5 Must-Know Rules for Styling Second-Day Hair (Because Who Has Time to Shower Every Day?)

Lauren Phillips

If you’re going to go a day (or more) between washes, you’re going to want to take a little extra care with your hair. Here’s how.

It’s 2019: We all know we don’t have to wash our hair every day, and any good hair care routine features a healthy quantity of dry shampoo. In this enlightened age for hair, going a day or two (or more) between washes can help hair stay moisturized and healthy, but it also means figuring out how to style second-day hair.

Contrary to popular belief, if hair hasn’t been freshly washed, it does need special treatment. Treating your second-day hair like it’s fresh from the shower can damage it, undoing all the benefits of skipping every-day washes. Some second-day hairstyles are heat-free, but if you’re planning to straighten, curl, crimp, or otherwise apply heat to keep your second-day hair looking fresh, you’re going to want to follow these tips from stylist Koni Bennett.

1. Don’t do a second blow-dry

You probably blow-dry hair after a shower to give it a smooth finish. Blow-drying hair adds volume, can reduce frizz, and lets you shape hair a little without the harsher heat of a flatiron or curling tool. Blow-drying second-day hair—even though it’s already dry—might seem like a good idea to give possibly flat strands a fresh look, but the extra heat can singe those strands and cause damage to parts of hair that actually don’t need the heat or extra attention.

2. Shape it in sections

Instead of re-heating all your hair with a blow-dryer on day two, section it out into the parts that have fallen flat or crimped funnily and those that are just fine. Apply a hot tool only to the sections that truly need it to limit heat damage and keep the whole head of hair as moisturized as possible.

3. Absorb oil before you style

Regardless of how much you exercise (or don’t), oil is going to collect in your hair, particularly at the roots. A little natural oil never hurt anyone, though too much will make your hair look greasy (a good sign that it’s time to wash your hair). Before you re-style second-day hair, make sure it’s as clean as possible—this is where your go-to dry shampoo comes in handy. Follow the product’s instructions and be sure to brush or finger-comb the dry shampoo through your hair to apply it evenly, getting rid of as much oil as possible.

Related: 10 Dry Shampoos That Will Keep Your Hair Looking Fresh in Between Washes

Applying heat tools to hair with even a little bit of oil in it can cook the oil, cooking your hair in the process. Take extra care to apply dry shampoo if you plan to straighten or curl part of your hair, and if you’ve exercised, pay special attention to your roots (especially at your neck), where sweat and oil tend to collect.

4. Don’t add more heat protectant

It sounds counterintuitive, but adding more heat protectant to dry, second-day hair can actually cause more harm than good. If you applied a heat protectant before styling your wet, fresh-from-the-shower hair, you’re good to go; that protectant will still be there to protect your hair. Adding more can just make hair oilier and give any heat tools more opportunities to cook your hair—literally. (Just like in the kitchen, oil plus heat equals cooking time.) Instead, once you’ve applied dry shampoo, use a moisturizing or re-hydrating mist—Bennett recommends Dove Care Between Washes Restyler Re-Hydrating Mist (To buy: $5; walmart.com)—to rehydrate and moisturize hair without adding cook-able oil.

5. Preserve hair at night

Whether you’re planning to go two days or four days or a whole week (some people do it) between hair washes, you’re going to want to preserve your style from day to day as much as possible. This means, at night, you want to do something to help limit oil accumulation and prevent crimps, folds, and other lumps that form in your hair in the night. If you want to add texture, consider braids (learning how to braid hair is easy if you don’t already know how). If you want to preserve a blowout or curls, put your hair in a loose bun at the top of your head at night. With any luck, your hair will look salon-fresh in the morning.