The hair-washing debate has been going on for years, with answers to “How many times a week should you wash your hair?” ranging from every day to once a week.
We can all agree that our hair does require some TLC to keep it looking its best and healthiest – but you may find that your hair type dictates how often you wash it, and the products you use.
In the interests of settling the argument, here’s our guide to how often to wash your hair, depending on your hair type.
Should I wash my hair every day?
The short answer is probably not. Though there’s some debate among haircare experts on this one, the overwhelming opinion is that, for most people, washing your hair every day is unnecessary. In fact, particularly for people with tight curls, over-washing your hair can dry your hair out, causing damage, split ends and breakage over time.
When it comes to how many times a week you should be washing your hair, there’s no straight answer. This is because your routine will depend on a number of things, not least your hair type. The general consensus is that fine hair becomes greasy more quickly, requiring more frequent washing, while thicker, coarser hair can go much longer without a wash.
What happens if you don’t wash your hair?
Hair produces a natural oil called sebum, which provides moisture and protection for the scalp and hair. Shampoo is an emulsifier which helps to trap excess oil, dirt and product residue which can then be cleaned away. While you definitely want some natural oils to remain in your hair, not washing your hair will allow oil, dirt and grime to build up on your scalp. This can lead to a greasy appearance and unpleasant odours, as well as conditions such as dandruff and an itchy scalp.
Scalp build-up as a result of not washing your hair could also lead to the follicles becoming trapped, potentially affecting your hair growth and increasing the chance of ingrown hairs.
On the other hand, there are some benefits to not washing your hair unnecessarily. Over-washing strips your hair of its natural oils, causing it to become dull, dry and brittle.
Which factors affect how often you should wash your hair?
Although your hair should maintain some natural oils, no one wants greasy hair. Excess oil can leave your hair lank, attract dirt, and contribute to skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
The amount of oil your hair produces depends on your age, genetics and environment. Teenagers and adults in their 20s to 30s produce more sebum than older adults, which is why hair tends to become drier with age. If you feel like this describes your hair, have a look at our products for grey hair and tips for taking care of grey hair.
If your hair naturally produces a lot of oil, then you might find you need to wash your hair every day. However, this isn’t the case for most people, who should only need to wash their hair every 2 – 3 days - depending on the different factors listed below.
2. Hair type
Hair type is one of the biggest elements influencing how often you should condition and shampoo your hair. Although washing your hair is important, it’s also vital to ensure you are using the right products for your hair type to guarantee good health, moisture and maintenance.
How often to wash thin hair:
Thinner, finer textured hair tends to become greasy more quickly. As a result, people with thin hair may need to wash their hair every 1 to 2 days using a lightweight shampoo and conditioner for fine hair. Our Volume Lift range is the perfect choice for fine hair which needs a boost.
How often to wash medium hair:
If your hair isn't super fine, you can probably afford to go a little longer in between washes. For medium textured hair, shampooing every 2-4 days is usually enough, or whenever you feel your hair needs it.
How often to wash thick hair:
For people with thick, coarse hair, you may only need to shampoo from one to every two weeks - especially if you have very tight curls, which can become damaged with over-washing and styling. If you have very curly hair, you may find your hair needs moisturising and deep conditioning more regularly.
Check out our Dream Curls range for shampoos, conditioners and other products especially designed for curly hair. If you’re concerned about damaged curly hair, read our guide on how to repair curly hair back to its bouncy best.
3. Physical conditions
This one seems obvious, but often gets missed out in the hair-washing debate. Your environment and lifestyle has as much of an effect on how often you should condition and shampoo your hair as your age and hair type.
If you live in a big city, then dirt and pollution can quickly get trapped in your hair. On the other hand, if you live in the countryside or spend a lot of time outdoors, your hair is at more risk of collecting pollen – which can pose a problem if you have allergies.
How much you sweat is also a huge factor in how much you need to wash your hair. If you do a lot of exercise, then you’ll likely need to wash your hair more frequently to prevent it from becoming dirty. Activities such as cleaning, gardening, and other labour-intensive tasks may all require you to shampoo more regularly.
Even just deciding how to wear your hair to the gym can be a faff. Discover our easy workout hairstyles to keep you cool, and combat sweat while you’re exercising.
4. Products and styling habits
It should come as no surprise, but the more products you use on your hair, the more you may need to wash it. While products are essential for moisture and maintenance, heavy product use without regular washing can lead to build-up and irritation.
Choosing the right products for your hair type is equally important. For example, if your hair is on the oily side, go for lightweight hair products and avoid heavier creams and serums which will weigh down your lengths. By contrast, if you’ve got dry hair then choose hydrating hair products to ensure it gets the moisture it needs.
The bottom line is, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to your hair care regimen. While shampooing every day is excessive for most people, how often you should wash your hair depends very much on your hair type, lifestyle, and personal preference.