How Often You Should Wash Your Hair – TeenVogue.com
Ever since dry shampoo’s rise to prominence on the beauty shelves, we’ve heard (and sung) its praises endlessly. Between its ability to save precious time by allowing us to skip a wash and reliability to add volume and texture to hair that’s fallen flat or gone greasy, it’s earned a spot at the top of our must-haves list. And while we’ve certainly read how great it is to give your hair a break from daily shampooing, it turns out skipping a wash (or two, or three) can actually be harmful to your hair and your scalp health. Ahead, we asked Anabel Kingsley, Philip Kingsley Trichologist and Dr. Francesca Fusco, NYC-based celebrity dermatologist how often you should actually be washing your hair — and what the deal is with dry shampoo anyway.
Is it really bad to wash your hair every day?
We were pretty shocked when both experts answered no. “Daily shampooing is actually beneficial,” Anabel tells us (as a trichologist, she specializes in the science of the hair and scalp). “The scalp, like most areas of skin, contains many sweat and oil glands, and so it needs to be washed frequently to keep it clean and in good condition,” she explains. Anabel also points out that your scalp’s health is what determines your hair’s health, so not keeping it clean can affect hair growth and shine. She likens not washing your hair and scalp daily to not washing your face. “Your hair and scalp are also exposed to the same pollutants as your face,” she says. “Imagine if you did not wash your face – the same is true of your hair and scalp.” Plus, Anabel and Dr. Fusco both mention that not washing your hair enough is what leaves it looking dull and feeling rough and coated.
Do I have to wash my hair every day?
Kind of. While regularly shampooing your hair is the key to its health, whether you shampoo every day or every other day is dependent on factors like hair type, activity level, and styling habits. Anabel tells us to think of the scalp as an extension of the forehead, but she admits there’s no set rule for washing. “Everyone is different and it’s about finding a balance between what is doable, how you style your hair, and the steps you have to take in order to maintain the health of your hair and scalp,” she says.
As a more generalized rule, if you have fine hair that gets greasy quickly, you should be washing daily to avoid hair that looks limp, weighed down, and dull in appearance. Likewise, if you’re big on playing sports or piling on the dry texturizing spray, you need to wash more frequently. “If you tend to be very active or use a ton of hair product, that can cause buildup on the hair and scalp,” Dr. Fusco says. If you have curly, or natural hair, Anabel says daily shampooing isn’t as realistic. “Dirt and oils are often less obvious on these hair textures, so leaving an extra day may not make a difference to how it looks and feels.”
For color treated or bleached hair, Dr. Fusco recommends making sure you’re consistently using conditioner. “Conditioning is critical and should be done every time,” she says since bleach dries the hair out.
If you have a scalp condition like dandruff, Dr. Fusco says you should especially be washing your hair regularly – and with a specific shampoo. “Use a dandruff shampoo that hydrates and treats the overgrowth of yeast that predominates in individuals with dandruff,” she says, citing zinc pyrithione as an important ingredient to look for. “I like Dove DermaCare Scalp Pure Daily Care Shampoo because it treats dandruff and also ensures hair stays shiny, nourished and not weighed down.” In fact, Dr. Fusco adds, “Dandruff can be a result of not washing as often as you should.”
Dr. Fusco adds that coarser hair types can go longer between washes if they don’t get oily or experience scalp irritation like dandruff. “When they do wash, a double shampoo may feel good and remove any buildup of dirt, oil, and product,” she adds, which can help get the most out of every wash.
What if I rely on heat styling tools?
Your styling choice might be doing more harm than skipping one wash, according to Anabel. “If you straighten your hair every time you wash it, the good of shampooing may be outweighed by the subsequent heat damage.” If you swear by your heat tools (curling wands count, too), Anabel says it’s okay to shampoo every other day as long as you don’t have a pre-existing scalp condition. “You may also want to consider letting the hair air dry or using a less harsh method of heat styling like blow drying on a low heat setting instead of using a straightener,” she says.
How should I wash my hair?
Dr. Fusco says to think about how your stylist washes your hair. “That’s not just a relaxing scalp massage, but an effort to get the scalp and hair totally clean.” To mimic this while you wash, Dr. Fusco says to first use warm or cool water to make sure your scalp and hair are thoroughly wet. Then, pour the shampoo into the palm of your hand and use the balls of your fingertips to lightly massage the scalp and distribute to the ends of your hair. “You don’t need to scrub your hair when you shampoo in order to get it clean,” Anabel explains. “Be gentle and concentrate on your scalp, massaging it after applying shampoo for approximately one minute to help exfoliate the scalp surface and create a lather.”
If you use a lot of styling products in your hair or you’ve gone a few days between washes, Dr. Fusco says you’ll benefit from a second shampoo. Just be sure you’re completely rinsing out the suds after both shampoos. “Insufficient rinsing of shampoo is a very common cause of dull-looking hair,” Anabel shares.
And just like the styling products you look for, both Anabel and Dr. Fusco agree that you should look for a shampoo based on your hair texture. “For instance, a shampoo formulated for fine hair will contain volumizing and anti-static agents, whilst one made for thicker hair textures will have a higher concentration of moisturizing and anti-frizz ingredients,” Anabel says.
No matter what your hair type, Dr. Fusco stresses that you should not be using a clarifying shampoo daily. “It is essentially a super-charged shampoo that helps to rid the hair of excess product buildup, oil, and mineral deposits,” she explains, cautioning that they should be used sparingly. Dr. Fusco adds that using a shampoo labeled as clarifying either weekly or monthly (depending on how much product you use) is fine, but any more than that can be too much of a good thing. If used too often, “they can strip the hair and scalp of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy and shiny,” she says.
Does this mean I can’t use dry shampoo?
We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief because Anabel and Dr. Fusco assure us it’s totally cool to use your dry shampoo – just don’t overdo it. “Dry shampoo is fine to use, but it’s very important to remember that it doesn’t permanently replace water and liquid shampoo,” Dr. Fusco reminds us, likening dry shampoo to using a blotting sheet on your face (aka it temporarily reduces the oil, but doesn’t leave the skin clean). In fact, as opposed to cleaning the scalp and hair like actual shampoo does, dry shampoo causes buildup, which can in turn cause scalp irritation.
When you do reach for your dry shampoo, Anabel says to use a dry shampoo with scalp benefits. “We make a dry shampoo called One More Day that contains zinc PCA to help regulate oil production and soothe irritation, allantoin to alleviate itching, bisabolol, an anti-inflammatory agent, and fine rice starch particles, which add weightless volume and texture,” Anabel recommends.
Photo Courtesy of Instagram/@kristin_ess.