We're all for adding an extra day or two in between shampooing. It frees up our mornings, adds a cool second-day grit to our hair, and even helps hold certain styles in place better than clean hair. The only issue is, after a day too many (depending on your hair), things start to look a little less effortless and a little more, well, greasy. But here's the silver lining: There are cool, on-trend styles that look better with dirty hair and disguise the fact that you've forgone a wash entirely. Lazy girls, rejoice.
"I never say disguise your hair; I say optimize your look," says Gina Rivera, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites. "The second day of wear is a great time to use hair accessories such as scarfs, hats, barrettes, and yes, even wigs. Wigs can be super fun if you want to really get out of your box!"
We spoke to Rivera and cosmetologist Whitney White, who shared that with the right tools, accessories, and inspiration up your sleeve, you can create an elevated look that complements your unwashed hair.
Meet the Expert
- Gina Rivera is a celebrity hairstylist and the founder of Phenix Salon Suites.
- Whitney White is a licensed cosmetologist and owner of Melanin Haircare.
And for future record: Second-day hair doesn't have to be a problem. If you struggle to go a day without washing your hair, it may be time to break that habit. If you wash your hair more frequently your scalp will produce more sebum (oil) because it is being stripped of its natural oils. Cutting back on washing frequency can help your scalp relax into a more natural sebum-producing cycle. Try switching to an every-other-day washing schedule for happier, healthier hair. This will make day-two hair less of a problem in the future.
Keep reading to find the 22 most covetable styles and why they're perfect for second (or third-day) hair.
Turn your bedhead into a chic bun. Swept back with a hint of product will hide any lingering grease, and pulling out a few face-framing pieces will help maintain that undone feel.
Rivera recommends braids, topknots, buns, and ponytails as go-to hairstyles for second-day hair. "If hair is dirty, these styles will tend to hold longer because second-day hair is not as soft as when you first wash and dry it. Hair that is less soft is also less likely to lose its hold or slip out of place," she says.
Braids add enough texture to your hair to disguise grease and they're a great way to keep hair off your face when you just can't. Add a few barrettes to mask how dirty your roots are—we promise, no one will be able to tell.
Tousled French Twist
"Decorative head wraps and large decorative headbands will help to hide any birds’ nests, oil slicks, [and] frizz happening behind them," says White.
A smooth French twist on shiny, clean hair feels a bit too prim and proper. Instead, work with the natural texture you get with day-three hair, and sweep it over into a slightly undone twist.
Twisted Low Bun
Simply pulling your hair back when it isn't at its best may be the oldest trick in the book, but only because it is so effective. However, this look ups the ante by twisting two sections of a low ponytail, then pinning them back up into the nape of the neck for a funnel cake-type look.
White recommends the low bun as an easy and chic hairstyle for dirty hair. "It can be achieved on both dry coily hair and oily straight hair," she says, "There are also many different variations on the look, but just be sure you don’t style it too tightly so that you don’t sacrifice the health of your hair—this is where proper products and tools will be your friend."
'60s Half Pony
This sleek, tight half ponytail is given the perfect amount of retro flare with flipped-out ends. Use a flat iron and gradually tilt upwards as you get to the ends to recreate the look.
A dirty hair day is no match for space buns, especially if you're sporting curly hair. Make them oversized for a more playful vibe (and to conceal oily ends).
Half Space Buns
Coarse, curly hair doesn't necessarily need dry shampoo, especially as this hair type tends to be dryer and therefore only requires about one wash per week. However, vlogger Bianca Renee found that IGK's Jet Lag ($32) and First Class Dry Shampoo ($32( gave even her already voluminous curls mega volume at the root (watch the video and see the difference for yourself).
Boost your own roots with a few spritzes, then part the hair down the middle and gather buns on either side of the part just at the top of the head while leaving out the bulk of the hair around the face and on the bottom half of the head.
Dry shampoo can be a godsend for silk-pressed hair, but rather than trying to hide that oily sheen we get when our hair is dirty, this style proves that it can look sleek—not greasy. Fight the urge and opt to work with the oil, which will make it easier to form into an architectural ponytail like this one. The result is chic, sleek, and extremely flattering.
For this look, start with a little dry shampoo beforehand. (We love Jen Atkin's innovative Ouai Super Dry Shampoo, $26). With dry shampoo evenly distributed throughout your hair, use the tips of your fingers and begin to massage it in. Using your fingers to massage in the dry shampoo will help to more evenly distribute it throughout your roots.
Once you've thoroughly massaged the dry shampoo in, let it sit for three to five minutes. This gives the dry shampoo time to absorb the sweat and sebum. After the brief wait period, style by gathering the top layer of hair into a messy knot. Tie it at the crown of your head (where it is most oily) to fake volume.
Sometimes, adding a barrette or pin can not only distract from your dirty hair but can also help give it some volume. Use your fingers to loosely pull back half of your hair and secure it with a pretty barrette or metal accessory.
Luckily, day-two hair is often easier to work with, especially if you naturally have fine hair. "On day two, the hair tends to have a bit more volume and texture," Rivera explains. "This is especially true if products are used the day before which makes styling quicker." Bonus points for easier styling as there's a good chance that if you don't have time to wash then you don't have time for an elaborate (and time-consuming) hairstyle.
Sleek and Free
Slicked-back hair isn't only appropriate for ponytails, particularly if you're getting ready for a night out. Just brush and slick down with a layer of your favorite loose-hold pomade. If necessary, you can straighten after brushing just don't brush through again once things are slick—it'll show up as little lines.
"A good smoothing boar brush is also key for getting your hair as smooth and sleek as possible," White says in response to getting the most from your second-day hair. We recommend using a boar bristle brush when prepping your hair for this look. Using a boar bristle brush will evenly distribute the natural oils in your hair from roots to tips. This acts as a conditioning agent for shinier, sleeker hair.
Bubble braids give all the Princess Jasmine vibes. The best part? The style is so easy to achieve—after creating a ponytail, mark off even sections with a hair tie (or pieces of fabric, like in the photo above) until you get to the ends.
Topknot With Face-Framing Pieces
A little extra grease on your roots will actually serve you well with this style. Gather your hair into a ponytail at the top of your head, leaving out two small pieces on either side of the face (a rat tail comb will help you expertly separate the pieces). Then, secure with a bungee elastic (they hold a much tighter ponytail than a regular hair tie) and twist the ponytail into a topknot, securing it with bobby pins. "You definitely need bobby pins; you can never have enough bobby pins," White recommends.
Accessorized High Side Pony
A '90s-esque high pony worn off to the side with snap clips gives all the nostalgic feels. To achieve this simple look, simply gather your hair into a high pony. But, instead of centering it, gather the hair slightly to the right or left of where a center part would lay depending on your preferred look. Just be sure not to position the pony too far forward on your head.
Once you're happy with the position and your hair is secured with a band, reach for your favorite accessories. We recommend snap clips to pin back pesky strands of hair that won't stay put. Go with bold, bright, or sparkly clips to make a statement, or keep the look reserved with natural colors and tortoiseshell patterns.
To achieve this look, simply part your hair in the middle and create an inside-out French braid down both sides. And don't worry—any mess will look intentional.
Slicked-back low pigtails and beautifully laid edges? Yes, please.
Pull off the look by combing your hair into a side part and securing each pigtail at the nape of your neck. Use hair gel or pomade for sleek strands that scream off-duty supermodel. Then call in a product like Creme of Nature Argan Oil ($5) and use an edge tamer to slay your baby hairs.
Embrace the grease and slick back your style, creating a deep side part that's pinned back with several bobby pins on the side with less hair. Use a curling iron to wave out the opposite side, and your unwashed hair will look like a red-carpet moment.
This one is easy, particularly if you have thin hair. Just put a headband on, roll your hair starting from one side, and tuck the rolled hair over and around into the headband. If it falls, use a bobby pin or two to secure it.
Dry shampoo has the power to really boost your roots, even when your hair isn't dirty. Use the product to your advantage to help create a super voluminous wavy ponytail by first wrapping small sections around a curling iron to create chic waves, then spritz your roots with dry shampoo. Tackle your hair in sections, spraying directly onto the root of your hair. You should try to avoid spraying any onto your scalp as it can cause your skin to dry out, resulting in a tight and itchy sensation. If you have darker hair, you should shop for a dry shampoo that won't leave a white residue behind.
Rivera recommends Moroccan Oil dry shampoos as an excellent go-to for avoiding white residue. She says, "I love the fact they have a dry shampoo for lighter tones as well as darker tones. This is especially beneficial for dark hair as the tone of the hair can be matched as well."
With the dry shampoo properly worked into your hair, fluff up your strands with your fingers, and finally gather it all into a high pony.
For this low-effort style, just start a French braid on one side of your head and let it swoop to the other side, working across.
Pull back the underside of your hair into a ponytail with an elastic, and separate the top into two separate pigtail-like sections. Twist the sections, crossing them over the elastic on the ponytail, then under. Tuck both sections into the elastic.
How do you jazz up a basic ponytail? With an elegant clip, of course. Snap one of these on right at the top of the ponytail for a little extra flair that will take about 0.5 seconds tops.
Go Ask Alice! How often to wash hair? Updated June 21, 2019.