Do you know how often you should wash your hair? Chances are that frequency has changed over the years. At one point, we all believed that all we needed for perfect hair was the right shampoo and conditioner – and to apply it religiously each time we washed. More recently, many people have avidly denounced shampoo entirely, claiming their hair is healthier without it.
We don’t advocate either extreme, but it seems like everyone has a different idea about the frequency that hair washing should take. There are a lot of different factors to take into consideration when deciding how often you should wash your hair. Read on for some deeper insights into the best hair washing schedule for your specific hair type.
Hair Types and Shampoo
- These are agents that help bind and remove water-insoluble compounds in your hair, like oil.
- Conditioning agents. These ingredients help keep the shampoo from drying out your hair.
- pH adjuster. Ingredients like citric acid help bring your hair’s pH down to its natural level.
- These may be natural (like vitamin E) or chemicals.
- Many shampoos use natural fragrances, like essential oils, or chemicals.
- Deionized water. A solvent to increase consistency.
When you shampoo your hair, you’re removing excess oil, sebum, hair care product, and environmental dirt from your hair. You’re also helping to prepare your hair so that it can more readily receive moisture both from the shower water and your conditioner. Shampoo is specially formulated for your hair. It’s not like soap, which can damage your hair.
Shampooing vs. Washing vs. Co-Washing Your Hair
When you research how often you should wash your hair, you’ll come across a few different terms which all appear to reference the same thing. They aren’t. To clarify:
- Shampooing refers to the use of shampoo when washing your hair. Simple, yeah?
- Washing may or may not involve the use of shampoo. For example, you can find instructions on how to wash your hair with apple cider vinegar.
- Co-washing refers to skipping shampoo and simply conditioning your hair. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s a new term. It’s also deceptive because conditioner doesn’t actually cleanse your hair.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair According to Chemistry
The scalp is a sebum-rich, environment which is constantly secreting oils. These oils run down your hair and are responsible for making it look lush and shiny while keeping it soft. This environment is also slightly acidic – hair and the scalp have a pH of 4.5-5. When this environment is working properly, your hair looks nice. Greasy, dull, or brittle hair is a sign that something in this environment has gone wrong.
For a long time, the roles of things like sebum and scalp oils weren’t well understood. If anything, they were treated like something that needed to be banished immediately to maintain an immaculate mane. When awareness of the importance of natural hair oils came to the forefront of the public mind, many people rebelled against the status quo of shampoo and the “no-poo” movement was born.
However, despite the awareness that hair oils do serve an important role, haircare still hasn’t focused on treating hair like an ecosystem. That’s why there’s so much confusion out there about how often you should wash your hair.
The real answer to the question is that there is no real answer. In general, the best way to make sure you’re washing your hair just the right amount is to follow signs, not schedules.
Are You Washing Your Hair Too Much? Here’s How to Tell
Just like washing your face too often can lead to breakouts, washing your hair too often can lead to less than perfect locks that do a number on your self-confidence. We’ve all been there. Over-washed hair blows.
Are you still camping with Team Shampoo Every Day? Depending on your hair type, you might recognize some of these signs:
- Your scalp itches. That’s because you’re drying it out with constant hot water and shampoo applications.
- You’ve got hygral fatigue. Your hair has been over-stretched by excess water and product.
- Your color fades super-fast. If your color-treated hair is back to its original color in just a couple of weeks, you need to lay off the shampoo.
- You get split ends constantly. Your hair is getting damaged from the constant washing.
- Your hair has gone dull and frizzy. Tried everything and can’t get it to spring back to life? Try not washing it for a while and see what happens.
5 Signs It’s Time to Wash Your Hair
Under-washed hair also comes with its own set of problems. If you’ve sworn off shampoo for the last six months, you might notice that:
1. Your Hair Is Greasy or Has Lost Its Shape
Sebum, oil, and product buildup will cause your hair to become greasy over time. It will lose its shape and feel limp.
2. Your Hair Is Chalky, Dry or Brittle
In contrast, your hair might go chalky or brittle from an excess of product buildup. This is a sign that your strands are overloaded with protein.
3. You’ve Got Dandruff
Sebum that isn’t exfoliated will eventually cake onto your scalp, so will product, causing a crust to form that flakes off. Likewise, it can cause moisture to get trapped and cause a fungal infection.
4. Your Hair Smells
Smelly hair is a sign of dirty hair. There could be actual dirt, or it may smell due to a rancid product.
5. Your Products Have Stopped Working
If your product is no longer working, it’s because buildup on your hair or scalp is preventing the fresh product from reaching it. You need to clarify your hair with a good shampoo.
Learn the Signs: Wash Your Hair When It Tells You
How often you should wash your hair depends heavily on your hair. There’s no one hair-washing schedule that’s going to work in all cases. Instead of fretting over whether or not you’re washing it frequently enough, learn to identify the signs of when your hair wants to be washed. By tuning into these signs, you can enjoy beautiful, healthy, happy hair.
Give your hair everything it needs to reveal its natural beauty. Upgrade your pillowcase and your hair towel today.