Beauty + Hairstyles

The Working Girl’s Guide to Mastering Second-Day Hair

You’re getting ready for bed, and you stop to take a look at tomorrow morning’s calendar.  And there it is: the 8:00 AM breakfast meeting you forgot about.  Cold scrambled eggs and stale bagels, yum.  Now, you’re whole morning routine needs to be evaluated to make sure you arrive on time and look your best.  What’s a working girl to do?

Here’s how to make yesterday’s hairdo last for a second day.  Because being late is not an option.

Step 1. Dry Shampoo the Night Before.  Turn your head upside down and give yourself a light spritz of dry shampoo.  Brush it through.  Now spritz the brush with a bit of dry shampoo and run it through the hairline around your face (sideburns, bangs, etc.).

This little bit of spritz will absorb the oil that forms over night and leave your hair fresher in the morning.  If you have very dry hair, skip this step or apply dry conditioner sparingly.

My current favorite dry shampoo is made by Cake.  Another great option is Psssst.

{image via Matrix}

Step 2. Cap Up. To extend the life of your hairdo, you need to pull it up.  Some women use a scrunchie, but I’ve had the best luck with a shower cap.  Yes, like an old lady.  Yes, my boyfriend finds it totally hot.

This Shhhowercap is a total lifesaver.  It preserves the volume of your blowout, keeps the dirty hair off of your face, and reduces frizz.  Winning.  Plus, it’s antibacterial so you only have to toss it in the washer once a week or so.  Need a cheaper option?  The Drybar makes a shower cap.

Step 3. Rise and Roll.  Keep the shower cap on while you shower, and once you’re dry, get ready to touch up your style.

Mine typically needs a little more dry shampoo at the roots and a bit of hair oil just at the very ends.  I apply the dry shampoo (I’ll use the Cake if it’s a bit oily, or this DryBar foam if it just needs a hint of refresh) at the roots, and then load up my Conair hot rollers.  Rollers style your hair for you while you apply makeup and put on clothes, saving you time and energy.

Once the rollers are out, I flip my head upside down and spritz with firm hold hairspray.  (Currently using Tresemme.)  Then, I brush it out.  If my ends look a little dry, I’ll rub a small amount of this Tresemme oil into my palms and then work it through the ends of my hair.  (Seriously, just the ends!)

{image via Getty}

Step 4. Prep for Disaster. Okay, so you successfully cultivated second day hair that looks and feels great.  But what if that feeling only lasts for half the day?  Who hasn’t gotten to 3:00PM and had their second day hair fall flat?  And you need to be prepared for that possibility.

I used to keep a hair emergency kit in my desk.  It contained some brown hair elastics, a small can of dry shampoo, a card of bobby pins, a travel-sized brush, and a mini-hairspray.  If you can’t fix up your hair with that, it’s broke.

{image found at L’Oreal}

What’s your favorite trick for extending a hairstyle into a second day?  Or are you dedicated to a daily wash (or at least a rinse)?

{featured image found here; this post contains affiliate links that generate commission for the author}





  1. Mica says:

    This method only works for me when I straighten my v curly, v thick hair. My second day hair routine calls for a spray bottle of water and prayers to my deity of choice (Beyonce) that I look somewhat like a grown up.

    March 7, 2018/Reply
    • J says:

      Ditto–I still haven’t figured out a way to adopt this whole not-washing-your-hair/second-day-hair thing for my thick, curly hair (that I wear curly).

      Also, wrong “you’re”/”your” in the first paragraph…

      March 7, 2018/Reply
      • Yael @ Nosherium says:

        Ditto on the curly hair (though mine is thin). I’ve embraced that I will hardly ever wear second day hair down. Most of the time I just pull it up into a curly ponytail, sometimes I try a bun or twist, but there’s just no reviving the flattened parts. I also can’t stand dry shampoo, not only do I find it hard to rub in without destroying the curls, but it is itchy and way too scented.

        March 8, 2018/Reply
    • Sof says:

      I can’t make second-day hair work for me, either. My thick hair is straight, but the (many, many) hairs are very fine, so once they start to get oily it’s a disaster.

      March 7, 2018/Reply
      • Katie says:

        I have a similar hair type (thin, straight, but loads of it) and can’t seem to make second day hair work on a weekday. I have blonde hair too, so as soon as it’s oily it’s very visible.

        Weekends when I can pull it up in a ponytail and slap on a headband? No problem. But I’ve yet to master second day weekday hair.

        March 7, 2018/Reply
        • beth says:

          Same exact hair here! Only way I can do second day hair is in a french twist — a little dry shampoo and a little teasing at the roots and I’m good to go, but wearing it down never works for day two.

          March 7, 2018/Reply
      • Susan says:

        Completely agree. Plus I hate that “not fresh hair” smell all people get w 2nd day hair. Not super gross dirty but not clean smell.

        March 7, 2018/Reply
    • KLeigh says:

      I’m jealous of people who can do the second-day thing, but I can’t because my hair is CRAZY every morning. I have thick, wavy hair, but fine strands, and honestly I look like Cousin It every morning, except with wild cowlicks. It is like bedhead on drugs. Only a shower tames it.

      March 7, 2018/Reply
    • Jessica says:

      I also have very thick and curly hair but I have none of the problems listed above. I wash my hair twice a week and if I do anything between washes, it’s using water in a squirt bottle to reactivate the product. It does sound though like the shower cap would make my process in the morning even better.

      March 7, 2018/Reply
  2. Kim says:

    I’ve never used hot rollers! Maybe I should try them out.. I also love the idea of having an emergency hair kit!

    Kim — midi skirt on broadway!

    March 7, 2018/Reply
  3. J says:

    Such a fascinating discussion. I have long, dry wavy, and very thick hair that I blow out on Sunday night and leave as-is (maybe with a little dry shampoo) until Friday. I’ll usually wear it up on Friday because I’m pushing the envelope at that point.

    I knew that most people don’t go that long between washes, but I didn’t realize that some people do theirs every single morning. I’d definitely wimp out and end up with braids and buns as the norm if I were in those shoes.

    March 7, 2018/Reply
    • KLC says:

      Same here! I thought I was the lone ranger who was only washing her hair twice a week here. I can absolutely get through the work week only washing my hair once, and it actually looks better days 2-3 (not so much days 4-5).

      March 7, 2018/Reply
      • Belle says:

        I wish I could, my color would last so much longer, but my hair is so fine.

        March 7, 2018/Reply
  4. Sarah says:

    Wanted to clarify the order of things here–should we be wearing the shower cap to sleep? Or just while we shower?

    My problem is that my thick hair is fine for 2nd or 3rd day wear, but even with dry shampoo, my crown often falls flat. I’ve tried the Living Proof dry volume, but haven’t had any luck.

    March 7, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Both. Shower cap for sleep and leave it on while showering.

      Try spraying the roots while your head is upside down, and give it a little hit with a round brush and blow dryer. Might help. You also might try the foam dry shampoo instead, it does a little better on my roots than the powder, and no itching.

      March 7, 2018/Reply
      • Mandy says:

        Follow up question – what is your hair doing inside the cap? Piled on top of your head? Rolled up? Something else? Thanks!

        March 7, 2018/Reply
        • Belle says:

          I just pile mine up. If I’m struggling to keep it contained, a soft scrunchie in a top pony.

          March 8, 2018/Reply
  5. Liz says:

    Do you (or anyone else) have suggestions for dry shampoo for dark hair? All of the brands I’ve tried spray on white, which looks like dandruff on my hair, which is black.

    March 7, 2018/Reply
  6. Anna says:

    Tried this last night to preserve a blow out after getting my hair cut…must have slept like a wild person because woke up with wet hair full of curls–the cap (plastic one you get from a hotel) must have trapped in all of the heat and sweat. Gross. Will have to try a different cap!

    March 8, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Oh yeah, you need a cloth cap designed for this so it’s breathable. That cheap hotel plastic is going to trap every drop of moisture onto your head.

      March 8, 2018/Reply
  7. Christine S. says:

    I have very straight, very fine hair that gets visibly oily if I don’t wash it daily. I’ve basically resigned myself to getting up early every morning to wash it every day.

    March 8, 2018/Reply
  8. Mo says:

    Can you fix the link to the dry shampoo? I’d love to know your travel size of choice. Thanks!

    March 8, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I like the detox travel size from Drybar. Cake also makes a travel size, but it’s too big for my small desk pouch.

      March 8, 2018/Reply
  9. Allison says:

    To the ladies with fine/light hair who have issues with second-day hair because of oil buildup, I highly recommend using a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel to strip off some of the oil from your roots before applying dry shampoo.Let your roots dry (optional: apply volumizing spray and dry with a few blasts of cool air).Once your hair is completely dry, then do the dry shampoo.

    For me, this extra step means it doesn’t become a goopy mess and I can go three days in between washes sometimes. I have also used rubbing alcohol in a pinch but I try to avoid it because it’s a little more damaging. Fair warning, if you color-treat your hair this could fade/alter the color at the roots.

    March 8, 2018/Reply
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  11. Sarah says:

    I usually wash every 3rd day or so (so roughly twice a week).
    My hair is naturally not-always-cute wavy/curly. I shower at night, and half blow it out and then curl it in one direction the first morning after washing.
    Second day hair I can usually just spritz a little dry shampoo and brush it out and am good to go. (If I notice oil starting the night before I’ll usually work in a bit of baby powder.) Sometimes one side needs to be re-curled. I don’t sleep in a scrunchie unless it’s my natural curls.
    Third day is a crapshoot– sometimes I can still wear it down, or I’ll pull half up. Often this is the day I experiment with different up-dos.
    You have to train your hair and find what works for you. I find if I curl my hair all away from my face, or let it dry naturally, it gets wonky faster.

    March 29, 2018/Reply