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When you were young, your parents probably taught you the importance of keeping clean. They probably taught you to shower every day. For a lot of us, showering every day means washing our hair every day.
Keeping clean is obviously important, but washing your hair too often can actually strip it of valuable oils, which can cause dryness. Therefore, washing your hair every day isn’t always the best idea.
And while we’re on the subject, if you shouldn’t wash your hair every day, how often should you wash it? It really depends on your natural hair type and texture, the products you use, and overall lifestyle. Read on to find out more.
Before delving in, let’s look at exactly what shampoo actually does in our hair.
Hair naturally produces an oil called sebum. Shampoo acts as an emulsifier to trap oil, dirt and residue. While you definitely want to rid your hair of dirt and sweat, stripping it of oil can leave it unprotected and overly dry. This can cause your hair to become brittle and more prone to breakage, which is why some people may choose to cut back on shampooing. It’s not just about the frequency you shampoo your hair, but also the type of shampoo you use. Not all shampoos are created equal. There’s a reason your hairdresser doesn’t recommend using a drugstore shampoo. It’s important to use a shampoo with quality ingredients for your hair to maintain a healthy balance.
The answer is: it depends. There is no single answer to how often you should wash your hair. It depends on your natural hair, activity level, and quality of the products you use, but here are some general recommendations you may find helpful.
Fine Hair - Every Other Day: Fine hair can get greasy faster than other hair types, and it really shows! You may want to wash every day to eliminate grease, but this will end up stripping your hair of valuable oils. Instead of washing daily, try washing every other day with a volumizing shampoo. On non-wash days, take advantage of dry shampoos to keep hair looking fresh.
Dense Hair - Once or Twice a Week: Dense hair is better at hiding grease than thin hair. Therefore, you may only need to wash it once or twice a week. Moisturizing shampoo with lightweight oils and proteins will be the most effective in getting your hair feeling clean. You can use a clarifying shampoo every so often for a deeper clean, but be wary of overuse and stripping your hair.
Wavy Hair - Every Other Day or Every Few Days: Waves can easily get weighed down by shampoo, especially if the hair is thin. Use a lightweight shampoo with moisturizing ingredients. If you have wavy hair that is prone to oil, try washing it every other day, if it is ‘normal’ wash your hair every two to three days. If needed, use a dry shampoo in between washes to freshen up your hair and add texture.
Combination Hair - Co-wash Every Three Days: Many people have combination hair with a mixture of a greasy scalp and dry ends. This is especially common in curly hair where it is difficult for oil to make its way down to the ends. Those with this hair type will benefit from co-washing their hair every three days and then using a sulfate-free shampoo every few weeks to remove build-up. We go over co-washing in more detail later in the article.
Oily Hair - Every Other Day: If you have oily hair, you may be tempted to wash it every day. But remember, over-washing can cause dandruff and other issues. Therefore, you will be better off sticking to an every other day schedule. For routine use, use a lightweight volumizing shampoo. Avoid using clarifying shampoos with every wash, instead use every two weeks. Use a clarifying dry shampoo in between washes to keep your hair looking fresh.
Normal - Every Two to Three Days: There’s really no such thing as normal hair, but if your hair isn’t particularly thick or thin, dry or greasy, curly or straight, there’s really no other word for it. This type of ‘somewhere in the middle’ hair will require a shampoo routine that is also ‘somewhere in the middle’. Go for washing it with a sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo every two to three days.
Color Treated Hair - Every Two to Three Days: If your hair is color treated, especially if it’s bleached, it can dry out your hair and potentially affect your natural hair texture. Make sure to use shampoo and conditioner that contains proteins and vitamins to moisturize your hair and help maintain your hair’s health. If you have light blonde hair, we recommend integrating a purple shampoo every couple of washes to neutralize any brassy tones, if you have a dark blonde or light brown color, use a blue shampoo to neutralize.
Damaged Hair - Every Two to Three Days: If your hair is damaged due to bleaching, chemical treatments, or over-styling, a sulfate, color-safe shampoo with plant oils, proteins, and vitamins should be used to wash hair every two to three days. Follow up with a deep conditioning mask once a week.
Yes, the simple answer is because your hair is ‘dirty’, but what constitutes the need for a wash? Here are some of the most common reasons why people might be due for a shampoo.
Oil: Many people wash their hair to get rid of oil. The amount of oil you have in your hair will vary depending on your age, genetics and other factors. For instance, people in their 20’s and 30’s tend to have more oil in their hair than young children or older adults. As you age, natural hormonal changes impact your scalp’s oil production. Therefore, they may want to wash their hair more often than others. People with oily hair may want to refresh their hair using dry shampoo in between washes.
Hair Type: Hair type and oil go hand-in-hand since oil production is impacted by your natural hair texture. The type of hair you have also plays a part in how often you wash it.
If your hair tends to be oily, you will want to wash it more often. On the other hand, some people have very dry hair that can become brittle after just one shampoo. These people may choose to wash their hair once a week or even less.
Thin, straight hair tends to become coated with sebum easily while thick, curly hair does not hold the sebum as easily. This is the reason why people with curly hair need some sort of moisturizing formula to keep their curls defined and their hair frizz free.
African American hair is particularly coarse and can become damaged if it’s washed too often. Therefore, African Americans may want to limit hair washings to once a week or every other week, and could benefit from co-washing every 3 to 5 days. Make sure to use products with moisturizing properties, like a conditioner with lightweight, essential oils. Treat your hair to a deep conditioner or hot oil treatment once a month.
Sweat: Sweat makes your hair look greasy and it doesn’t make it smell great either. If you sweat a lot, you will want to wash your hair more often, and especially after a workout or after wearing a hat. Use a clarifying dry shampoo in between your sweat sesh and hair wash.
Physical Dirt and Pollen: Physical dirt and pollen can also get into hair making it look lifeless and dull. It can also increase allergy symptoms.
If you work outdoors or are an outdoors enthusiast, you will probably want to wash your hair more often, especially if you have allergies.
Product Residue: Styling products are amazing to help you achieve that perfect look, but overuse can contribute to build-up in your hair, increasing the need for washings.
At this point, it should become clear that there really is no one answer to the question, ‘how often should I wash my hair?’ It really depends on the texture of your hair, how dirty or sweaty it tends to get, how oily your hair is and the styling products you use.
However, there are signs that will let you know that you are washing your hair too often and need to cut down. Here are some things to look out for.
Damage: Washing your hair too often can dry your hair out increasing the chances of breakage. If your hair is dry and damaged, it may be because you are washing your hair too often.
If this is the case, consider getting a haircut to remove the damage. Then, resume with fewer washes to see if the condition of your hair improves.
Dandruff: Dandruff can also be a sign that you are over-washing your hair. The itching and flakes may be appearing because the shampoo is drying out your hair.
However, dandruff can also be caused by a buildup of oil that may be the result of not shampooing enough. If you are seeing dandruff in your hair, it will probably be pretty easy to determine whether it is caused by over or under-washing based on your personal habits.
Want to cut back on shampooing but still want the look and feel of clean hair? Here are some alternatives.
Dry Shampoo: Dry shampoo aerosols and powders help absorb some of the oil in your hair, letting you go longer in between washes. If you are trying to wash your hair less but could do without the oil build-up, this may be a good alternative for you. Just like traditional shampoo, not all dry shampoos are the same - ingredients matter. Some dry shampoos can give the appearance of clean hair but are really drying and damaging in the long term. NuMe dry shampoos are formulated with purifying and conditioning ingredients. NuMe’s multipurpose dry shampoos, refresh the hair in between washes without overdrying while also providing some texture.
Co-Washing: Many hair care companies are coming out with cleansing conditioners that work as an alternative to shampoo. The idea is that they clean your hair without the detergent of harsh shampoo and get the moisturizing effects of conditioner.
Here’s a secret about cleansing conditioners: these are not new products, but rather great rebranding. Most conditioners contain mild cleansing agents in the formula, which means you don’t need to go out and buy a new product, you can use your normal conditioner. To co-wash, just skip the shampoo and wash your hair with only conditioner in between your standard washes. While this won’t cleanse your hair as thoroughly as shampooing, it will definitely hold you over until your next full wash.
Cleansing conditioners will also work best with curly or wavy hair. A cleaning conditioner will help define your natural curl pattern and leave hair feeling soft. Whereas those with fine hair may find co-washing weighs their hair down, making it appear flat and more oily.
Water Only: Washing your hair with water only can be effective in eliminating some dirt, pollen and sweat. However, it will not provide a full clean or the moisturizing properties shampoo and conditioner have.
It’s also worth noting that part of the reason your hair becomes dried out due to over-washing is because of the hot water. Therefore, you will want to opt for cooler water, both when washing your hair with water only and in general. This is especially true for those with frizzy hair
NuMe is synonymous with healthy styling. NuMe has spent the last decade elevating the standards of professional hair care with its range of high-performing and award-winning products. NuMe’s natural hair care products are formulated with the highest quality ingredients. Free of nasty chemicals that can irritate and damage your hair and scalp,
NuMe products gently cleanse without stripping your color, volume or shine. Our products harness the power of nature, each formula is rigorously tested to find the right balance of efficacy and nourishment.
All NuMe products are multifunctional and designed to reduce frizz and improve and maintain hair’s natural moisture balance. Our White Truffle Shampoo is infused with natural botanicals to nourish and hydrate the hair. The Vegan Tourmaline Shampoo is formulated with powdered tourmaline crystal to smooth and hydrate and proteins to help repair and strengthen hair. Unlike other brands, our dry shampoos focus on cleansing and nourishment, while doubling as a texturizer and root lifter.