How Often Should You Wash Your Hair: A Simple Guide

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Portrait photo of a man with a wet hair

Today's society puts a huge amount of stress on personal hygiene and cleanliness. Your body produces natural oils and proteins it relies on for healthy skin and hair. It also has the habit of giving a greasy or dirty appearance. When it comes to clean hair, shampooing is a widely used method of removing the dirt and oil, but shampooing too often can lead to dry, damaged hair. At one point in time, hair washing with your daily shower was a commonly accepted practice. However, now it has become routine by some to skip washes. So with all the conflicting information, it begs the question: how often should you wash your hair?

A new trend sweeping the industry is called the “no-poo” movement. It centers around washing and shampooing less frequently or sometimes not at all. Many people believe it's an effective way of keeping your hair in healthy and in better quality. As the theory goes, when we wash our scalps less, what we’re doing is actually training it to produce less oil. It’s thought that the body understands there is an equilibrium that should be reached and it will work to reach that point faster if we are continually clearing the slate with constant shampooing.

However, some people disagree with this practice and some feel like there's a stigma that can come with skipping washes. No one likes to walk around feeling dirty and having oily, greasy hair can make a person feel very dirty. So how often should you wash your hair? Well, we all know we need to wash regularly, but what “regularly” actually means can be a little hard to decipher. What most experts do agree on is that there are several factors that go into determining how often you should wash your hair. Read on to find the key factors that can influence the answer to 'how often should you wash your hair?'

How Often Should You Wash Your Hair

​Your Hair Type Plays A Role

​One big factor that affects how often you should wash your hair is what type of hair you have. There’s a reason why there are so many types of hair care products on the market with so many different functions. Some are moisture intense, others volumize; there are products for straight, curly, or color-treated hair. Some products are designed for thick hair while others work best for thin hair. And some even go so far as being used specifically if you're a blonde, brunette, or redhead. Everyone’s hair is different and what might work for one person, might not work for another.

black hair of a woman with a flower hold by her

Photo by Deena from Pexels

Your hair type also plays a big role in how fast or slow it becomes oily and dirty. Thin or silky-textured hair traps oil more than thicker hair. Because of its thin texture, the dirt and oil will show more easily, weighing down your hair and look dirtier sooner than other hair types. If you have thin or silky hair, you may find yourself wanting to wash every other day.

​Thicker hair with less oil doesn’t need to be shampooed as often. In fact, if your hair is thick and curly experts advise you not to shampoo more than every few days as repeated washes can damage your natural curl. This is because the oils in your scalp don't travel down the hair shaft as quickly as it does in finer hair strands. Curly hair also tends to be drier, meaning the reduced amount of oil produced by the scalp takes longer to become noticeable. Coarse hair is another type that can go for a while without a good scrub. Hair types with thicker follicles won’t get dirty as quick and do a nice job of camouflaging grease by being more difficult to weigh down.

​Lifestyle & Activities

People who exercise often will most likely experience a need to wash more frequently. When you exercise, your body produces sweat which can cause you to feel oily quicker than if you didn't exercise as often. Unlike skin where sweat can be wiped off, it will get trapped on the scalp by the hair follicles, speeding up how quickly your hair will begin to look dirty.

So how often should you wash your hair if you exercise daily? Well, you may find the need to shampoo daily to keep your appearance looking fresh and clean, however, a simple rinse would work just fine. Plus, the salt from your sweat can give your hair some nice texture. If you do need to wash your hair daily, try finding a cleansing shampoo designed for daily use. They tend to be less harsh than other shampoos and strip the hair of less oil. Another option is looking for a dry shampoo or hair mist that can keep it smelling fresh between washes.

​Hair Washing Guide

When figuring out how often should you wash your hair, it's great to have a guide to follow. The best thing you can do to achieve your ideal amount of washing for your hair type is to find a good mix of shampoo, conditioner, and dry products that balance the oiliness of your scalp. The right balance can reduce the dirty look and feel of your hair, pushing back the amount of shampooing you’ll need. When applying conditioner, stylists advice you not to apply it directly to the scalp. The weight of the product can make the scalp oilier, accelerating the greasy look and feel of your roots. Another trick you can do is to use volumizing shampoo as it’s designed to be lightweight and won’t flatten down your hair as quickly.

You can also re-wet your hair and condition between washes. This is often called "co-pooing" and following the practice will allow you to restyle your hair without the need to shampoo it more than necessary. Another technique is styling your hair differently when your original style begins to fall apart as the days between washes progress. Parting it differently or rocking a bun or side-braid can camouflage the dirty look you might be feeling. Changing up your style can also get you a lot of compliments!

Blonde wet hair

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay 

There are more products on the market than ever designed for extending the amount of time you need between washes. One such product is dry shampoo, which is a powder that absorbs oil, keeping it off the scalp. Spraying a little on your roots when they begin to feel greasy will absorb the oil and also lift the roots up, keeping your hair from appearing dirty and reducing how often you should wash your hair.

If you style your hair using heat, making sure your hair is very clean before you start can help you go longer between washes. Your look will last longer this way, look better, and you'll reduce the need to use those damaging stressors as often as you would if you washed every day.

If you style your hair using heat, making sure your hair is very clean before you start can help you go longer between washes. Your look will last longer this way, look better, and you'll reduce the need to use those damaging stressors as often as you would if you washed every day.

When you do wash your hair, look for products with scalp friendly ingredients. Many people think they're just washing their hair, but remember shampooing is also a skincare regimen for your scalp. Using scalp-friendly products will stimulate circulation in the scalp, thus it fortifying the follicles, promote growth, and fight hair loss while the cleanser itself rinses away excess build-up.

​​Conclusion

So how often should you wash your hair? Well, there's no blanket recommendation since everyone's hair is different and everyone has different preferences. Only people with very oily scalps should shampoo every day. It will be very obvious if you fit into this category- by the end of the day, your scalp with be covered in a layer of oil and your skin will most likely be more oily as well. For normal hair, every other day is recommended, every two days is even better. If you can make it an entire week, go for it. But most experts agree you shouldn't go more than a week or two. Too much-trapped dirt could also potentially damage to the hair and clog the pores on your scalp. You may want to keep from shampooing every day but experts advise not to exceed a maximum of two weeks.

woman in a salon drying her wet hair

Image by Social Butterfly from Pixabay 

There are common indicators that it might help you determine how long you should go between washes. If you experience visible oil, itchy scalp, or flaking dirt, it may be a good time to wash.

Some people with thick and curly hair prefer to shampoo about once a week. Not only does it improve the quality of their hair, it cuts down on product cost since you won’t use as much. This process allows you to purchase high-quality products, furthering to keep your locks healthy. But many feel there is a stigma that comes along with the trend and don’t want to admit how often they wash out of fear of being thought as dirty.

If you do need to wash your hair often, it’s recommended that you wash at most once every other day and use dry shampoos and other oil absorbing products to prolong it when you can. Dry sprays and scented mists can also keep your hair smelling fresh between washes. So how often should you wash your hair? Less is always more, but it's important to stick with a process you feel most comfortable with!

Featured Image: Image by Neel Shakilov from Pixabay

How Often Should You Wash Your Hair: A Simple Guide
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