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When Not to Wash Your Hair

"Isn't it the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you're forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate?" — Elle Woods

That the entire plot of Legally Blonde comes down to someone washing her hair at the wrong time is telling. For those that manipulate their color and texture, timing is everything. Getting your hair wet in salt water after a Keratin treatment can end in disaster, and dipping blonde hair in chlorine can yield unintended punky results. Here, a list of times when you should not wash your hair. Come on, that's what Psssssst is for! For the full list,


  • Before you dye it. The natural oils in your hair can protect it from the chemicals in dye. Don't wash your hair for a day or so before you color.
  • Before you go to the salon. As much as it might gross you out to subject your stylist to your dirty tresses during the consultation, washing your hair twice in one day can be damaging.
  • Before going to the beach, unless you love beach hair with a passion. Your hair will likely have sand and salt water in it and you'll want to wash it when you shower.
  • After you get extensions. Sources say you should wait two days after getting hair extensions to wash, and even then there are special techniques and products you might want to use. Consult your stylist.
  • After any hardcore retexturizing treatment. If you get a Keratin treatment, perm, Japanese straightening treatment, etc., there is probably a special shampoo you need to use, if any. Don't forget to ask!
  • After Botox. If you choose to get Botox, your doctor should tell you not to wash your hair for a certain amount of time to avoid bruising, headaches, or unintended results. If he or she doesn't, it's a bad sign.

When you should (or can) wash your hair:

  • When you have your period. There is an old wives' tale that dictates you shouldn't wash your hair when you are menstruating. Not true. Wash away.


Join The Conversation
details2 details2 8 years
I feel I need to wash my hair everyday... but I try to do it every other day... My hair is very fine and my scalp gets oily 1/2 way through the day but my ends are dry... also - if I don't blow dry my hair it looks like a hot mess ( I love how that phrase has taken over)... I would love to wash my hair 2 a week and let it air dry all the time... but my scalp will break out and my hair would look disgusting!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
it's really funny that the post here has elle woods in it. i saw legally blonde on broadway last night and this is so appropriate. anyway, i have to admit that i get a bit scared about going to the salon w/o washing my hair - but i guess that there are times that it's a better thing. it's also hard sometimes when you can't wash your hair for a few days after a treatment cause i know that for myself - i can only live w/ my hair in a ponytail for so many days.
tglynn tglynn 8 years
haha that last bullet about the old wives tale.... I was watching vintage sex ed videos on you tube, and one girl asked "can you wash your hair while on your period?" and the teacher responded "Bathing! you can do it everyday!" in a sing-song voice.
Inkchick Inkchick 8 years
I cannot believe they still make Pssssst - my mom used to use that on me in grade school (hello that was in the 60's!!)
lawchick lawchick 8 years
y'all are lucky. my hair is fine, and blonde, so I have to wash it every day or it will look greasy and flat :(
emalove emalove 8 years
I wash my hair every other day...I couldn't go any longer, my hair is way too baby-fine and it would get greasy.
FoxyJo FoxyJo 8 years
FoxyJo FoxyJo 8 years
I wash my haid 2x a week. I hate having clean hair because it never holds my curl (I curl my layers under with a curling iron). I know this sounds weird but my hair is TOO soft and silky after I wash it! LoL! It stays flat! I love volume!! Plus I also have highlights in my hair now and I don't want to have to blow dry my hair everyday and dry it out...
juliarose23 juliarose23 8 years
haha i'm about to go to the beach. so i guess i won't wash my hair!
brutalcupcake brutalcupcake 8 years
Interesting :P
donamaria donamaria 8 years
I have to wash mine everyday!
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
Skigurl, if I washed my hair more than once a week it would become too dry. I am African American. I do know people who wash every two weeks but I couldn't do that anymore.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 8 years
Ha!! My mom always told me never to wash my hair or paint my naild during menstruation when I was younger. And when I gave birth to my son she told me I couldn't wash it for two weeks. Those crazy old wive's tale kill me.
littleblonde littleblonde 8 years
i have to wash my hair every day. it gets oily so quickly I can barely go 24 hours. plus I love the clean hair feeling to it better than dirty.
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 8 years
I wish I could wash my hair 1x a week! I HAVE to wash it at least every other day, and even then, the days I don't wash my hair, by afternoon it looks kind of gross to me--even if I use dry shampoo.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
once a week bellaressa???? how do you manage the other 6 days? i normally do it like 4 times a week
imcs imcs 8 years
I don't get the connection with botox.
Shadowcat14 Shadowcat14 8 years
I need advice. I am a swimmer and I took a break and had my hair permed about 5 weeks ago. But it still smells like the perming chemicals. I went back to the salon and my stylist did a deep conditioning treatment and it helped for a day and now the smell is back. It doesn't bother me that much when it is dry but when I sweat, I love working out, it is nearly unbearable. Does anyone have any advice?
alwayswallis alwayswallis 8 years
Don't wash before you go to the pool - It makes it easier to put in a ponytail and the natural oils protect your hair from the chemicals!
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
I wash mine once a week. I couldn't do it everyday.
NLM1212 NLM1212 8 years
I have never heard that old wives tale about not washing your hair during your period. How odd. I wonder how/ why it originated.
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