It seems like such a simple question, yet the answer to how often we should wash our hair is complex.
The truth is:
There's no single rule for how often you should wash your hair.
How often depends on several factors:
- Your hair type. Fine hair, curly hair, dry hair, oily hair, thick and regular hair all have to be treated differently as the hair follicles are completely different from one another.
- Your colour and styling routine. Do you bleach/colour your hair? Do you use a whole lot of styling products on the reg? To avoid product build up you need to wash your hair more often, however coloured hair is generally more dry and can go several days without a wash.
- Your climate. That feeling of going on vacation in a humid or dry climate is all too familiar. How often to wash your hair will depend on the climate you're in and how your hair responds.
- Your lifestyle. If you're breaking out a sweat every day this will impact your wash cycle too as your hair will get dirtier quicker.
- Your preference. Some people are crazy for a squeaky clean mane, while others prefer their hair on day 2 or 3 after washing. If you style your hair, this will also make you want to wash it less as styling holds better on slightly dirty hair.
The bottom line:
No one should be washing their hair every single day.
Generally, every 2-3 days is a good frequency for washing hair, but the less often you can wash it, the better.
Why you should avoid washing your hair daily
An important part of the hair growth process is allowing the scalp's natural oil, Sebum, to penetrate the hair follicles and nourish the hair.
This is what keeps your hair growing strong, healthy and moisturised.
When shampooing every day, you're not allowing any time for your scalp to release its natural oil into the hair.
Remember that shampoo is an emulsifier that traps oil and dries out hair.
This can make your hair weaker and result in split ends or breakage.
Women with oily hair types;
I hear you.
You feel the need to shampoo every day to keep your hair from looking too oily.
Over-washing means you'll dry out your scalp rapidly.
Which then causes the scalp to produce MORE oil to compensate.
So you're actually making your hair become oilier by using shampoo every single day.
Washing your hair less is better for oily hair in the long run, as it'll regulate the scalp to produce less oil than before.
How do I know when I should wash my hair?
Here are the basic ground rules for hair washing.
- Go as long as you can without washing.
- When your hair starts to look super oily or is itchy, it's time to wash.
- The more natural your shampoo, the better. Shampoos that lather a lot contain the detergent sulfate which is was causes the scalp to dry out too much. For healthier locks, opt for shampoo free from sulfates and parabens, and go for organic ingredients if you can!
How often to wash dry hair
If your hair is on the dry side, my guess is you've got curly or wavy hair, or it's been coloured or bleached.
Both curly hair and coloured hair are more porous and for this reason, it's less noticeable when you're scalp gets oily.
Both these hair types also need all the moisture they can get, so don't fret about washing frequently.
The longer you can skip the shampoo for, the better.
How often to wash oily hair
Fine, straight hair usually appears oily more quickly.
The scalp's oils can move down the hair follicle with ease due to the smooth texture of fine hair, leaving oil more visible at the roots.
Washing your hair at least every second day is ideal for oily hair.
This will give the scalp enough time to nourish the hair without you feeling like you can't step out of the house.
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How to keep hair looking clean between washes
If your hair gets oily quickly, here are some techniques to keep your hair looking fresh for longer.
Can we take a moment of silence for the inventor of dry shampoo?
Dry shampoo is a godsend for keeping hair looking convincingly clean, when it's most definitely not.
The powder absorbs oil so it's not as visible on your scalp.
However unlike regular shampoo, dry shampoo won't dry out your scalp.
Which is why it's perfect for in between washes.
When applying dry shampoo:
Make sure you spray around 6 inches away from your head and only on the scalp.
Wet your hair in the shower
Many of us naturally associate wetting your hair with washing your hair.
Yet water itself can rinse out some of the dirt and oils in your hair, leaving it looking cleaner when it dries.
Some people wet and condition their hair in between shampoos too to keep it looking cleaner for longer.
Do a mini blow-out to get rid of greasy hair
There's been one too many times I've found myself with unexpected plans on the day I should have probably washed my hair.
Out of desperation in this extremely high-pressure situation, I discovered that blow-drying your scalp can help disguise oily hair.
I am very anti using heat tools because; hair damage, however using the blow dryer on cool or warm still does the trick.
Team it with a spritz of dry shampoo and you're good to go.
Just don't have the hair dryer too hot that you burn your scalp.
Remember the goal is a healthy scalp.
Benefits of washing your hair less often
Better scalp health
The major benefit of not using shampoo every day is giving your scalp time to produce sebum and nourish itself.
A healthy scalp leads to healthier hair growth.
Whereas drying out the scalp can cause hair loss.
Your hair will be more hydrated
By now you know how important the scalp's natural oil sebum is to hydrate and moisturise the hair, which means your hair will be more shiny, soft and less matted.
Your colour will last longer
Toners don't last forever, so washing your hair more often will wash out the toner faster.
Less washing also means your colour won't fade or go brassy as quickly.
Less split ends
Split ends are caused from dry hair, so less shampoo means more moisture and less breakage.
Less heat styling required
Washing your hair less means you'll naturally reduce the number of times per week you need to blow-dry and style your hair.
And of course, less heat styling will also help your hair look and feel healthier.
If you've got any more questions about scalp care, let's chat in the comments below.