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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 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? Read on to find out.
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Before delving in, let’s look at exactly what actually shampoo 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 some of this nasty stuff, stripping it of oil can leave it unprotected and overly dry. This can cause your hair to become brittle and more prone to breakage.
This is why some people may choose to cut back on shampooing.
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People wash their hair for different reasons. 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, your 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. Therefore, they may want to wash their hair more often than others.
Oily hair can also be inherited from relatives as well. 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.
Hair Type: The type of hair you have can also play a part in how often you wash it.
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 free from frizz.
African American hair is particularly coarse and can become damaged or may even fall out if it’s washed too often. Therefore, African Americans may want to limit hair washings to once a week.
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.
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.
Styling Products: Styling products contribute to build-up in your hair and they can also cause damage and irritation. This can increase the need for washings.
Signs You May be Over-Washing Your Hair
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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.
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If you find that washing your hair is damaging it, here are some alternatives that may provide solutions.
Dry Shampoo: Dry shampoos are powders or sprays that don’t actually clean your hair. Rather they absorb some of the oil. 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.
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. To use it, simply apply it to hair as you would any shampoo, let it sit for a while and then rinse it out.
Using a cleansing conditioner is a great way to clean your hair without robbing it of its oils. However, it doesn’t clean as thoroughly as shampoo. Therefore, you might want to avoid using hair styling products, especially those with silicone. Cleansing conditioners do not remove silicone so you will experience a buildup if you are using silicone-based products with these conditioners.
Cleansing conditioners will also work best with curly or wavy hair. Those with thin hair may end up with residue that will weigh their hair down.
Water Only: Washing your hair with water only can be effective in eliminating dirt, pollen and sweat. However, it will not provide the moisturizing properties shampoos 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 when washing your hair with water only and in general.
The number of times you wash your hair each week will vary depending on several factors, but here are some general recommendations you may find helpful.
Fine Hair - Every Other Day: Fine hair may not be as greasy as other types of hair, but when it does get greasy, 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, try washing every other day with a volumizing shampoo.
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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. Shampoos with tea tree oil will be most effective in getting your hair feeling clean.
Wavy Hair - Every Other Day or Every Two Days: Waves can easily get weighed down by shampoo, especially if the hair is thin. If you have wavy hair that is prone to oil, try cleaning it every other day. If it is ‘normal’ wash your hair every two days and use a shampoo with a lightweight moisturizer.
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 are best off co-washing their hair every three days and then using a sulfate-free shampoo every few weeks to remove build-up.
Damaged Hair - Every Two to Three Days: If your hair is damaged due to bleaching or over-styling, a sulfate, color-safe shampoo with plant oils proteins and lightweight oils should be used to wash hair every two to three days. Follow up with a deep conditioning treatment once a week.
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. Try using a sulfate-free, clarifying shampoo that will clean your hair gently without stripping it of moisture.
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.
So, tell us, how often do you like to wash your hair?