When it comes to trying to figure out how often you should be washing your hair, there is a laundry list of variables that will determine how regularly each person should be shampooing and conditioning their precious scalp.
Whether you have long hair or short hair, curly or straight, the fact of the matter is there is no one answer when it comes to good hair care, which is why understanding what your hair and scalp needs is essential for any good hair routine. It all depends on what type of hair you have, the type of skin you have, how much product you use and how often you sweat it out in the gym. But surely there's a definitive answer to the question, how often should you be washing your hair?
Below, all the facts and myths about keeping your mane clean.
Is it bad to wash your hair every day?
Your scalp produces oils that travel down your hair and naturally hydrate your hair. If you shampoo too frequently you will wash away these natural oils that leave your hair dry.
Are there any risks if you over wash your hair?
There are signs to look out for that signal you are actually over washing your hair, these are:
1. Your brush can't move smoothly through your hair
When you over wash your hair your cuticles stay open, making it dryer and more brittle. When this happens to your hair your brush is going to catch more on tangles.
2. Your colour is starting to fade
Sounds pretty obvious, but the more you wash your hair, the more your colour will fade. If you have coloured hair try washing your hair less, use sulfate-free shampoos and finish your shower with a cold rinse. While the heat opens the cuticles in your hair, the cold keeps them closed which means the colour molecules won't rinse out.
3. Your scalp is flaky
A flaky scalp means you're drying out your hair with too much shampoo. Ease back and skip a few washes.
4. Your hair is getting oilier
Shampoo strips your scalp of oil. If you're over washing your hair your scalp will start to produce extra oils to make up for what it's losing in every wash.
5. Your hair is frizzier than normal
It's not just the weather that can make your hair go frizzy! When your hair is stripped of oil it also causes frizziness.
What happens if you don't wash your hair?
When it comes to not washing your hair, there is a number of both good and bad things that can happen.
The side effects of not shampooing your hair are very much dependent on your hair type and other external factors, but these are a list of general things that can happen when you skip shampoo day.
1. If you already have fine hair, your hair will look thinner
When fine hair goes unwashed it can start to stick together with all the excess oil, which makes your hair look even thinner.
2. An excess of oil can cause ingrown hairs on your scalp
Yep. If you leave the dirt and oil to build up on your scalp you can get some ingrown hairs - not pleasant.
3. Your hair might start to smell musty
Like most things bodily related, if you don't wash properly you will start to smell. The excess oil on your scalp will star the smell 'musty', but if you're trying to go longer between washed just give your scalp a spritz of dry shampoo that acts like hair deodorant.
4. Your hair will be far less frizzy if you skip the shampoo (every now and then!)
This is a fine line to walk because you have to reach the perfect level of oil for frizz-free hair. Alas, it can happen, especially when you start to get into a good hair routine.
5. Dandruff can develop
If you already have dry hair and go a couple of days without conditioner, all the added dirt can lead to dandruff. If you're hoping to skip a day of shampooing but your hair is getting dry just add conditioner to the ends in the shower (not your scalp!)
6. If you overuse products and then don't wash them away, your hair can start to fall out (yes, really)
Don't worry, when we say hair loss we don't mean you'll be going bald anytime soon. However, it is true that if you use products and then don't wash them away, they will build up on your scalp and this congestion can cause loss of hair. Just use fewer products (like dry shampoo) and cleanse your scalp regularly.
Should you always use both shampoo and conditioner?
Shampoo is used to open up the hair cuticles and clean any dirt and buildup that has accumulated over time.
Conditioner, on the other hand, is used to close the cuticles. When you use conditioner you're repairing any colour or environmental damage to the hair, and the conditioner closes the cuticles to help lock in that restoration.
How much of each and if you should be using both products all depends on your hair type, for example; women with fine hair should use less conditioner as the conditioner with weigh the hair down.
In saying this, let's get break down the shampoo and conditioner situation even further for you:
Curly and coily hair: Once a week
If you have curly or coily hair, you should be washing your hair about once or week. People with this hair type have raised hair cuticles which means the natural oils your scalp produce don't travel down your hair strands as fast as people with straight hair.
For this reason, it takes longer for your hair to look 'dirty', which is why a good shampoo paying special attention to your scalp once a week is really all you need.
Straight and wavy hair: Every two or three days
The general rule here is you should be washing your hair every two or three days, but the reality is oiliness will vary from person to person, and it's really all about finding a system that works for you. To maintain a healthy scalp your hair needs to keep its natural oils, so watch out for those signs above that will tell you if you're over washing, and from there figure out a system that suits you and your lifestyle.
Normal to dry scalp: Every three to four days
If your scalp sits more on the dry side, it needs to produce those oils! However, if your feeling like your ends needs a bit of love but you don't want to strip your scalp of its natural nourishment, try applying a few drops of hair oil to the ends.
A very oily scalp: Clarifying shampoo treatment
This is going to sound obvious, but an oily scalp can mean very oily hair. To combat this, wash your hair as normal but try using volumizing shampoos as they help remove excess oils, and give yourself regular clarifying shampoo treatments.
If you get dandruff: Three times a week with special shampoo
Dandruff is not to be confused with a dry scalp. A dry scalp is the result of excess oils, whereas dandruff can be caused by many other factors such as sunburn, dermatitis or excess yeast.
Dandruff with often be large yellow or white flakes and your skin with feel oily and look red and scaly. If you have a dry scalp the flakes will be smaller and you may experience dry skin on other parts of your body.
It's important you use dandruff specific shampoo and wash your hair three times a week using cool water.