The human body is nothing if not adaptable. We can condition our muscles to lift hundreds of pounds of weights and reset our circadian rhythms to match different time zones worldwide. It was only a matter of time before hair enthusiasts realized they could give greasy hair a little tutorial on how to behave. Enter: Hair training, a hair care method that calls for less washing to curb oil overproduction.
Also known as oil training, you may have seen this practice making the rounds on social media platforms like TikTok. These videos often hook you with a headshot of someone with enviously shiny hair who explains that their locks haven’t seen a shower in a whopping 13 days. While this two-week stretch is undoubtedly on the extreme end of the trend, many agree that training hair does hold some weight, so we tapped Miami-based dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD FAAD, to give us the low-down. Read on for everything you need to know about how to train your hair, and 18 of Hair.com’s best non-drying shampoos to help you along during those few and far-between wash days.
What does training your hair mean?
“Oil training your hair is when you [purposely] put off time in-between hair washes,” says Dr. Chacon.
You may be wondering why someone would willingly walk around with a dirty mane in the name of hair health, but the theory behind hair training is relatively easy to grasp.
“By doing this, your hair will not be stripped of its natural oils, and over a longer period of time, your sebaceous glands will not feel the need to overproduce oil to make up for what is lost (in terms of natural oils) when you wash or cleanse your hair.”
Does training your hair actually work?
Similar to topics like hair growth, there are several factors to take into account when it comes to evaluating hair training results. While one person’s week-old tresses may look like they just received a professional blow-out, someone else’s hair may look stringy or dry two days after their last shampoo.
“Hair training can work for most hair textures, but it is not for everyone,” says Dr. Chacon. “People with thicker or curlier hair might benefit from washing their hair once or twice a week because natural oil and products may be needed to style it.”
There’s another caveat to consider if training hair is on your radar. When we shampoo, oil isn’t the only thing that needs rinsing from our scalp. Bacteria, product residue, pollution, and dead skin cells also require removal; if not, they can build up around hair follicles and cause folliculitis, aka itching and inflammation that can lead to hair loss.
The benefits may outweigh the cons as long as you give your scalp a thorough cleaning when you do finally suds up. Dr. Chacon points out that washing your hair less can decrease a dry scalp and breakage while minimizing heat damage if you’re a one-and-done styler.
How long does it take to train your hair?
“It can vary depending on the hair texture, genetics, and weight of the hair. If hair is finer, it can appear more oily,” explains the dermatologist. “In some people, [hair training] can take a few weeks, and in others, it can take months.”
How do I begin to train my hair?
If you’re willing to embrace greasy hair for the sake of your future self, there are a few tips that can help make the transition more manageable.
Ease into it.
You may be eager to jump into hair training, but Dr. Chacon cautions that quitting your entire hair wash routine cold turkey isn’t the way to go. “Oil training has to be done slowly over time because not washing your hair can cause bacteria overgrowth or hair loss due to clogged follicles with sebum and other debris.” She suggests adding an extra day between your washes every month or two, gradually building up to a more extended period.
How long you go between washes depends on your hair type and texture. That said, a general rule of thumb to train hair is to wash it every three to four days, instead of daily or every other day. Not sure how often your greasy hair needs a cleaning? Check out our guide here.
“It is beneficial to shampoo twice when starting out to make sure you remove all the build-up,” says Dr. Chacon. “Make sure when you wash your hair that you [use] a good cleansing shampoo that is clarifying but not drying.”
Condition your ends.
“Avoid getting conditioners on your roots, as it may make the hair appear oiler and necessitate a wash sooner than expected,” adds the dermatologist.
Avoid harsh ingredients.
The whole point of training hair is to keep the scalp from overproducing oils due to harsh, drying ingredients. So, in addition to washing less, you can train your scalp to produce less oil by not using shampoos and other products that make your scalp feel stripped and parched. This is one of the most important keys to keeping greasy hair at bay.
Embrace new hairstyles.
We know how tempting it is to look at unwashed hair and feel the urge to jump in the shower, but that’s where greasy hairstyles come in handy! Pretty headbands, scarves, updos, and other accessories ensure nobody's the wiser regarding your new hair washing habits (or lack thereof!).
Now that you know the basics of how to train your hair, we rounded up our favorite shampoos that help gently clean and purify the scalp, no matter where you are in your hair training journey.
Our 18 Best Shampoos to Use While Hair Training
Biolage Professional All-In-One Shampoo Scrub with Oat
Similar to how we exfoliate our face to brighten up dull skin, a scalp scrub like Biolage Professional All-In-One Shampoo Scrub with Oat provides countless benefits for your mane. The formula removes impurities, excess oil, and product build-up from the scalp while adding moisture to the scalp and hair.
Kérastase Specifique Bain Divalent Shampoo
Hair training or not, if you’re prone to oily roots, Kérastase Specifique Bain Divalent Shampoo is a must-have on your shower shelf. It deeply cleanses and purifies the scalp by removing excess oil and odor—a big bonus when your hair smells less than fresh by day three or four.
Matrix Total Results High Amplify Root Up Wash Clarifying Shampoo
If your goal is to wash hair once a week, reach for Matrix’s Total Results High Amplify Root Up Wash Clarifying Shampoo to banish build-up at the root sans weighing fine hair down.
Mizani Moisture Fusion Clarifying Shampoo
Textured hair will drink up Mizani’s Moisture Fusion Clarifying Shampoo, which gives hair a thorough cleanse but won’t strip strands of moisture or shine. Your revitalized scalp and bouncy curls will be proof!
Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo
A cream shampoo like Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Clarifying Shampoo purifies your hair, removing excess oils, pollution residue and build-up of product. Your strands will be left with strengthened cuticles and added shine.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo
Struggle with dry hair between wash days? Shu Uemura Art of Hair’s Cleansing Oil Shampoo will make you a believer in the power of an oil shampoo. Made with delicate ingredients, this oil transforms into a rich foam that’ll gently remove impurities and buildup without stripping the scalp of its natural oils.
Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Matrix Total Results Keep Me Vivid Sulfate-Free Shampoo is ideal for those with vivid hair color. Its sulfate-free formula produces a milky, high-foam lather that gently cleanses.
Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Sulfate-Free Strengthening Shampoo
Reinforce weakened bonds and sensitized hair due to the lightening process with Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Sulfate-Free Strengthening Shampoo. The highly conditioning shampoo is designed to revive all types of lightened hair and strengthen weakened bonds of all hair types and textures.
Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo
Free of both silicone and sulfates, Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo is a winner for fine, color-treated hair since it hydrates and cleanses without weighing hair down. Plus, the brand’s exclusive Antifade Complex® will also help keep your salon color vibrant and shiny.
Pureology Strength Cure Best Blonde Purple Shampoo
Looking for a solid anti-brass shampoo that won’t strip hair? Try Pureology Strength Cure Best Blonde Purple Shampoo. This purple shampoo works to brighten, tone, and fortify damaged and lightened color-treated hair.
Pureology Smooth Perfection Shampoo
Frizz and flyaways are no match for Pureology’s Smooth Perfection Shampoo. This vegan, sulfate-free formula is made with ingredients like shea butter and camellia and smooths frizzy, color-treated hair so it’s tamed and manageable.
Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo
Strengthening ingredients like keravis and astaxanthin in Pureology’s Strength Cure Shampoo fortify and repair damaged hair while providing a gentle, rich lather.
Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo
Good hair days are ahead if you add Pureology’s Pure Volume Shampoo to your arsenal. Not only will the sulfate-free formula give you a boost of volume, but it will also protect the vibrancy and shine of salon color.
Pureology Nanoworks Gold Shampoo
Aging hair needs some extra TLC, and you can’t go wrong with Pureology’s Nanoworks Gold Shampoo. The rich, sulfate-free formula is made with keravis and golden marula oil to restore softness, manageability, and shine to dull, advanced color-treated hair.
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
If your mane battle is against dryness, Pureology Hydrate Shampoo can give you peace of mind. Containing ingredients like jojoba, green tea, and sage, this shampoo kicks off your hair care routine with intense moisture.
Kérastase Discipline Bain Fluidealiste Sulfate Free Shampoo
Kérastase’s Discipline Bain Fluidealiste Sulfate Free Shampoo gently cleanses and weightlessly gets hair to cooperate while taming frizz and making strands more resistant to humidity.
Biolage Professional Advanced Keratin Dose Strengthening Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Got damage? Get your hands on Biolage Professional Advanced Keratin Dose Strengthening Sulfate-Free Shampoo. Perfect for overprocessed hair, the sulfate-free lather gently cleanses while pro-keratin and silk provide targeted reinforcement and moisture balance to the hair and prevents future breakage.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair
If you want to go above and beyond for your color-treated hair, Shu Uemura Art of Hair Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair fits the bill. The sulfate-free shampoo's refining lipids mimic the hair's natural protective varnish to insulate the cortex from water and other external stress factors, so strands receive extra care. The result: Clean hair with a brilliant glaze.
Looking for more professional products to add to your hair training routine? Everything you need can be found at Hair.com.