How Often Should You Really Be Washing Your Hair?

 

Many of us have the belief that the less you wash your hair, the better. But this isn’t necessarily true. For some people, not washing your hair regularly can be doing more harm than good.

So why do we think washing your hair often is such a terrible thing? In the past few decades, we saw consumers and brands jump on research that suggested that some hair care ingredients may cause cancer or can severely damage the hair. This lead to movements where women washed their hair less and less or even gave up shampoo entirely to devastating results.

Times Are Changing
The hair care industry has seen a lot of change the last decade. In more recent times, we've seen brands launch safer sulphate-free/paraben-free products and most notably, the rise of the natural beauty market. Shampoos are becoming safer and safer. The market is flooded with natural options from both big players and smaller niche brands. We now have access to a wealth of non-irritating and non-harmful shampoo options that can effectively clean the hair.
So How Often Should You Be Washing Your Hair?

The answer to how often is no longer based on avoiding harmful ingredients in shampoo but more to do with your personal circumstances and preferences. We must be aware that washing your hair is a critical part of a hair care routine. Although sebum is a great natural conditioner, leaving it on the scalp for too long can clog the hair follicle and cause hair loss. Even worse, bacteria can thrive in the build up of grease, producing odour, dandruff and even more hair loss. It's important that we find the right balance between washing too often and not washing enough.

Sweat and Humidity

If you regularly head to the gym or live in a humid climate, it'd be best to wash every day to remove the buildup of sweat in your hair. Although sweat has some moisturising properties, it also contains sodium, and when left unwashed, dehydrates your hair and scalp.

Polluted Environments
Living in urban areas with moderate to high levels of air pollution poses a risk to your hair health. Toxic micro-particles in the air bind to your hair causing damage and dullness to your stands. Furthermore, the toxins increase oxidative stress on the hair follicle cells, leading to increased hair shedding. If you live in a polluted environment with high levels of air pollution, it's recommended that you wash daily to ensure your hair and scalp stays clean and healthy.
Fine or Thin Hair
Fine or thin hair spreads oil along the strands quicker than other hair types. If you have this hair type, you can opt to wash your hair as regularly as every day, so long as you use a gentle shampoo with mild detergents. If you prefer not to wash daily, a dry shampoo is a great alternative in between washes. You must, however, make sure to wash your hair within a day or two of dry shampooing to remove the chemicals laying on your scalp that can lead to irritation.
Normal, Unprocessed Hair

If you have this hair type, lucky you! It's the most low-maintenance of all hair types! It doesn't get oily too quickly and holds moisture well. You'll find that you only need to wash every other day or less.

Thick, Curly or Processed Hair
These hair types should be washed less often as they tend to have a structure that makes it more susceptible to dryness. Washing too often may lead to brittle hair prone to breakage, so washing once or twice a week is best. Oil takes longer to travel down the strands of thick hair so, fortunately, it’s much more bearable to wash less often compared to other hair types.

My Shampoo Recommendations

I've tried over a hundred different shampoos over the years (I've been battling a haircare shopping addiction since I got my first job back in high school) and I've compiled a list of my  favourite shampoos for daily, every other day and once weekly washing. I tend to gravitate towards mid to high-end hair care products as the quality makes a huge difference to my hair. Sulphate-free/Paraben-free products will also tend to cost more as they require more complex formulations and it is almost always well worth the higher price tag.

Daily

YAROK Feed Your Moisture Shampoo - It’s so gentle that you can use it daily and it contains a bunch of botanicals, vitamins and minerals to improve your hair as you wash. I brought this with me when I travelled through Thailand and China and needed to wash my hair every single day.

John Masters Organics Bare Unscented Shampoo - This shampoo is another great gentle option. They even left out fragrance altogether as synthetic fragrance is slightly drying to the hair. It also contains 14 plant extracts and oils which are always necessary for a daily shampoo!

Every Other Day
Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Shampoo - This one is still my all time favourite; it has everything I love in a shampoo. What I love most is that it doesn’t strip your hair of moisture and doesn’t weigh it down either. It also smells lovely and makes your hair look fabulous. Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo - Another great sulphate-free shampoo. It's particularly great for damaged hair because it doesn't contain detergents (main ingredients are just coconut oil and shea butter!) and it's affordable too!
Once or Twice a Week

Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo - This one is very powerful and removes the build-up of sebum and product residue that tends to occur when you don’t wash your hair often enough. I love how my hair feels after this but I'd only use it if I haven't washed my hair in at least 4 or 5 days, or if I'm trying to wash silicones out of my hair. The shampoo is part of the invati™ system that claims to reduce reduce hair fall by unclogging and stimulating your hair follicles. I haven't committed to these products long enough in order to see an effect. I absolutely love this shampoo though!

Ouidad Waterworks Clarifying Shampoo - My favourite for summer. The shampoo is designed for curly hair but I find it to be the best one I've tried for washing out all the gunk left behind by sea water, chlorine and any product buildup. It's super gentle, works well for coloured hair and won't dry your hair out either.

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Summary
Washing your hair daily can be healthy as long as it fits your circumstances, so don't be afraid to wash more often if required or less often is that's what your hair needs. When I decide to go jogging twice a week and then go hiking another 3 times in that week, I'll wash my hair five times that week. If I spend the entire week working from home and buried in work, I'll wash my hair less frequently. When I'm travelling through polluted cities, I'll make sure to wash my hair every single night I'm on holiday. How often you wash depends entirely on your circumstances. The most important thing to keep in mind is choosing the right shampoo for your hair.
What hair type do you have and what have you found to be the best washing frequency for your needs and concerns? Would love to know in the comments!
If you want to dive deeper into my hair care secrets and learn how to save money while growing your longest and strongest hair yet. Check out my The Hair Growth Lab to find out more!