The one question I get asked the most by my readers is “how often should I wash hair”? If only the answer to this question was as simple as once a week or twice a week or even every other day. Unfortunately, that isn’t the answer and neither is it that simple.
Since everyone has different hair types and needs, the amount of time they wash their hair will also be different. Some people need to wash their hair daily while others can extend their wash day to a week. What determines when you should wash your hair?
There are quite a few factors that need to be considered before you are able to figure out a hair wash routine that works for you. I will explain what these are in this post and how you can make your own simple hair wash routine to allow your scalp to breathe!
Choosing the right shampoo is equally important!
My personal favorite is the Grow New Hair Shampoo by Just Nutritive. I love it because it is absolutely organic, sulfate & cruelty-free, contains no parabens or silicones, and is made with 30 different effective pure ingredients vital for hair. It is gentle on all types of hair and it removes dirt without stripping hair of its natural oils. A huge PLUS!
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How Often Should I Wash Hair?
Since there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this most-asked question, telling you that “here, this is a routine you must follow” is just not going to work for everyone.
Instead, the important thing to note here is that your washing schedule is going to be different from other people and that is totally OKAY. The idea is to align it to your hair needs without overwashing or underwashing it.
If your hair is thin and gets greasy on the next day of washing and you need to wash it again, it’s fine to wash daily. That is what your hair needs. If your scalp starts to dry out and itch like crazy, then it’s telling you it needs to be washed!
Whatever the case is, how often you should wash your hair really depends on your hair type, your styling choices, the kind of lifestyle you lead, and your personal preferences.
For example, someone who has a naturally oily scalp or an outdoorsy lifestyle (more on this later) is going to need to wash their hair more often. Similarly, someone who uses multiple different hair styling products are also going to need to wash more frequently to remove the build up.
Alternatively, stretching out wash days could be a personal preference; some may or may not want to wash their hair daily.
Sometimes washing every day could lead to overwashing and this could have a negative impact on your locks.
Are You Overwashing?
How do you know if you are overwashing your hair? Is that even a thing?
Yes, it totally is.
There is a misconception that hair must be washed twice at one time with shampoo in order for it to be clean. We are, in fact, conditioned to do so. Our mothers tell us when we are young, we see it on commercials on TV, and it is even written on the direction labels at the back of our shampoo bottles: Shampoo twice!
LIES, all lies!!
The main purpose of shampoo is to remove excess oil and dirt from the scalp. Rinsing out the shampoo from the scalp, cleans out the hair as it runs down to the ends. However, rubbing the hair with shampoo, even once, is harsh enough to damage the hair. Imagine doing it twice, every time on wash day! Horrifying!
Read my other articles on hair washing basics: Shampoo Stories
Dry and brittle hair is a sign of overwashing. Similarly, dandruff and itchy scalp can also be a symptom of dry scalp caused by overwashing.
If you must wash daily, do so but please keep in mind to use a mild shampoo and focus only on the scalp, not the hair.
Determining When To Wash Hair
Knowing your hair type and listening to your scalp are two crucial steps in determining when to wash your hair. Let’s dive deeper into each.
Know Your Hair Type
As a general guide, it is recommended to shampoo your hair once every three days at the most. This is considered ideal for people who have normal to dry hair as well as wavy hair.
Women with thick or curly hair, however, can get away with washing less often as their hair tends to stay on the dry side.
If you have thin or straight hair, chances are it will get oily quicker. In that case, it is recommended to wash every day or every other day.
Lastly, African American hair needs to be washed the least, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, as it is super fragile and can easily be damaged. For this reason, dermatologists recommend them to wash their hair once a week or every other week to reduce dryness caused by product build-up.
Listen To Your Scalp
Your scalp will literally tell you when it is time to wash your hair. But how do you know it’s excess oil and not dirt or sweat?
Natural oils or sebum is produced by the scalp to protect and moisturize hair from its roots down to its tips. The amount of sebum your scalp produces determines how oily your scalp gets and how often you should wash.
Generally, as you get older, your scalp gets dryer. This means, you don’t have to wash it as often as an adult (in your 20s or 30s) than if you were a teenager.
However, this may not be true for everyone. Adults over the age of 30 who have very oily scalp may need to shampoo daily.
Dirt & Debris
How long you spend outdoors, especially if you are gardening, hiking, or even cleaning out your garage, can mean you need to wash more frequently.
Dirt, debris, pollen, & pollution all accumulate on your scalp and can clog up your pores. For this reason, you should wash your scalp more often.
For those of us who tend to sweat more on our scalp must also wash it out before it dries up. You wouldn’t let your sweat dry up on your body so why would you allow it to do so on your scalp?
High intensity workouts can cause a great deal of sweat to form on the scalp. If you frequently wear a hat/cap or a headscarf for long periods of time, you may be prone to a sweaty scalp. Sweat can cause your hair to smell and look greasy and dirty.
Product Build Up
Your hair styling products (sprays, creams, serums, etc) can cause a great deal of irritation and scalp allergies. These irritations are a result of buildup from the various kinds of products you use on your scalp and hair.
The more frequently you use these products, the more you will need to wash your hair in order to remove what they leave behind.
Building Your Hair Wash Routine
Ideally, you want to train your scalp to correctly regulate it’s sebum production so that you can achieve hair that is naturally healthy, smooth, and grease-free. A clean, healthy, and balanced scalp leads to healthy and stronger hair growth.
Keeping your scalp healthy could mean stretching out your wash days. If you feel like you are washing too often, try cutting back on ONE wash per week and slowly increase the time between washes every week until you feel your scalp has reached its desired natural health back.
This may be confusing at first and also may take some time getting used to. Your hair will need to go through an “adjustment period” or a detox in which it will get worse before it gets better!
It normally takes 3-5 weeks for the scalp to adjust to any new hair washing routine. Please be patient during this time before you decide whether the schedule is or isn’t working!
Here’s a hair wash routine you can follow in order to build your own schedule.
As you can see, the idea is to reduce the times you wash your hair every week.
What To Wash Hair With
Now that you have managed to create your own wash schedule, it is important to know what to wash hair with. Traditional shampoos contain toxic ingredients that can be detrimental to hair health.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to commercial shampoos that work the same way, if not better.
It is no secret that shampoos contain harsh chemicals that strip hair of its natural oils or sebum. Protect your hair and choose a gentle shampoo that cleans the scalp without drying it out. Choose shampoos that are free of sulfates and parabens, but contain wholesome, organic ingredients that cleanse or clarify the scalp.
Like what, you may ask?
The Grow New Hair Shampoo & Conditioner by Just Nutritive is made with clean vitamin-packed ingredients that strengthen hair strands, transforming it into healthy and silky hair. Best of all, it is gentle enough for everyday use and can be utilized on all hair types. Hair wash doesn’t get simpler than that!
This is gaining a lot of popularity lately but what exactly is a co-wash? In simple terms, it really just means a conditioner that has cleansing abilities. In other words, a conditioner that washes hair. Get it?
A co-wash is ideally recommended for curly, wavy, or dry hair. This type of hair requires the most amount of hydration.
Use a co-wash to replace your traditional shampoo. It works in the same way, minus all the detergent-like ingredients. Also, you don’t need to use it as often as a shampoo either. Once a week is good enough.
3. Dry Shampoo
A dry shampoo doesn’t exactly clean the scalp, nor is it actually a “shampoo”. Instead, what a dry shampoo does is that it soaks up all the excess oils on the scalp and prevents hair from looking greasy and clumpy.
Dry shampoo is another great way to extend time between washes. Be careful though, overusing it can create product buildup.
4. Water-Only Washing
Supporters of the No-Poo lifestyle advocate the importance of ditching shampoos and washing hair with only water.
They also boast about the many benefits of not washing hair daily. While this could work for some, depending on where you live in the world, water doesn’t exactly moisturize or condition the hair.
If you choose to wash your hair with just water, do consider using a leave-in conditioner of some sort to close out the cuticles.
Check out my articles on hard waters solutions to learn more about the impact water hardness has on hair.
Keeping It Simple
With everything you have just read, you can see that there is no universal approach to the most-asked question: how often should I wash hair. Your hair wash routine will be unique to your hair type and your lifestyle and personal preferences.
However, it is possible to train your scalp to reduced washes in order for the scalp to stay clean and balanced. You can build out your own hair wash schedule if you feel like you need to cut down on how many times you wash your hair.
Keep it simple and remember that you will need to wash more, the dirtier your hair gets.
When was the last time you washed your hair?
Do you follow a hair wash schedule? If so, how different is it from the one I provided in this post?
Please let me know if you have any questions or feel free to leave me your feedback! I love hearing from you!:)