How To Wash Your Hair Properly

By Marisa Ramiccio. May 7th 2016

Your hair looks clean and feels clean, but how clean is it, really? Should you have repeated after you lathered and rinsed? Do you ever follow the directions on the shampoo label? Did you even use the right type of shampoo and conditioner? If you need some clarity on the whole hair washing process, read on to find out the myths, facts and truth about the proper way to wash your hair.

Clarifying The Shampoo

The instructions on the back of the shampoo bottle say “Lather, rinse and repeat.” But what does it mean by “repeat?” Do you have to wash your hair twice? The answer is yes and no. The first time you lather up, you should be cleansing your scalp, not your hair. The purpose is to remove sebum, which is the oil your scalp produces, as well as any product buildup and dead skin cells from your scalp. Once you’ve cleansed your scalp, it’s time to “repeat” the process, but this time the purpose is to wash your hair. Now that those mysterious shampoo instructions have been demystified, here’s a breakdown of how to properly wash your hair:

Step 1: Cleanse Your Scalp

Pour some shampoo in your hand and rub it in between the palms of your hands to emulsify it. Apply the shampoo to your scalp and massage it with your fingertips for about 30 seconds. If you have long hair or have a hard time reaching the back of your head, you may want to flip your hair over so you don’t miss scrubbing the back of your head. Once you’ve thoroughly washed your scalp, rinse your scalp and hair to ensure that none of the shampoo or buildup has been left behind.

Step 2: Wash Your Hair

Once again, pour some shampoo into your hand and emulsify it. Work the shampoo through your hair from end to end and then spend another 30 seconds rinsing it out.

Step 3: Wash Again

Depending on how often you wash your hair and how much product buildup is on your scalp, you may want to wash your hair once more. If your hair is really long or really thick, you may also prefer to wash it once again if you feel that you didn’t get everything out the first time.

[Related: What Is Dry Shampoo And How Does It Work?]

Hair Washing FAQ

Washing your hair should be simple enough, but with so many different hair types and so many different hair products, questions naturally arise about what to use, how to use it and when. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about hair washing:

How much shampoo should I use?

For most hair types, a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half is sufficient for cleansing the scalp. When it comes to washing your hair, the amount of shampoo you use will depend on the length and thickness of your hair. For instance, if you have short hair, you should use a little less than a teaspoon and if you have long hair, you should use a little more than that.

How much conditioner should I use?

When it comes to conditioner, you should also use the length and thickness of your hair as a guide. You want to make sure that your hair is completely coated. If you have oily hair, only apply conditioner from the mid-shaft down to the ends. Either way, don’t go overboard, otherwise your hair will be weighed down.

How often should I wash my hair?

Washing your hair every other day should be sufficient. Washing your every day does rid your scalp of all of its sebum, but that actually does your scalp and hair more harm than good because they need that sebum to stay healthy and nourished. Plus, when you wash all of that sebum away, your oil glands react by producing even more of it.

Can I just shampoo or just condition my hair?

No and yes, respectively. Shampoos may cleanse your hair but they don’t moisturize it, so don’t plan on shampooing unless you plan on conditioning, too. However, you can condition your hair without shampooing first. The best way to do this is through a deep conditioning treatment, which is usually recommended for those with frizzy or dry hair.

How much lather should I expect to see when I shampoo?

You should work up more of a lather when washing your hair, but overall, it will depend on the product that you use. Some hair products made from natural ingredients won’t produce much of a lather if they produce any at all, so don’t be concerned with how soapy your hair is, be concerned with how clean it is.

What type of shampoo and conditioner should I use?

Many hair products these days are specifically designed for dry hair, oily hair, etc. So choose products that match your hair type.

[Related: How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?]

Myths And Facts

Myths about hair washing abound, so what’s truth and what’s fact? Read on to find out.

  • You should rotate shampoo and conditioner because your hair gets used to it over time – This is a big, fat myth. You hair is essentially dead, so it can’t build up a tolerance or resistance to certain products. Some hair stylists say that this is just a perception of the mind. Over time, you perceive that your hair has gotten used to the product and so you switch. So if you’ve found a product that you love, don’t feel like you’re doing your hair a disservice by not switching products.
  • The more lather you create, the cleaner your hair will be – This is also a myth. Shampoo manufacturers have conditioned us to believe that lather equals clean, but that’s not necessarily the case. That lather is made from chemicals that strip the hair of moisture, so you’re actually drying out your hair as you clean it.

Now that you know the proper way to wash your hair, as well as the myths and the facts, your hair and scalp should be sparkling clean.


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