How Frequently Should You Wash Your Hair
Author: Sarah Labdar
In Western culture bathing and washing our hair is a natural custom. For some people it is a daily procedure for which they feel is necessary. Washing ones hair is required to remove dirt, oil, excess sebum and chemicals from the environment or from hair products. Washing your hair is a general practice in which most people learn from their parents, or hair care specialists (hairdresser, stylist). Where it differs is how often one should wash their hair.
Determining how often you wash your hair really comes down to personal preference. Medical and hair care professionals disagree about the amount of time in between hair washes. Some advise against frequent shampooing because it leads to an overproduction of sebum to compensate for the removal. Others recommend more frequent shampooing because an accumulation of sebum can lead to oily hair and acne production. Oily or unwashed hair is also unacceptable and unsightly in Western society. It can also feel gross or dirty. However, without sebum or natural oils, your hair becomes dry and can prematurely shed.
Today’s hair washing routines are based on a system of depleting the hair of its natural moisturizing oils by using shampoo and soap and then replenishing it with conditioners. In the 1950’s women had their hair washed and styled once a week at their hairdressers. At the beginning of the 20th century it was recommended to shampoo every two weeks or even longer once a month. It is only in recent years that shampooing daily has become a more frequent hair care practice.
To determine your own frequency of washing your hair consider your hair type, the length and thickness, the use of hair care products, and scalp or hair conditions. People with naturally oily hair should consider washing their hair daily or at least every other day. Short hair or long and fine hair tend to look greasy or oily very quickly because there is less surface area fro sebum to travel down the hair shaft. Therefore these types of hair should be washed daily or every other day. Naturally dry hair is a sign of damage therefore hair should be washed less frequently to allow natural oils to moisturize and heal the damaged hair. Specially formulated shampoos and conditioners can repair dry and damaged hair. Additionally, curly, coarse and thick hairs make it more difficult for natural oils to travel down the hair shaft. Therefore, you should only wash this type of hair 1-2 times a week. Using hair products, chemical processes or heating appliances affect how often you should wash your hair. Adding hair products to your hair causes them to build up on your hair strands. This makes it easier for dirt, dust and pollution to stick to your hair. To remove these hair products wash your hair daily. Chemical process such as perms, relaxers, bleaching or coloring makes hair more fragile. Heating tools such as blow dryers, curling irons, and straighteners dry out the hair exposing it to damage. Excessive washing and drying processed or heated hair can weaken the strands even more. Therefore it is only necessary to wash this type of hair 1-2 times a week or every other day. Lastly if you have a scalp rash or condition such as dandruff, wash you hair daily to reduce oils and yeast that is causing your condition. Medicated shampoos can be used to completely eliminate rashes and flakes caused by dandruff.
If you are unsure of how often to wash your hair try washing daily for a week. Then the following week wash your hair only every other day and see how your hair is affected. If you still can’t decide on how often to wash your hair consult your hair care professional to determine your best course of action.
About the Author
Sarah Labdar graduated with a BA in exercise science and has worked in the medical field since. Her focus is alternative medicine and how it interacts and works in conjunction with traditional medicine. Check out my health website!