There’s nothing like the relaxing feeling of a good hair wash at the salon – the deep scalp massage, warm water, and rich, creamy products. But one of the worst feelings is the dry, brittle itch that comes from overwashing your hair at home or letting it sit greasy in between shampoos. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many times a week should you wash your hair, but your hair’s texture, thickness, and natural oil production can help guide how often you’ll want to lather up.
The Science Behind How Often to Wash Hair
Overwashing your hair can lead to all kinds of distressed tresses. Signs you might be washing your hair too often include:
- Increased split ends
- Frizziness instead of shine
- Fading color in dyed and naturally dark hair
- Scalp buildup
- Oily hair
Oily hair from overwashing may seem counterintuitive, but it’s one of the most common side effects. Your scalp, like your face, naturally contains sebaceous glands that produce oil, called sebum. Sebum naturally moisturizes and protects your hair from microbes, the elements, and damage. But overwashing your hair overstimulates the glands, signaling for them to produce more oil to replace what’s been stripped away by the wash. Overwashing your hair can lock you into a vicious cycle where your hair overproduces healthy oils in order to try to protect it, making it look and feel heavy and lank.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
For many hair types, washing hair every day can lead to damage. But if you have fine hair, you may find your hair gets oily if you don’t wash consistently. Your texture and hair type can help determine how often you should wash your hair.
For fine hair, oily hair, or straight hair:
Consider washing your hair every other day. Fine hair needs to be washed more frequently not because it necessarily produces more oil, but because the oil spreads more rapidly along the hair shaft. A good dry shampoo like Living Proof is formulated to absorb sweat and excess oil on the days in between washes.
For thick hair, wavy hair, coarse or grey hair, or curly hair:
Should you wash your hair every day even if you have pretty strong strands? Probably not. Consider washing only one to two times a week, and if you feel buildup on the off days, consider a purifying shampoo like Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special Shampoo or Hask’s Charcoal line. Both of these use natural ingredients to ward off itchy scalp buildup.
For damaged hair:
If you have hair that’s delicate from dye or frequent heat-styling, a keratin-rich product like MoroccanOil can help repair strands in the shower. But you still won’t need to use it more than every two to three days to get maximum benefits.
How Often Should You Shampoo Your Hair: Exceptions to the Rule
Despite these guidelines, nothing is set in stone! Hair texture can vary throughout your lifetime, during puberty, pregnancy, or other hormonal shifts. Adapting to these changes can take patience. Once you’ve cracked the code, there are still some nuances to how many times should you wash your hair.
- Extreme temperatures: Very cold, dry air will make your hair more brittle, meaning you can likely go longer between washes. Very hot, humid weather makes you sweat more, meaning you may need to wash your hair more often as well.
- Exercise or outdoor activities: Anything that makes you sweat or get you dirty means you should consider washing your hair more regularly! Sweat buildup can lead to a flaky scalp and even hair loss.
How to Wash Your Hair: Dos & Don’ts
Washing hair can be incredibly therapeutic, so you shouldn’t limit yourself to not washing your hair if it makes you feel fresh! Plus, the scalp massage from a wash at the hair salon is one of the reasons your hair looks so healthy after a fresh cut. Scalp massages release stress, stimulate lymphatic drainage, and revive the hair follicle, making your hair more likely to grow long and healthy. So you don’t miss out on these benefits, try changing the question from “how often should I wash my hair?” to “how often should I shampoo my hair?” Rinsing your hair in the shower without shampoo still removes some of the impurities, and works in that relaxing scalp massage without overdrying.
For how to wash hair like an expert so that your hair stays shiny, try these tips next time you reach for the shampoo:
- Make sure to get your hair thoroughly wet. Particularly for thick hair, run your hands through your locks to check that all the strands are fully saturated.
- Focus on the scalp. Try a scalp massage for 1-3 minutes once you’ve added shampoo to your hair.
- Knowing how much shampoo to use when you wash is key to keeping strands healthy. Too much shampoo can lead to buildup, making it harder to give your hair off-days in between washes and leaving it less shiny. Even with very long hair, a quarter-sized amount of shampoo is enough to get a good lather.
- No matter how often, when you wash your hair, use a conditioner. Conditioner hydrates the ends of your hair where the scalp oils may not reach. Keep the conditioner away from your scalp, and you can even use it on days when you don’t shampoo to avoid split ends. A conditioner like Maui Moisture Shine can refresh your hair by adding natural oils, not sulfates, to rehydrate.
- Watch your water temperature: Warm water gives the most effective clean by separating the hair shaft, but scalding temperatures dehydrate your hair, leaving it duller. A cool rinse at the end can increase shine. No matter the temperature, make sure you rinse well!
- In order to make your hair silkier and shinier, you can use organic products which will help you take care of your hair even better.
A balanced hair washing routine is the key to strong and shiny locks. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to how often you wash your hair and what products you use. It may take some time to find what works, but your hair will thank you for it!