the hair cosmetics, so that the prescriptions are based only on the treatment of the scalp and usually disregards the hair fiber health.”

5 Min Read: Hair care, according to the AAD
Related stories: Tips for healthy hair, according to the AAD,  

“How you wash your hair and the products you use can go a long way toward maintaining smooth, shiny hair. Follow these simple tips from dermatologists to maintain healthy hair.

  1. Wash oily hair more frequently. How often you wash your hair should be based on how much oil your scalp produces.
  2. If your scalp is oily, you may need to wash it as often as once a day.
  3. If you have chemically treated hair, your hair may be drier, so you may want to wash it less frequently.
  4. As you get older, your scalp makes less oil, so you may not need to shampoo as often. But if you see flakes in your hair, you may not be shampooing enough. This can lead to dandruff and other scalp diseases.
  5.  Concentrate shampoo on the scalp. When washing your hair, concentrate on cleaning primarily the scalp, rather than washing the entire length of hair. Washing only your hair can create flyaway hair that is dull and coarse.
  6.  Use conditioner after every shampoo unless you use a “2-in-1” shampoo, which cleans and conditions hair. Using a conditioner can significantly improve the look of damaged or weathered hair by increasing shine, decreasing static electricity, improving strength and offering some protection from harmful UV rays.
  7.  Concentrate conditioner on the tips of the hair. Because conditioners can make fine hair look limp, they only should be used on the tips of the hair and not on the scalp or length of the hair.
  8.  Choose a shampoo and conditioner formulated specifically for your hair type. For example, if you color your hair, use a shampoo designed for color-treated hair. If your hair is damaged or chemically treated, consider a “2-in-1” shampoo. Regardless of cost, many shampoo and conditioner brands provide the same benefits.
  9.  Protect hair when swimming. Protect your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine by wetting and conditioning your hair before swimming. Wear a tight-fitting swim cap and use a specially formulated swimmers shampoo and deep conditioner after swimming to replace lost moisture.”

If you are searching for a doctor for skin or hair treatments or just seeking expert advice you can always consult a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital New York City, New York, here.