HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU REALLY WASH YOUR HAIR?

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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 every two.  With a lot of us spending more time at home, the temptation to be less stringent in our hair care regimen might be more appealing. However, we can all agree that our hair does require some TLC to keep it looking its best and healthiest.

In the interests of settling the argument, here are our thoughts on the “right frequency” to wash your hair. (Clue: there isn’t one.)

by John Frieda

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T WASH YOUR HAIR 

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Hair produces a natural oil called sebum, which provides moisture and protection for the skin 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 odour from your hair, 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.

SHOULD YOU WASH YOUR HAIR EVERY DAY? 

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The short answer is probably not. Though there’s some debate among 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 hair out, causing damage 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 finer, thinner hair becomes greasy more quickly, requiring more frequent washing, while thicker, coarser hair can go much longer without.
 
Even so, there are a few other factors that come into play, which makes the answer different for every individual.

1. Oil

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-30s produce more sebum than older adults, which is why hair tends to become drier with age. If you feel this describes you, have a look at our products for grey  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 tends not to be 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.  [CM1] As much as the washing of 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. Have a look at our Volume Lift range for other specialised products for fine hair.
  • 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. With very curly hair, you may find your hair needs moisturising and deep conditioning more regularly. Check out our Frizz Ease range for shampoos, conditioners and other products especially designed for curly hair, if you feel your hair has become a victim to damage, read our guide on how to restore curly hair.

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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 – particularly 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

 
It should come as no surprise, but the more product 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 products and avoid the heavier creams which could sit too thickly on your pores. In contrast, if your hair is particularly prone to dryness, then target products aimed at hydration 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. For more tips on detoxing your locks and adding moisture to your hair check out our other articles, or read our summary guide to getting healthy-looking hair.

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