The Dirty Hair Trend: Tried and Tested


Founding member of Take That, Gary Barlow, has recently revealed that he has not shampooed his hair in fourteen years. This, erm, surprising tweet has contributed to an ongoing internet debate as to often we should all be washing our hair. 

So Gary Barlow hasn’t washed his hair since 2003, apparently, but I still have questions. What does he mean he hasn’t washed his hair in fourteen years?! He hasn’t shampooed his hair or he has not allowed his hair to be in any contact with water for fourteen years? Because if it’s the latter (or should I say lather…puns), then that is a feat in itself. But surely, he’s gone swimming or been in the rain in the past decade? So many variables can affect how often a person chooses to wash their hair: hair type, how they generally like their hair to look and how much time they have to spare, to name a few.

The tweet in question. Credit: Twitter @GaryBarlow

We’ve been told for decades to wash our hair ‘regularly’ with shampoo, shown with this advertisement for ‘Blue Crystal Shampoo’ from the 1960s. It is the accepted way that we clean our hair and scalp. However, is this really even necessary at all? The debate of the benefits of not washing your hair has incorporated all different voices, from people with first-hand experiences to scientists.

Credit: Flickr

Patrick Graham from Gloucestershire, stopped shampooing twenty five years ago (no thanks). He explained that he “had problems with dandruff” and his hair was worse “for about two weeks” but soon after it felt “clean and nice” and he hasn’t had dandruff since. However, despite the ‘No ‘poo’ trend being supported by individuals with first-hand experience, those with more ‘trustworthy’ voices often contradict this.

Mark Coray, former president of the National Hairdressers’ Federation, says there is no benefit for “the hair’s oil may build up so it looks shiny but it will not self-clean.” His point is that it may look nice but it’s dirty, basically. Also, Annabel Kingsley, a trichologist (the science of human hair) also wants us to “imagine if you didn’t wash your face or underarms for a week – the same logic applies to your hair and scalp.”

Considering this, it seems more of an individual preference of who you want to trust: those who have benefitted from it from personal experience or those who specialise in the subject?

I decided to give the ‘No ‘poo’ trend my best shot and it was…a trying time. I usually wash my hair every three days but I was interested to see if my hair would get worse and worse or simply keep up the same level of oils. Overall I lasted from Saturday night to Thursday morning, four and a bit days in total: a poor attempt. But, honestly, it was grease-tastic. I understand this was not the best experiment as it is a change in your hair that supposedly takes a few weeks to regulate but I don’t think I could last that long to find out!

I also think that there is a definite ‘gender’ difference within this debate because, in my mind, a typical boy’s hair wash routine is to fling his head under the shower, bung on some 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner (*shudders*), shake his head like an English Sheepdog and off he pops for his day of sitting on the sofa playing FIFA. Five minutes tops, bam. Done. Also, I feel like I rarely notice boys having greasy hair on a day-to-day basis, so either they’re all meticulously keeping up with their hair care routines (unlikely) or boys’ hair just doesn’t seem to be as high maintenance as girls. Gary Barlow’s fourteen years are becoming less and less shocking/impressive.

As a girl, my personal hair care routine is ever so slightly more complex than boys’. I have thick, frizzy hair so the twentyish minutes of washing time and hours upon hours of air-drying time must be taken into account when I plan my hair washing days that week. I use special ‘De-Frizz’ shampoo, matched with the conditioner and a moisturising hair mask. Trust me, the ends of my hair are naturally straw like for some reason even though I feel like I’m spraying them with oil every second of my day. I come out of the shower, apply heat damage spray all over and oil to the ends and pray that tomorrow morning will be the day I awaken with silky ends. However, I’m still waiting for this beautiful, fictional morning.

Initially, I was simultaneously shocked and disgusted by Barlow’s tweet but the more thought I’ve put into it is that, for boys, hair washing is simply not a priority. Run your fingers through it in the rain and you can last another week. Whereas, for girls (or just my hair), I could not go fourteen years without shampooing!

I encourage you to give this a go…maybe it’ll work for you?


Lifestyle Editor 2017/18. English student. I love exploring new trends in fashion and makeup but still refuse to attempt winged eyeliner.

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