How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
You may have heard that shampooing less often is better for your hair. Or perhaps you’re thinking about ditching shampoo and joining the poop-free movement, searching for healthier, more beautiful hair.
Experts say there is no definitive answer to how often people should shampoo their hair. It usually comes down to personal preference. It usually comes down to personal preference. You may not need to do this as often as you think. For guidance, take a look at your hair type and styling choices.
“I’ve always said you can go days without shampoo,” says Ally Webb, professional hairdresser and founder of Drybar. “For normal hair in terms of oiliness and medium density, I sometimes advise my clients not to shampoo for as long as possible.”
The idea behind it? Shampooing too often can cause your hair to become less bouncy.
How Shampoo Works
First of all, the basics: what does shampoo do?
Shampoo traps oil, so if you do it too often, you can dry out your hair, making it prone to breakage, says Angela Lamb, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
“Hair produces a natural oil called sebum, and shampoo is an emulsifier that grabs and traps excess oil, dirt, and product residue, which is then washed off to cleanse the hair,” says Lamb.
For the most part, a bit of dirt is normal and natural, and you want some oil to stay in your hair.
“They provide hydration and a protective barrier to skin and hair,” says Carolyn Goh, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Who Should Shampoo Their Hair Daily?
Experts agree: Only a small group of people need daily shampooing, such as those with magnificent hair, those who exercise (and Sweat) a lot, or those who live in very humid places, Goh says.
“If you have an oily scalp, daily washing is essential,” she explains. “Sometimes people think they have a dry scalp because they have dandruff, but washing more often is also helpful in these situations.”
Who can go a few days without laundry?
The thicker your hair and the less oil, the less shampoo you need.
“Some people with dry or curly hair can wash their hair much less often without problems,” says Goh.
How much to wash?
Every other day or every 2-3 days without washing is generally acceptable for the average person.
“There are no general recommendations. If the hair is visibly oily, the scalp is itchy or flaky due to dirt,” says Goh. These are signs that it’s time to shampoo your hair.
How long is too long?
You can get away with longer styling without soap if your hair is styled.
“If you are styling or using heated styling tools, the most important thing I tell people is to make sure your hair is super clean when you start,” says Webb. “Hair will last longer, look better, and generally use those stressors less often.”
Lamb agrees that there are many variations, and you should think about the overall preparatory work on the style.
“Part of it has to do with culture, the natural texture and thickness of your hair, how much you sweat and exercise, and how it’s styled,” she says. “If you style your hair with keratin or have hair loss, you may not need or want to wash your hair more than once a week, and you will have more stress on your hair.”
Follow your intuition and preferences with one caveat. “No matter how your hair feels, never go longer than 14 days,” says Lamb, who doesn’t believe in the general no-poo movement.
Guo says that some of her patients only wash their hair once a week, medically speaking. She does not advise them to clean more often. She says that everything is fine if they don’t have scalp problems.
How to last longer between washes
More and more products have appeared in recent years that allow you to increase the intervals between washings. And people come up with different ways to make their hair look good.
“Powders absorb oil, so it doesn’t build up as much on the scalp,” Lamb says.
“If you still need to style your hair, leave-in conditioners can help. You can also re-wet and condition your hair more often,” says Lamb. This is sometimes called “co-poo” for using conditioner with shampoo.
For the most part, it’s a personal preference for how clean they want their locks to be.
“Everyone has a different threshold for how oily or textured they want their hair to be,” says Webb. “I tell people, ‘Sweat is like salt, right? You get texture, some of which are all-natural, and you can get away with it, but that’s also the beauty of dry shampoo. It refreshes and gives volume at the roots.
To breathe new life into your style, Webb advises spraying dry shampoo where oil and dirt usually accumulate: just at the roots. Spray onto the hairline and back of the head, then lift and spritz small sections of hair. “Spray 3 to 4 inches from the head,” she says.
You can also use dry shampoo as a preventative step. “I will ask my stylists to use it on a completely fresh look for volume,” she says. “You can also spray it before bed, and it will absorb some of the excess oil overnight. It’s like actively working to keep your style.”
So how do you know when it’s time to shampoo?
“If today is day five and your style is falling apart, wash,” Webb says. “Otherwise, do something fun to change that. Use dry shampoo. Make a parting in another place, braid a side braid, make a bun. If you’re good at disguise, great, and you often get the most compliments when you’re doing something out of the ordinary.”
trend and stigma
In recent years, it has become fashionable to leave the hair longer without shampooing, and more and more people go a week or more between shampoos.
“Many of my patients worry about washing their hair too often, but they need to wash their hair more often!” Goh says.
But longer may be perfectly acceptable. Caroline Lynch, an information technology consultant from Michigan, believes that she can put down a shampoo bottle almost every day. “Because I have thick, curly hair, and more of it than most people, I started washing my hair less a few years ago,” she says. “I kept pushing back the date when I saw I could.”
She washes her hair about once a week. “Shampooing less frequently has improved the quality of my hair because I don’t damage or dry it out with shampoo and then with styling tools like blow dryers, irons, and curlers,” she says. “It also saves money to buy better quality shampoo and conditioner since I use them less often.”
However, Lynch likes to keep quiet about his once-a-week habit.
“I get a lot of compliments on my hair, and the stylists always tell me how healthy it is, so I think I’m in good shape,” she says. “But I’m still nervous to tell people about frequency because of the stigma or people who think I’m dirty for not washing more often.”