Ask any pro their advice for healthy hair, and they’ll all say the same thing: Stop washing it so dang much. But for anyone who also hates walking around with a scalp full of grease, this advice will likely leave you asking: “Um, how?” The answer, according to the experts, all comes down to choosing one of the best clarifying shampoos.
In the pursuit of washing your hair less, clarifying shampoos—which help rid your hair of all the gunk that makes it appear oily—are the best possible buy. “Clarifying shampoos do a good job of removing oil and product buildup, and can extend the time between washing,” says Drybar founder Alli Webb. But just because they’re very good at their job doesn’t mean you should use them every time you shower.
“Clarifying and detoxifying shampoos provide a deeper clean that will help clear any product, oil, and mineral buildup on the hair and scalp, confirms Garret Bryan, founder of New York City’s Hawthorne Salon. If you want to try and space out your shampoos as far as possible, he recommends swapping one of these products every other wash for your usual shampoo. For an all-natural fix, tea tree oil works as a soothing and cleansing antibacterial for your scalp, and occasionally rinsing with apple cider vinegar can help bust through buildup.
In addition to choosing the right product, there are a few best practices that can also help you extend every wash for an extra day (or two). If your hair is particularly oily, Webb suggests doing two washes in the same shower. Be sure to use a good conditioner, but don’t apply it to your roots, and adopt a less-is-more strategy with other products. “Doing less with your hair and using one simple leave-in product that treats it will allow you to wash less frequently,” says Bryan. “Styling products and heat styling only make your hair and scalp need to be washed more often, because product and oil buildup will happen.”
Wondering how to wash your hair less? Below, the pros share their picks for keeping your scalp and strands happy, healthy, and stink-free for twice as long every time you lather up.
To combat scalp grease and strand dryness in a single wash, opt for this ultra-moisturizing clarifier. It’s gentle enough to work for even the finest of hair types, and is made with rosemary leaf extract, witch hazel, and tea tree oil to get rid of buildup, plus coconut oil for added hydration.
Charcoal is known for its ability to absorb impurities, which makes it the perfect ingredient for lifting grime off of your scalp. In addition to activated charcoal, this shampoo has also got vegetable protein to strengthen strands and undo some of the damage done to strands by heat and chemical treatments.
Lactic acid is another A-plus ingredient for cleansing your scalp, and this product is packed with it. The gentle exfoliant works alongside salicylic acid and to clarify and cleanse the skin on your head, and is paired with nourishing ingredients to ensure that your strands won’t dry out in the process.
Getting clean hair doesn’t have to mean emptying your wallet for the sake of the cause. This tea tree and mint-infused shampoo (which is free of mineral oil and silicone) will give you a wondrous lather and balance the pH of your scalp, for only $7.
Ouai Detox Shampoo, $30
If dousing your hair with straight-up apple cider vinegar sounds unappealing, this pro upgrade is the next best thing. It uses apple cider vinegar to cleanse the scalp, plus has keratin to strengthen strands and add shine. But the best part? The divine fragrance (a combination of rose, bergamot, lychee, cedarwood, and white musk) that will leave your hair happily scented for days.
This shampoo is so good at getting your scalp clean, you’ll only need to use it once a week (hence the “Sunday” in its name). It combines ginseng root, rosemary leaf, and sage leaf extracts to stimulate the scalp and act as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, stopping grease and buildup in its tracks.
For a charcoal-packed product you can pick up at the drugstore, Love, Beauty and Planet has got you covered. It combines the impurity-lifting ingredient with coconut oil, so your strands will feel strong, clean and shiny until the next time you decide to treat them to a full lather and rinse.
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