How Often Should You Really Be Washing Your Hair?

A woman lathering shampoo on her hair in the shower.

Does your daily shampoo routine seem to be drying out your hair? Well, it might be. We asked an expert how often we should be washing our hair, and the answers could transform your locks forever.

Most likely, you’re used to washing your hair every time you take a shower. It turns out, this might not be the best course of action for everyone. We approached Dr. Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist, to get the scoop on how often you should be shampooing, so let’s take a look!

Should You Wash Your Hair Every Day?

Two pump bottles of shampoo and conditioner in a shower.

The biggest question many folks have about hair care is whether shampooing is necessary every single day. According to Garshick, the answer to that question varies based on a number of factors.

“When you wash regularly,” Garshick said, “you help to eliminate the build-up of excess oil, dirt, dead skin, and debris. That said, some individuals can wash 1-2 times per week without running into any issue. It is important to remember that shampoo is meant for the roots and is not needed on the ends of the hair.”

Different hair types and styles can also affect how frequently someone’s hair needs to be washed. This is particularly true when it comes to Black hair or those with tight curls and texture. In these cases, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing less frequently, such as once a week or once every other week.

Natural hair in protective styles can often last toward the longer side of that equation, but it will still need to be washed. Specific care for individual hairstyles is best recommended by your hairstylist. Also, if you have any medical skin conditions, washing more or less frequently might also be helpful for controlling those.

“If you have a dry scalp,” said Garshick, “it can be helpful to wash less often to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils. If you have an oily scalp or suffer from dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, which can result in a flaky, red, or itchy scalp, it may be best to wash more frequently.”

What Should You Do Between Washes?

A woman with dark hair; a blue bottle of dry shampoo

The same as shampooing, what you should do between washes will also vary, depending on your lifestyle, hair type, and other factors. Some folks might not have to do anything at all, while others might need a “refresh” with a dry shampoo, although that comes with its own problems.

“Dry shampoo can be helpful to prolong the time between washes,” Garshick said, “but can create buildup that leads to irritation.”

Dry shampoo typically comes in a spray bottle. After you apply it, it absorbs any sweat, oil, and grime from your hair. Then, you can just shake or comb it out to remove any loose particles. There are tons of dry shampoos out there, so you might want to experiment a bit and see what works best for you.

Living Proof Dry Shampoo is a classic choice, while Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo Dark Tones is popular for use on Black hair.

So, what about just rinsing your hair between washes without using shampoo? According to Garshick, this might not be all that helpful.

“Rinsing without shampoo may help to prevent dryness of the scalp,” Garshick said, “but it may not be as effective to fully cleanse the scalp and eliminate buildup, oil, and residue. Additionally, water can also be irritating on the scalp and potentially contribute to dryness.”

There’s also the option of “co-washing,” or washing your hair with a silicone-free conditioner instead of shampoo. It’s popular with people who use temporary or semi-permanent hair dyes, to help the color last longer.

People with curly, textured, or unusually dry hair might also benefit from co-washing. On the other hand, those with fine, straight, or oily hair might find the conditioner weighs down their hair and makes it appear greasier.

Keeping your hair healthy doesn’t have to be a hassle. With these easy tips and a smart washing routine, you can find the perfect balance for your particular hair type. And don’t forget to pamper yourself with an at-home salon-style treatment sometimes, too.

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