Is Washing Only Parts of Your Hair a Good Idea? An Investigation

Because it's either the best or worst idea ever.

Washing hair
(Image credit: Getty Images, Design by Betsy Farrell)

The whole washing-a-certain-part-of-your-hair thing may not be foreign to women with bangs that are inherently more prone to grease. Giving 'em a quick cleanse over the sink yields fresh, feathery fringe without having to wash your entire head every day. But as of late, it seems even women without bangs are drawn to the idea of compartmentalizing the hair-washing process.

From fellow editors that swear by washing the front, face-framing parts of their hair to the launch of Pony Dry (opens in new tab), a condom-like wrap that keeps mids and ends dry while you wash your roots, I began to wonder if this was a sound lazy-girl hack or something the pros would shun us for.

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So I asked Kérastase Paris consulting hairstylist Matt Fugate to give it to me straight. And sadly for our time and patience, there are definitely downsides to "spot washing" your hair...

1. Your natural oils won't be evenly distributed. "When you do this, you will lose luster and shine," he explains. (Yikes.) "You will also end up overproducing oil by stripping your scalp." (Double yikes.)

2. Your hair isn't being thoroughly cleansed. "When you spot clean versus washing the entire head, you're probably not getting all the shampoo out," he says. "This ultimately causes more buildup of product and can result in a greasy look." If you have this type of buildup, look to a hair scrub, like Kérastase Gommage Chronologiste, to exfoliate and slough off the excess product and sebum. It's essentially a facial for the scalp.


(Image credit: Marie Claire)

Kérastase Gommage Chronologiste The Gommage Treatment, $44; (opens in new tab).

3. Your texture will be uneven. "Your styling will be uneven from the roots compared to the ends and will look like two different hairstyles," he warns. In other words, you could have a Making-a-Murderer-hairstyle-Tumblr-worthy moment (opens in new tab) on your hands.

4. You're damaging the most vulnerable parts of your hair. "You will create breakage and compromise your hair's elasticity by overworking the finest parts of your hair."

If you are going to spot wash your hair, you should only do so in a pinch and with a salon-shampoo-bowl style nozzle head so that you can pinpoint the water and evenly rinse product out, says Fugate.

Moral of the story? Unless you have bangs that are in dire need of a refresh, you shouldn't be resorting to this technique. As the pitfalls of overusing dry shampoo (opens in new tab) have taught us, you just can't hack healthy hair.

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.