Project Alicia : Photo Diary: Hair Experiment

Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo Diary: Hair Experiment

Today I want to talk about a subject matter dear to my heart... because let's face it- HAIR is a womans most prized possession, second only to- um, maybe her children.

Some woman seem to have it made. They have easy to manage hair that is blown dry and styled in the amount of time it takes me to shower. If that sounds like you, this post might not be for you. You can skip out now.

If not, read on.

I, on the other hand, have been cursed with coarse unruly hair that seems to have a mind all it's own. After each child my hair became more curly, but not all over. I can't help but wonder if it would suddenly go straight again with another pregnancy or magically become evenly curly. That is my biggest challenge... it is not evenly anything! It's straight in the front and the sides and the very top layer and varies from mild to kinky curls throughout the back. I've been told, "hormones" repeatedly- but whatever it is, it SUCKS.

What's a girl to do? I for one don't have extra hours that I want to be spending on my hair everyday, not to mention the damage all those products and tools can do.

I have just recently grown my hair out after almost 15 years of having it anything from a short to mid bob. Although there are more options with longer hair, I'm struggling to find the right styles for me and most importantly, ones that I am capable of doing. My sisters all have long hair and have for as long as I can remember. They can use that chi like it's an extension of their own hand and end up with perfectly flowing curls (which is a blog tutorial all it's own). The hot stick- the latest, greatest must have is their new favorite. I haven't tried that yet, but not so sure I have the patience required for good results. It also requires some mad $$$.

I've been undergoing an experiment over the last couple weeks to see just how long I could go without WASHING my hair. Yes, you heard it right.

If you are grossed out or can't relate on any level... STOP now.

My mother has stories of going at least a week before they would pump the water from the well and boil it for their bath.

Nothing that drastic here, we do have running water- just a busy mom trying to get the most out of a day.

Not to mention that my stylist is convinced that everyone should go at least 2 or 3 days without washing so that natural oils aren't stripped from your hair.

This experiment was more about the hair than the photos. It was all I could do to remember to take them. Most of them were taken by my 10 year old son or with my point and shoot with horrible lighting.

I actually made it to day 4 twice, but didn't get photos either day.


I learned a few things along the way...
There are a few MUSTS to make this possible.

1. A great dry shampoo. I use Rockaholic Dirty Secret. Bumble and Bumble or Klorane are other good ones. I've also used powder or baking soda in a pinch.

2. A shower cap. Nothing fancy required, just something to cover the hair while showering. I use the cheap pack you can get at any drugstore. A friend of mine uses Target sacks. Or you could opt for the fancy-shmancy spa caps. Google it, you'll be amazed at the variety available.

3. Accessories. You need to invest in a few cute hats and headbands to make days 3 and 4 doable. I found a cute hat recently at The Buckle (last photo, day 3) and a super cute headband at Aerie. I'm sure you have way more options where you live, but the accessories are key to making it at least 3 days.

4. Less Sweating. You can still workout, but I have found that sweating complicates the plan. Luckily I don't sweat much and I only do cardio one day/week right now. You may have to alter your workouts to make them less intense or play around with the schedule a bit.

5. Products. Products really make all the difference. I love the Pureology line. I'm currently using the purple hydrate shampoo and conditioner, superstraight, and shinemax. I sometimes use bedhead masterpiece shine spray to finish, but not often. The trick is to use most of your products on day 1, but not the other days. I usually only use a tiny bit of the shinemax on day 2 and rarely anything on day 3.

Hair is tricky business. There are hundreds upon hundreds of styling tools and products out there and you have to figure out which ones work best for you and then PRACTICE. You have to be flexible, willing to take risks, and able to use some imagination at times.

I'm so glad I did this. I proved to myself that it is indeed possible. And should we have another disaster, such as the flood of 08, and are without water again... I can survive and I won't look like I haven't showered in a week.

So, to close I have a few questions to throw out there.

What kind of hair do you have?

Have you found a styling tool that works better for you than another? If so, tell us what it is and why you love it.

Do you have a favorite product that you can't live without?

Do you wash your hair daily and somehow made it this far only to find yourself feeling grossed out?

Or do you wash every 2 or 3 days and have other tricks of the trade that you want to share?



  1. 1st - have to say you are the cutest thing ever!
    I have longed to get the hair in your last set of pictures. I did it once for a wedding and was never able to recreate it.
    Answers to your questions: I have straight when short thin hair. It does have a lot of natural bounce, but I straighten it out because I can't make it work with my face. When it is long it is wavy. It gets pretty oily after not washing it for just a day, but I use a lot of conditioner because I think that helps make it look a lot smoother.
    I use a flat iron that I bought at Wal-Mart because I am too cheap for a Chi and it works well for me for now. Athough it takes me forever to get ready in the mornings and my hair is short!
    I have to have hair spray - no professional brand here.
    My current method is to wash it daily. I don't know how you do it, but when I wake up in the morning my hair is unfixable!
    I would love to try this out and you have inspired me to grow my hair out and get a spiral iron!

  2. So, funny. I was just talking to my friend about this topic at the pool this morning! My SIL's SIL is a hair stylist in Texas and she swears by 4 day old hair. I can't do it. I run or swim every day, so my hair over washed. But you are rockin' the hair. Whatever effort/product you use, you always look great. In college I used baby powder all the time for those early morning classes after my far too frequent all nighters.

  3. OK I LOVE THIS POST! All your pics are fabulous! You are stunning. I have always gone an average of 3 days without washing my hair too! I used to use baby powder but, in black hair... doesn't blend so well! I need some dry shampoo. I also love your accessories! I need some of those too. OH and your hats DARLING!!!! I love Buckle too. We should go to Utla, or however you spell it, sometime. Sounds like my kind of store. Also would love to have a few nights of "hair experiment" with ya!!

  4. yeah, i can go 2-3 days w/out washing....i always have cause of my VERY DRY hair. and like you, i use products on the first day, very little maybe on the second day, and none on the 3rd. have recently just started working out again, and it is a pain cause i doo sweat a little. i can only go 2 days when working out! cute pics by the way.

  5. My hair has done the opposite thing with children! It has gone from curly to straight!! I hate it! I used to be able to wash and dry in like 5 min. Now I have to straighten that bad boy which takes about a half hour and who has that with three kids? I love all your cute do's on day three I should get more creative! I wash my hair everyother day. Unless I have something really important... there is nothing like a wash and fresh blow dry to help make me feel pretty!

  6. First of all you are just too cute....don't remember ever having those years. I enjoyed this post, it made me laugh and taught me something, since I am totally lost in the hair world. I think I just learned to put it up and keep going because I was running with kids so much. You have a wonderful sense of humor!!!! Enjoyed!!!!

  7. I TOO HAVE BEEN EXPERIMENTING. I have a layered but on corase and curly hair. I also have an INSANE amount of hair. Each time I get it cut, my hairdresser shocks herself all over again. But I digress...
    I use a conair straighteher, but SWEAR by CHI smoothing/straightening lotions. I also have a dry shampoo (PSSSSt from Walgreens) that I use on day 2 and 3 if I make it. My scalp is oily and it is much harder when the temps go up to stretch it out in the humidity!!! I also use translucent face powder (works for dark hair!) on my parts to keep the greasiness at bay.

  8. First off, great discussion girls. Really good questions too. I started to send emails only to realize all could benefit, so I'm going to chime in.

    Sharps: The last style is by far the easiest, especially if you already have some wave. I air dry and then touch up some pieces and it lasts for days. And I like I said, if you wash less it will eventually be less oily. Save your pennies. A good flat iron will do wonders on bedhead.
    How to use the dry shampoo?? So, it comes in an aerosol can and you spray it on roots and scalp and just rub it in or comb through it. It's easy and doesn't take much. In response to static: if you aren't washing it everyday believe it or not you won't have as much. The smoothing serums also help with that issue (pureology or paul mitchell are my favorites). And in the winter months when it's extra dry I have been known to spray static guard on my hair. Seriously.

    Sara K: Don't know about the chlorine. Hmm... that's tricky. I've been thinking about swimming more too. I'll let you know if I find a solution.

    Tycia: Bumble and bumble has tinted dry shampoo. You should look into it. And yes, a hair day is in order.

    Lisa: Don't have tips for dry hair, but a good deep conditioning once in a while might help.

    Triciathomas: I know what you mean, but I actually think I feel prettier on day 2 and 3 sometimes. Weird?

    Janette: Thanks for stopping by. I'm on a quest to be a part of what's going on and not look frumpy while doing it... still a work in progress. But I understand how kids zap the life force and drain the "me time".

    S Rizzle: Believe it or not, I have a lot of hair too. It's fine though, which can be a blessing or a curse with styling. Yes, summer months are a little harder and they are coming. I've also used translucent powder.

    Thanks for stopping by girls!

  9. You have gorgeous hair! I would love to have hair like yours. I have very thin, fine hair. I have to wash it every day! I had to get some stitches on my head on Tuesday (nothing exciting to cause this), and the doctor made me wait until Thursday to wash my hair. It looked awful on Wednesday. I cannot skip a day with my hair. My daughter is blessed with gorgeous, curly hair. I try to wash it every 3 or 4 days. Her hair gets better with each passing unwashed day. Last week, she actually went a full week without a hair wash. Her hair looked fabulous on day 7! I couldn't believe it.

  10. Wonderful post, and I have no idea what you are talking about with your look FAB in every picture. I may have to de-follow this blog you look so great! :)

    Answers: I have super straight, fine, thin hair. No styling tools work on my hair. Actually, they work (esp. round brush), I get my hair to look rockin', and 20 minutes later it is flat again. I no longer waste my time with curling irons for this very reason. Curls fall out of my hair like rain falls out of the sky.

    The product I love best is Tigi Root Boost as when I use that, I stand a small chance of retaining some volume at my roots.

    I do wash my hair daily because I'm on the oily side. I can go a second day, but then I have to curl my hair and see above for that problem. I do like hats, and love ponytails, but my hair doesn't look good in a ponytail because, well, see above. It's thin and looks like a rat's tail. Hubs loves it that way, though.

    My biggest advice is go with what you have. I fought my straight hair for years and finally decided to stop trying to make it curly and bouncy and make the best of what I have!

  11. all pictures of your hair look great. It's funny because the only time I used to get compliments on my hair at work was when it was unwashed. Never made sense to me. But here's my thing about not washing hair everyday. I know hair stylists tell you not to. I've heard them say you can condition it, but not shampoo it. Most hairstylists recommend going as long as you can go. But blonde hair needs to be washed to be its best blonde. Without washing it (often,and I also use a purple shampoo to take out the brassiness),blonde hair starts to look dark, and like I told you, I am a blondorexic. Also, now that I'm working out, it's really hard. My hair gets disgustingly sweaty 3-5 times a week. But I think without that aspect, if you take the time to actually style it everyday, then it can look good. Like in your photos.

    You already know my hair. I can't totally complain. I actually think the issue is the shape of my head. hahahah. When I see people on tv that I like their hair, it's usually due to the shape of their head. Hard to explain.

    Long hair is hard. I wish I had THICKER hair. My hair is decently long right now but its in an awkward long stage. I like celebrities long hair (i know extensions) but a lot of their hair is so long and so pretty. I have myself convinced that if i just stick it out a bit longer my hair will be good.

    Interesting thing to post about. good job. :)

  12. What a fun post! I can't go more than 2 days without washing - I think the longest I've gone was 3. I have very thick, wavy hair, so either a lot of product is required, or a lot of ironing (BTW - love how you curled it w/a flat iron - I need to learn that!)

  13. I'm so glad that someone else has the guts to admit that daily hair washing is unnecessary! I DO NOT wash my hair daily. I do shower daily! Anytime I mention to someone that I don't wash my hair everyday, they seem to immediately think I don't wash the rest of me!

    I use Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit and Sugar Beet shampoo and conditioner. No products at all. I don't use a blow dryer or a curling iron either, but I do have a flat iron. I only use it if I'm going out.

  14. Cheryl: Have you ever tried using a flat iron to curl your hair? The curl stays in really well, days for me. Just a thought for thinner hair. Gives great volume. (Or a root volume product like Gigi talked about.)

    Gigi: Love you girl. Please come back! I am still a work in progress, but slowly getting it figured out only to have a new season to deal with (i.e. heat, humidity, etc). I wanted to tell you about this new product I just got called redken hot sets. Spray it on hair before styling and it helps set curls longer. My daughter has fine stringy hair and it makes a huge difference. I also have a root lifter, never used the tigi brand though. I really don't use it much- try to mimimize products for maximum days w/o washing.

    I think you need to get some cute hats and rock it. But I agree with what you are saying. I've fought the curls for years and am more recently trying to embrace them more. My spiral iron days are more enhancing what is already there, if that makes sense.

    Anna: You have great hair. I get what you are saying about the color issue with blondes, but I deal with it for a few extra moments of sleep. Plus if you work the dry shampoo right it can mask that issue a bit. I admit that is usually why day 3 is a hat day though. Have you curled it with a flat iron yet? If not you have to try it. You'd look great like that. And your head shape is fine. You crack me up.

  15. Rene: They have great irons at Ulta, Sally's, and Target- make sure you get a good one that gets really hot. It works great on all hair types. Kinda tricky to master though, but I have found great video tutorials online. Google it.

    Christine: You must have some good hair if you use nothing!! WOW. Yeah, I've had that response as well. I don't care anymore. It's better for me and makes my life easier. It's not like I'm a dirty person. Quite the contrary.

    Oh, and something I forgot to mention... I don't wear the cap when I sleep and because of that I change my pillowcase often.

  16. ok too cute!!!!

    I have ponytail hair - it does great in a ponytail - no wear else! I also HAVE to wash it every day or I am a greasy mess and cannot live in my own skin. I am for sure a ball cap with the ponytail out the back kind of gal - still need to wash it that night :)

    You look amazing! Awesome experiment!


  17. Your hair looks great. I need to wash my hair everyday :(

  18. Your hair looks great even on day 3...I'm so jealous!! I wash my hair every two to three days, depending if I'm planning on leaving the house or not ;)
    The one thing I couldn't do without is my flat iron. I couldn't survive without it!
    Another thing that works great on day 2 and 3 is good old baby powder on the roots of your hair and then just brush it through!

  19. this is just so funny because just this week I did 3 days no washing before it became unbearable - and yesterday I was thinking I need to buy some wide head bands to partially cover up the hair which looks like I never wash!!

    I'm thinking 2 days is my max.
    You have gorgeous hair!!

  20. My average is 3 days, but I try for 4 all the time. My hair is a gross wavy/ curly so I straighten it all the time. Day 1-2 I can wear it down after blow drying on day 1. Day 3 usually requires a side swept to one should kind of deal or a headband as my hair starts to get oily. Day 4, if I can make it, goes to the ponytail. Unfortunately, I'm not as creative or varied as you with my hair.

  21. First, how dare you look so good. Secondly, holy cow, I could've written this post! My hair changed so much with GG. I had stick straight hair and now it's a curly hot mess! I have very thick hair and my style is not a style at's a ponytail practically every day! I need a serious hair intervention! My hair texture has also changed from super soft to a bit brittle and dry! Ugh! I have an appointment next week. Hopefully I'll get some help. I need a new do!

  22. Holly: You are so lucky you look good in ponys and hats. Maybe my SIL is right and I'm plagued with an odd shaped head too?

    Nicki: Thanks for dropping in and don't sell yourself short.

    Natalie: Agreed. Flat iron is a staple.

    Gail: Buy some bands and hats and see if you can stretch it to 3 days. I dare you. Do you already use the dry shampoo?

    Melissa: Sounds like you have similar hair to mine and you have it figured out. Good for you.

    Shannon: You are funny. Goodluck on your hair intervention next week... we all need one of those from time to time. :)

  23. What a fun post! =)
    Since baby number 2 I have started to wash my hair only every other day. I got it chopped into a bob cut because I was wearing it in a messy ponytail/bun thing and my mom told me it looked terrible. Awesome, thanks mom. Ha ha! Anyway It's too much to blow dry and style everyday. However, I don't blow dry and style it anyway. =) (blushing) I just let it airdry. On day two it looks the best and if we are going somewhere important I take a large curling iron and run it through it real quick to make it look "nice".

    I'm stopping by from SITS on blog frog and I'm your newest follower. When you get a minute, stop by mine....

  24. I have really long, thick and straight hair so, honestly the only problem I have is tangles from a particularly windy day.

    I usually (as a single mom with a toddler) shower daily but my hair gets way too dry washing it every single day so I just let it get wet and do an actual shampoo and condition every third day. I never use gels, foams, sprays or stay in anything because it just annoys me, lol.

    And I probably get more compliments on my hair than anything else. I use to have an issue with it being really thick and fluffy but ever since I started dying it occasionally it stays sleek.

  25. Activity Mom: Thanks for dropping in. I stopped over at your blog too. Love the Mom Loop.

    Sarah: Can I just say I am SOOO jealous!! Sounds like you are a rare gem when it comes to hair. Lucky, lucky girl.

  26. You are sooo cute!

    I have hair like yours (gets courser with each pregnancy - and curlier), but yours is way cuter - I think we are our own worst critics. I wash my hair every 2-3 days. If I wash it everyday, it becomes a flyaway mess. No tricks of the trade - I don't have time.

  27. K- looks like you are going to have to do a tutorial on curling with a flat iron- seriously will you? tried it several times and it looks terrible. Love my chi- swear by them. none of the others did much to my wavy, thin, but lots of it hair.

    I am a 2-3 day hair washer. Dry shampoo is a must and just discovered it about a year ago- tried all brands and they all seem to do just the same. Never tried baby powder but might give it a try since it is cheap and have lots of it lying around our house.

    ahhh . . . can't say enough about headbands and accessories. Makes all the difference on day 3. Ponytail for sure on day 3 with a headband, flower, scarf, or some sort of somethin' to hind the grease and grime.

    I must admit- I am due- way overdue for a good cute and style. Doesn't that always make you feel like a new woman?

    Thanks for the great post. And ditto to everyone else- you have fabulous hair and always look gorgeous. Don't know how ya do it girl?

  28. Forgot to mention a little tip I often do:

    On day 2 and 3 I will sometime just do a quick wash of the bangs in the sink either before or after I shower= it really makes a huge difference having a fresh bang. And I love shower caps for sure too.

  29. my hair is a mess. I love this post. I have thick, fine hair.. although in the last year I have noticed some changes. It appears to be getting frizzy now ! URG! I use excellent shampoo and conditioner but it doesnt matter. Your hair looks so cute in those pictures by the way.

  30. So everyone asks me if Lisha is a nickname and short for something. Good to meet someone who can answer yes to that question cause I can't!

    My soccer man is 5.

    I also have SUPER CURLY hair from the baby hormones, but super straight on top and sides as well. I have been trying to follow the "Curly Girl" mantra (its a book I found) and keep it curly and let it do its natural thing. I have some ok days but a lot of really bad days. I am considering rethinking that one. They reccomend Not washing your hair either and NEVER using shampoo when you do. They have resipes for all these natural scrubs made from oatmeal, avacado and other fruits and vegys, but I have to admit I break down and use the real stuff once a week. I know only once a week. But it works and my hair is not oily.

    So long comment later, I am excitd to follow your blog!

  31. You crack me up...and you look amazing, too!! Me...not so much on the third day. I think my blonde hair gets darker as it gets dirtier. It just looks plain ole' dingey! In fact, I went a few days without washing my hair because of this crazy road trip and this morning I could have fried the eggs with the grease from my hair!!

  32. Alice: Thanks, but I have to really work it. I think a lot more people have hair like ours than I realized.

    Sarah: I'll think about the tutorial. Maybe I can get my sister to do it. We'll see. It makes a great curl that holds really well. Oh, and thanks for the tip.

    Shannon: What I've learned from the comments is that I think a lot of people aren't happy with their own hair... and it does seem to change (not always for the better) as we age.

    Lisha: So, that's really your name? Cool. I'm going to have to check out this "Curly Mantra".

    Julie: Your comment made me laugh out loud. Ah, the joys of being a woman!

  33. Great hair post! I have been wondering myself why my hair just keeps getting curlier every year. Thanks to your post I realized that after every baby I get more curls. I actually get ringlets in the back. My hair used to be poker straight as a kid. Now with baby 4 on the way I guess I am in store for more curls.

    Your hair looks great in all of those pictures! I wish I could go without washing my hair everyday, but I think it is just too oily to do. Maybe I will try one of the dry shampoos you suggested.

  34. No way ~ your hair is awesome. Me: fine, fine, baby fine. I have enough of it...enough for it to want to wave, but not really and just be overall fuzzy all the time.

    I stopped complaining about my hair when my friend, with a very young daughter, and a newborn son was diagnosed with breast cancer AND stage 4 metastasized cancer at the age of 33. It's all over her body (bone) and last year went through her 2nd round of chemo, losing her hair for time #2. She teaches me all sorts of things, like calming down and letting things go.

    (P.S. BTW, it doesn't make my hair any more full of body, however.)

  35. Wow Wonderful!!! you inspired me :)

  36. Ok - you just have terrific hair!!! :) I don't think I could ever pull it off...but you sure can. :)