It's mostly my fault, sure. But, to be fair, my dad has been balding since the ’70s, so he didn't give me much in the way of advice besides "Wash it." And so I did...every day...for my entire life.
You know how some people have a "baby face"? I think I have that but "baby hair.” My hair has always been, as my barber kindly calls it, "delicate.” The truth is it's thin. Because of this, I haven't ever really changed my hairstyles so much as just changed my hair length.
Around 2011, a girl in college told me that one way not to look like a guy who sleeps in his gaming chair is to part my hair to the side, and that's pretty much the only innovation I've done hair-wise...until a couple weeks ago.
During a brainstorm with other writers at BuzzFeed, the subject of hair came up, and I (stupidly) casually mentioned I wash my hair every day. My female coworkers were shocked and appalled. It suddenly became amateur night at the Apollo. I was roasted, shamed, slandered, and ridiculed into being more cognizant of my appearance.
At the request of Old Spice, I, a branded writer at BuzzFeed, challenged myself to not wash my hair every day (while still showering) and to use their brand-new dry shampoo on my unwashed "second hair days.”
I woke up the first day as I usually do: sopping wet. I sweat buckets almost every night to the point that, most mornings, the bed my girlfriend and I share looks like a still-damp beach after high tide. My night sweats alone should be cause enough for my gal to end it with me, but today, after my shower, I forced her to wake up early on her day off and stand in the corner of our bathtub to take a picture of me applying dry shampoo for the first time.
Luckily for our relationship, an added bonus of living with me is that you get to occasionally witness me accidentally inflict cartoonish violence upon myself. For example, when I preemptively closed my eyes, causing me to spray dry shampoo all over every part of me except my hair.
Anyway, I eventually got the stuff onto my head, combed it to spread it around, and made it to work. The light in my office is pretty good, so I decided to take a selfie and see how my hair fared during my commute and noticed something...unusual.
...is that the elusive "volume"? On MY head? As a kid, I idolized old-timey showbiz pompadours, and although mine was admittedly pretty puny, it was wild to have my own mini coif resting on my head like a small-plate dessert at a fancy party.
How did it feel? Refreshingly cool. When I first applied it I was a little worried because I could visibly see it in my hair like very fine snow, but then I remembered combs exist and that helped.
Public consensus: Maybe it's because I was forced to comb my hair for the first time in years, but my girlfriend said I looked "nice." Also, no one at work told me I looked and smelled like someone who has been marinating in his own sweat all night and then didn't wash his hair, so I guess that's a win.
Saturdays are the day where, after an hours-long two-on-one Brazilian jiujitsu match between me, my bed, and my phone, I bring myself out of a submission hold and drag myself to the gym.
Being a sweaty boy has its perks. When I arrive to the gym already coated in a layer of night sweat, nobody bats an eye. For all they know, this is my second workout of the day. Like, maybe I worked out earlier, left the gym, decided I wasn't fulfilled by the first workout, and hit up another gym on my way home just to feed my muscles' insatiable hunger for reps.
Anyway, here's what I look like after an almost-20-minute workout:
So, yeah, I basically look like a Labrador retriever that spent its day writhing in a puddle of air conditioner condensation. (FTR, I usually put a decent amount of hours between looking like this and appearing with my friends and loved ones in public.)
Unfortunately, I spent a little longer in bed than I thought. It was already 4 p.m., and I had agreed to meet my roommate and his girlfriend at a bar in an hour.
So, I made it home, made a smoothie while my hair dried, sprayed the dry shampoo in my hair, and somehow left the apartment not looking like a pirate leaving the crow’s nest. I actually...looked pretty decent?
The night went off without a hitch. Normally, if I have to meet with friends within an hour of working out and don't have time to wash my hair, I'd throw on a hat to hide the oily stir-fry atop my dome, but not that night!
How did it feel? Despite my time constraints, round two went a lot smoother. I was almost apprehensive about using the dry shampoo because I had a hard time believing it would hold up against my so-far-undefeated sweat glands, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Public consensus: My roommate and his girlfriend said nothing about my appearance or my stench, despite me constantly bragging about going to the gym.
The next Monday, I woke up to a typical snowy morning in Queens. With snow continuing to blanket over the city’s beloved sidewalks, I reluctantly grabbed a hat before heading to work.
Now, wearing a knit hat in general is no doubt going to dishevel your hair to a certain degree, but I would argue the typical commute during a New York winter makes for a particularly egregious ruffling because, while the hat is perfect for the frigid streets, the foul air in the subway tunnels beneath is warm, wet, and ancient. So I often have to take my hat off down there to avoid undoing my shower, only to have to put it back on again when I leave the subterranean swamp and re-enter the cold. By the time I get to the office and take off my hat (again), my hair looks like this:
I had packed some dry shampoo in my bag, which was good because I had a meeting...pretty much as soon as I got there. So I sprayed the dry shampoo while inside the BuzzFeed men's bathroom and hurried to my meeting.
Usually, I spend pretty much the whole day at my desk occasionally fiddling with my hat hair, desperately trying to combat the flatness, usually by giving myself a noogie like I'm my own big brother. But after the initial application of the dry shampoo and combing, everything stayed in place and was, you know, hair-shaped.
How did it feel? I honestly didn't think the stuff would make a difference. My hat hair has been notoriously bad since I can remember. Even when I comb it out, the hat usually makes it so staticky that some of the strands point toward the nearest magnetic pole. But, hey, what do you know! The whole day my hair stayed in place and didn't produce little beams of lightning every time I touched a door.
Public consensus: At one point in the meeting my boss stopped to compliment my hair. I have literally never been complimented on my hair before.
Because I am a horribly insecure man, I asked some of the other writers a few questions on how they felt the experiment was going. Here is the extremely scientific data:
Question 1: Did you notice my hair this week? (Scale of 1 to 5 from “What? No?” to “Looks good, king!”)
As you can see from the graph, it appears six people extremely noticed my hair! Of course, four people extremely did not notice, but, well, I guess the world doesn't revolve around me.
Question 2: Do I smell bad? (Scale of 1 to 5 from "You smell fine..." to "P freakin' U!")
OK, so I have horrible anxiety over this, as my deskmate can attest to. As a perma-sweaty guy, I feel like I'm also perma-smelly, but it looks like, at least this week, that wasn't the case!
Question 3: How weird is it that I've been washing my hair every day since I learned how to wash my hair? (Scale of 1 to 5 from "Well, you ARE a man" to "You are a strange, strange man")
Sounds about right. And let this be a lesson to my fellas out there — even if you decide not to start using dry shampoo, ya gotta stop washing your hair every day, man. It's supremely weird to other people that you do that. Your hair and whoever you are dating will thank you.
Question 4 (multiple choice): Which of these unwashed Tims looks more professional?
As the data shows, people much preferred Unwashed Tim #2, which, indeed, is the one with the dry shampoo in his hair. Unwashed Tim #1 took that picture before this whole thing started and pretty clearly wrestled with his greasy hair a long time just to get it mediocre-looking.
As I was taking my final shower for this experiment, I started thinking how dry shampoo could really up my lazy game. I mean, yeah, obviously washing my hair takes, like, what, maybe 20 seconds at most? But theoretically this could be a game changer during those odd days when, as I describe through text to my boss when I'm running late, "having a rough one."
Every New Yorker has a "rough one" every once in a while. You sleep through your alarm, and then the train comes late because there's a "sick passenger" on another train. The thing is, reader, that is me. I'm the "sick passenger.” I feel extreme motion sickness on the train. Sometimes when it's really bad and I don't have a bag handy, I, well, make trains late...all over my seat.
So, yeah, 80% of this is to validate my own laziness here, but also, hey, if I can shave off a little more time from my morning routine, maybe when I'm feeling green, I'll have time to get off and take a break before resuming my commute. I'm sure the whole city would appreciate that.
I took the above pic in front of my apartment on the morning of my last "second hair" day. I didn't have time to shower, and I was already late to work, but I made it to work at a decent (late-but-not-too-late) hour and didn't (I think) end up looking like garbage when I got there.
Well, folks, we did it! I spent (nearly) a week not washing my hair every day, and, as you can see, dry shampoo really made a difference.
Not to make this out to be more than it is, but I think what we have here, people, is a story of redemption. This week, through the power of dry shampoo, my colleagues at work have renewed confidence in my hygiene choices. Friends now know when I just came from the gym because I tell them, not because I smell like it. I blew the lid off hat hair. And while dry shampoo can't cure my motion sickness, it did make my bad mornings a little easier (and, in turn, hopefully the mornings of my fellow commuters).
Needless to say, I will continue using dry shampoo on my weird baby hair for many second days to come.
As the manliest brand on the planet, Old Spice knows guys. That’s why the NEW Old Spice Dry Shampoo is designed to give a manly breath of fresh hair whether you’re a man on the go, you don’t have time to wash your hair, or you’re just trying to cure yourself of your ever-present winter hat hair!
Design by Nicole Ench. All photos by Tim Unkenholz, Rachael Maddox and Taylor Miller.