How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

By:    Published: September 29, 2011

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To wash or not to wash, that is the age-old hair question. If you don't wash your hair every day, it becomes dirty and greasy. But if you do wash it every day, it becomes frizzy and dried out. If this is the dilemma you face just before taking a shower, know that you are not alone. Many people aren't sure of how often they need to wash their hair, but it may be less often than they think.

How Often is Too Often?

Shampooing daily, which may seem like the standard for hair washing, may not be the best way to go. Stylists say that there is little evidence to show that washing your hair daily benefits the hair and scalp. But how often you should wash your hair does depend on your hair type.

  • Curly: If you have curly hair, washing your hair monthly will actually suffice. Shampooing often can dry out curly hair and make it more susceptible to frizz. Conditioning regularly is recommended in order to keep curls healthy and moisturized.
  • Dry: If you have dry, brittle hair, it's best to wash your hair weekly since shampoos remove natural oils from the scalp. So if your hair dry already, it's best to wash less frequently.
  • Oily: If your hair is naturally oily, then it's fine to wash it frequently. If your scalp produces a large amount of oil, then daily washing may actually be beneficial. If not, washing every other day should be sufficient.
  • African-American: If you are African-American, it's recommended that you wash your hair at least once every 10 days. Any less will cause too much oil to build up on the scalp; any more will make hair brittle and dry.
  • Dandruff: If you have dandruff or another type of scalp problem, it's best to wash your hair daily to remove the dead skin cells from the scalp.

At the end of the day, how often you wash your hair is up to you. Experiment with how often you shampoo and see what works best for your hair.

Shampoos and Conditioners

In order to give your hair the maximum benefit, use shampoos and conditioners that are designed for your hair type. Most of the leading brands now offer products that cater to specific hair types such as curly hair, straight hair, color-treated hair, etc. Here are some shampoo and conditioner recommendations, based on hair type:

  • If you have oily hair and wash it daily, then look for a lightweight, or everyday shampoo that won't completely dry out your hair. Look for a conditioner that is made for oily hair.
  • If you have dry hair, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. You can continue to condition your hair frequently, even if you don't shampoo often.
  • If you have dandruff or a scalp problem, use a shampoo that is designed to reduce flaking and other symptoms of dandruff.

Massaging the scalp frequently between washings can loosen dirt and oil that has built up on the scalp. It's also a good way to keep blood and nutrients flowing to the scalp and hair.

Alternatives to Shampooing

If you prefer to skip the shampoo altogether, there are many other options to try.

  • Dry shampoo: A dry shampoo, which is also called hair powder, is good for those who have dry or curly hair and don't shampoo frequently. Dry shampoos won't clean your hair, but they will keep it manageable and fragrant until the next washing.
  • Powder: Some people use actual powder to clear away excess oils in between washings. An old wives' tale suggests using talcum powder to soak up excess oil, but some choose to use baby powder instead.
  • WEN: Created by celebrity hair stylist Chaz Dean, this line of products, particularly the cleansing conditioner, is designed to make your hair beautiful without the harsh chemicals of regular shampoo. The cleansing conditioner is made from natural ingredients and does not lather like regular shampoo. That's because regular shampoos contain sulfates, the chemical that causes lathering in shampoo, but doesn't actually contribute to the cleansing of the scalp or hair. WEN products replace the use of regular shampoos and conditioners and are gentle enough to be used every day.
  • Homemade shampoo: If you prefer to use a natural shampoo, then you can make your own. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with one cup of water for a cleansing shampoo. To make a homemade conditioner, mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with one cup of water. Some people also use lemon juice or beer to cleanse their hair.

No matter what type of hair you have, you can probably stand to wash your hair a little less. Washing your hair is a bit of a backward process as it is, since you are removing the natural oils from the hair and replacing them with synthetic moisturizers. By using sulfate-free or natural shampoos and letting your hair's natural oils do most of the conditioning, your hair will return to its luscious original state in no time.

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