As much as I love a fresh blowout, most days of the week I’m styling my second- or third-day hair into messy braids or up in a bun. While there’s no set rule for how often we should be washing our hair, many women I know could say the same of their scattered shampooing schedules — a unique regimen that's individually tailored to each person, whether it be to save time, conserve water, take advantage of hair's natural oils, or extend the life of a style. It feels especially true in the age of social isolation, as we're all navigating new at-home hair routines. And yet, unwashed hair still feels like an open secret (mainly because of all the negative associations attached to it, like dirty, greasy, and unclean), rather than something we celebrate.
To pull back the curtain on how women are actually styling their hair on a daily basis — and more importantly, to reclaim our "off" days — we asked seven women with different hair types and textures to show us the styles they like to wear long after their last wash. With the help of a few key Waterl<ss products and a self-timer camera, each woman styled and shot their own look from their own homes. And if the resulting styles confirm anything, it's that our hair is a source of comfort, creativity, and self-expression now more than ever. From a Bantu-knot afro to a ’90s-inspired piecey bun, check out the styles that will have you social distancing from your shower for a little while longer, below.
Who I am: A student and a holistic nutritionist living in Charlotte.
When I was younger…: “I would wear my hair in protective styles, thinking that alone would ensure my hair’s health. But I didn't moisturize it often or use products for my hair type, which resulted in constant breakage and painful detangling. Over the years, I’ve learned what types of products to use and how often to wash my hair in order to keep it hydrated and protected. I love creating low-maintenance styles that I can wear for at least a week without having to do much besides moisturize.”
Since social distancing…: “I'm focused on process of making my hair healthier, rather than just the appearance of it. Lately, I've been wearing my hair up in wraps for weeks at a time, allowing it to be free in an afro for a day before putting it back in the wrap."
To create this look…: “I slept in Bantu knots secured in a hair wrap, to protect them overnight. The next morning, I took the knots down and used a hair pick to gently stretch out the curls while maintaining the curl pattern. To finish, I parted a section of hair in the front of my head and put three neat Bantu knots in.”
Who I am: A digital strategist and content creator from Venezuela.
On my hair journey: “I have been in a salon chair since I was about 5 years old, perming and heat-styling my natural hair. But two years ago, I finally went natural and eliminated any heat or hair dye, which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am still learning so much about my hair and the importance of treating it with love, patience, and kindness.”
Since social distancing…: “I’ve become more mindful of wash days, styling, and maintenance. One new thing I’ve tried is creating more braided styles and picking up how to cornrow my hair.”
I love this look because…: “It takes less than two minutes to put together. I bring all of my hair into a ponytail at the top of my head and secure it with a phone cord hair tie. I make sure a few of my curls are placed forward like a ‘bang’ drop on my forehead. Next, I grab any satin scarf, fold it into a triangle, and wrap around my head, tying it in a knot in front at my hairline. This pineapple look really shows off my curls.”
Pump a lightweight curl milk onto hands and twist up into your curls to help soften and define them.
Who I am: Refinery29’s Beauty Director living in New York City.
Styling my hair…: “Provides such a sense of comfort and self-care to me, which has never been clearer than during the last two months of quarantine. When I take the time to style my hair, it's a small moment of my day that makes me feel grounded, hopeful, and deeply in touch with myself.”
Since social distancing...: “I have fallen completely in love with hair accessories. They're the easiest, fastest way to improve my mood and feel put together for a video call. And I actually think they look cooler on unwashed, unfussy hair.”
To create this look…: “I touched up my waves with a 1-inch styling wand, wrapping each stand around the barrel in a haphazard, alternating pattern. Starting at the arch of my brow, I slid in my glittery clips, and sprayed a bit of Waterl<ss Dry Conditioner on my hands to smooth my part and the hair that's secured with my two clips.”
Who I am: A content creator living in Guadalajara.
On my relationship with my hair: “I’ve had a tough relationship with my hair ever since I can remember. I always wanted to have straight hair, so it has been difficult for me to accept my curls. While I don’t like to wear my hair naturally, I have always been a fan of hair care and styling, so I do love how much I can change it up with products and tools.”
I usually style my hair…: “In effortless, bedhead waves, spritzing on dry shampoo and texture spray to soak up any excess oil. I actually like my hair best when it's a bit gritty. I also love to do a low slicked-back bun with my hair parted down the middle.”
Since social distancing…: “I’ve been spending a lot of these at-home days with masks in my hair to bring a little nourishment and life back to it, since I’m constantly styling it. I’ve definitely been experimenting more in between masking, as well, trying out new hair techniques. Some days, I’ll break out the styling products and hot tools and play around with different sized curling iron barrels to create interesting textures.”
Who I am: A full-time vintage seller and content creator living in Atlanta.
I love my hair because...: “We've been through it all together: coloring it every shade imaginable, cutting it all off into a bowl cut, and growing it out to its current state. Once you cut basically all of your hair off, it's almost like a rebirth. It’s been two years since, and I’m impressed every day by its growth.”
I draw my inspiration from…: “Color. I love to reflect my mood or sense of style with my hair color choices. During quarantine, I switched up my iconic orange hair into a pink-purple color melt.”
I love this style because…: “It allows me to not have to touch my hair for a few days: no heat, no water, and a little bit of hairspray to tame the wisps. I’ll keep these same braids in for two or three days, not taking them out until I wash my hair next.”
Who I am: A freelance model living in Los Angeles.
I love my hair because…: “It makes me stand out. I never had much confidence growing up, but once I started to grow my hair, I began to blossom. Dreadlocks often get a negative response because of rumors that people with locs don't wash their hair, which is completely false. Locs are like any other form of hair: You can wash, cut, style, and dye them."
Since social distancing…: “I have been doing less to my hair so that it can grow. Before isolation began, I would maintain my hair to a certain degree, which created a lot of tension and thinning from styling and pulling on it. Now, my hair has the chance to grow out naturally without suffering from breakage from being overworked. I usually wash my hair once every two to three weeks, depending on what it looks like.”
I love this look because…: “It is absolutely unique, just like me. I created this loc bun with bangs look on a whim, and it has been the star of my loc journey. It’s a quick and easy way to hide little imperfections that come with having locs since you’re not constantly having your hair done.”
Who I am: A model living in New York City.
My hair is…: “A creative outlet for me. I love creating different styles with wigs, extensions, and hot tools, and changing my hair to fit my mood.”
Since social distancing…: “I’ve become a lot lazier with washing my hair. That being said, I’ve noticed that I’m styling my hair almost every day, never just leaving down. I’ll wear it in French braids one day, or piled on top of my head in a bun the next. Once I get to two or three days, I’ll stick to more slicked-back styles and embrace the oily nature of my hair.”
To create this look, I…: “Separated the two front sections of my hair with a comb, then pulled the rest back into a sleek ponytail. I tightly twisted the ponytail into a bun and used bobby pins to secure it, letting a few pieces stick out. To finish, I ran a flat iron through the front pieces for a polished look and spritzed on light-hold hairspray. I love this look because it pays homage to the fashion icons of the ’90s and my current idols.”
Spray a heat protectant on front sections before going in with a flat iron to help prevent heat damage.