Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Shampoo Goes Upscale

 The Unwashed took a vote; she's our new representative.

We, the Unwashed, have gone haute: W magazine has a piece about not washing one's hair; the writer went six weeks* without shampoo and chronicled her results—it's a well-written piece worth checking out. I'd also like to confess that I have been skirting the issue that the writer ends on: Yes, your hair can smell a little funky after a week of not rinsing it. But in my case it really does take a week, and so I just rinse it. I've entrusted my boyfriend with the task of gently breaking it to me if I ever really need to just wash up already (all of you are far too genteel to use the word scalpy** when referring to my essence, I know).

As for my update: My hair looks better than ever, especially once I decided to really rock the bedhead look and tease it a bit, with some Bumble & Bumble hair powder in for good measure. It doesn't feel as silky with the texturizing powder in, but it makes me feel just un peu de rock star, so I'll keep it. I also took a big leap and got my first haircut since quitting the shampoo. I'd rinsed my hair the night before so I wasn't presenting the stylist with a week's worth of grease and hair powder buildup, and I just asked them to only wet my hair instead of shampoo it. Nobody thought twice about it. And stylists usually comment on how healthy my hair is (I don't color it, that's pretty much my secret), but this time engendered raves.

I'm only now realizing that as fascinated as people are with the whole no-shampoo thing, nobody could seem to care less about the fact that my face has gone unwashed for the same amount of time. I don't know why that is—back when I was using soap/shampoo, I was much more likely to skip a day of shampooing than I would be of face wash. Maybe it's because plenty of men don't use soap on their faces, so it doesn't seem as out-there? Or because people have all sorts of ways we wash our faces—bar soap, liquid soap, creams, foams, even oils and grit powders—so it doesn't seem as drastic? Or maybe because you can look at my face and immediately tell there is absolutely nothing different about it, whereas hair requires a bit more investigation—an investigation that's potentially intimate for both parties? (Only one friend has admitted to covertly sniffing my hair while hugging me.)

In any case, now that W is catching on I feel, for the first time ever, like a trendsetter. Be on the lookout for other Autumn Whitefield-Madrano maverick moves: Quit shopping and wear the same five thrifted cashmere sweaters in Monday-to-Friday rotation until they die a proud, pilled death! Master the art of subway-sleeping so that you can get away with a smaller purse because there's no book in it! Transform your nervous habits to your beauty advantage—have you ever seen a pair of lips more exfoliated than mine? All you have to do is rub, dahling!

Thanks to No More Dirty Looks for the tipoff!

*The word wimp seems unkind, but I'm coming up on six months here, people.
**You wouldn't notice this unless you were, say, a month into not washing your hair while reading it, but The Corrections contains the phrase "scalpy smell" no less than three times. (I skimmed over all the Lithuania stuff so it could be even more.) Perhaps Jonathan Franzen is a secret devotee?


  1. Did you learn nothing about the hierarchy of shampoo qualities from your 7th grade science project? Mr. Brown said you can't argue with a properly executed "PIHEC".

  2. OMG, I've wanted to stop washing my hair since I was 12! The secret is out!

  3. I have posted anonymously to preserve your dignity and privacy. Your hygiene issues can remain between you and everyone who is downwind of the 'scalpy' aroma wafting through the subway tunnel. :)

  4. Certainly! It's the American thing to do, especially in this economy.

  5. Mr or Mrs Anonymous is not so nice..

    i doubt you reek :)

  6. Why, thank you! I hope I don't either! I've entrusted my boyfriend with gently breaking the news to me if ever I should need a nudge toward the shampoo. (I DO cleanse myself, after all...)

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