The other day I found myself plagued by an incredibly itchy scalp, something I hadn’t experienced before. My first thought? Hmmm, maybe I haven’t been washing my hair often enough. Since I work from home, hair washing isn’t really on the top of my priority list—unless I’m venturing down the street to the coffee shop with the cute employees. Then I took to Google, as one does, and quickly became convinced I was dying. Once I pulled myself out of that wormhole, I came back to my original thesis and set out to learn how often you should wash your hair.
As it turns out, there’s a fine line between over- and under-washing hair. “Oils are very healthy for your hair. If you wash too frequently you strip your hair’s natural oils, leaving your strands dry, brittle, and subject to breaking,” says Linsey Barbuto, founder of Perlei Salon. “If you don’t wash enough, you don’t remove that gunk that builds up, which leads to a scratchy scalp.” Note to self: listen to intuition more. Celebrity hairstylist Paul Labrecque, with Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, says that not washing your hair enough can also lead to clogged pores—but at the same time, so can washing too often.
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that determine your ideal shampoo schedule. “There isn’t a hard and fast rule for how frequently you should wash your hair depending on your hair type,” says Sacha Mitic, hair stylist and founder of Sachajuan. “This will depend on the texture of your hair, how much oil you naturally produce, hormones, weather, exercise routines, how frequently you touch your hair, and the styling products you use between washes.” But there are some general guidelines you can use to determine how often you should wash your hair, according to the pros.
Fine hair: People with fine hair should wash their hair every other day, says Barbuto. Choose a shampoo that contains proteins, Mitic adds, because this will “increase the surface tension of hair to build texture and grip for styling.”
Wavy/thick hair: “Start by washing your hair twice a week, and using a product like our Overnight Hair Repair between washes to give a targeted moisture boost,” Mitic says. This will keep your hair hydrated on your dry-shampoo days.
Kinky/curly hair: Since curly hair tends to be dry, Mitic says those with this hair type can often get away with washing just once a week. “Curls lose moisture faster because more platelets of the cuticle are elevated as the curl twists and curves down its length,” he explains. “Curls also struggle to replenish their own moisture as the shape of the curl slows the journey of the hair’s natural moisturizer—sebum traveling down the hair shaft.”
Oily hair: If you have oily hair, you may have to wash your hair every day. Mitic says it depends on how much of your hair comes into contact with your face. For instance, if you have bangs you may need to wash them every day, but you can save your full shampoos for every other day. “Look for a shampoo with salicylic acid, which unglues and washes away excess sebum from your skin,” Mitic adds. Also, don’t forget about your scalp. “Find yourself a great scalp exfoliator which will allow your blowout to last longer,” Barbuto says. She likes Oribe Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub.
Regardless of your hair type, Lebrecque recommends finishing your shower with a cold rinse to give you shinier hair and make your shampoo last longer—because every little trick helps, right?
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