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Basic Hair Care: How Often Should You Shampoo?

Feb 24, 2017

Maybe you’ve heard that the less you shampoo, the better for your hair. While some people swear that they need to lather up daily, others say that washing too often can do more harm than good, and deprive your hair of essential oils.

How often should you wash your hair? There is really no hard and fast rule to how many times you should wash it. It all comes down to hair type, lifestyle and personal preference.

“When I think of hair, I often like to categorize it like fabrics--like silk, denim, lace, etc”, shares Abraham Sprinkle, celebrity hairstylist and member of the Keratin Complex International Creative Team. “You don’t wash these in the same detergents, and this holds true for hair and shampooing.”

Here are some helpful hints to help you organize your haircare routine to keep you from over or under washing your hair.

How shampoo works

Shampoo traps oils, and using it too frequently may dry your hair out, leaving it prone to breakage. 

According to Angela Lamb M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine, “Hair produces natural oil called sebum, and shampoo is an emulsifier that captures and traps excess oil, dirt, and product residue, which you then rinse out to clean the hair.” 

Hair type matters

Fine hair doesn’t have as much volume and has a tendency to feel oilier than thicker hair. That being said, even with fine hair washing daily can have harmful effects on your hair. It can lose movement if over or under-shampooed.  

Celebrity stylist Abraham Sprinkle says, "If we're talking normal, fine hair, shampooing 3 times a week is sufficient. Look for something that is light in conditioning, as any added weight can cause the hair to become lifeless." 

Another celebrity stylist George Papanikolas suggests, “You should only use a small amount of conditioner, only apply the product on your mid-shaft and ends."

Thick hair may need more time and effort in the styling department but, compared to fine hair, can go without washing for longer. 

To add more manageability to your hair, a shampoo with smoothing qualities, or one infused with argan or keratin oil would be best. ”I don't recommend washing more than every other day," says Matrix Artistic Director Nick Stenson.

Curly hair can also go a few days between washing. With more curves, oil from your scalp can’t travel as quickly down the strand as it does straight hair. Stylists recommend twice a week with a shampoo with heavy moisturizing qualities.

Relaxed or chemically treated hair tends to be more brittle and fragile. Once a week shampooing with a gentle formula is recommended.

Keratin-treated hair can be a bit complex. You don’t want to wash out the protein from your hair, but at the same time your roots can feel quite oily after a few days from the intensity of the treatment. Lathering up every other day is recommended, making sure to use a keratin-safe formula shampoo.

The strands of color-treated hair tends to be more porous. You must take care not to strip it of anything except dirt and excess product. The dye compromises the health of your hair, so that too much shampooing can cause the color molecule to slip out of the hair follicle. 

We recommend washing twice a week with a color-preserving formula.

Find your formula

Find a shampoo, conditioner and a combination of products that balances your scalp and hair so you can wash it every third or fifth day. Depending on your hair type, the kind of shampoo will vary.

It is always best to keep the conditioner off the scalp completely as this can make the scalp oily and makes your roots oilier. Your scalp should naturally produce enough sebum to properly maintain itself.

There are also a bunch of products in the market for in-between wash days that will help your hair get some extra lift and smell fresh. For instance, dry shampoo works by absorbing oil from your scalp and hair, and making it look and feel freshly washed again. 

Summary

Depending on your hair type you may want to switch up how often you wash your hair. 

If your hair is visibly oily, scalp is itching or of there is flaking because of dirt, those are signs that it’s time to shampoo. 

Choose a shampoo and conditioner suitable for your hair type. Shampoos clean by removing excess sebum from our scalp, but most formulas tend to do too much of that if washed too frequently. 

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