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!

Comments

  1. I have to convey my passion for your kind-heartedness in support of men and women that absolutely need assistance with this one concept. Your special commitment to getting the message all around appeared to be extremely insightful and have truly allowed individuals much like me to arrive at their dreams. Your new warm and helpful tips and hints indicates a whole lot to me and somewhat more to my office workers. Thank you; from all of us.

  2. I must express my appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this scenario. Because of browsing through the internet and coming across views which were not powerful, I figured my entire life was gone. Existing without the approaches to the issues you’ve sorted out all through your entire short article is a critical case, and the ones which could have negatively damaged my entire career if I hadn’t encountered the website. Your personal understanding and kindness in dealing with the whole thing was excellent. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a step like this. I can at this moment relish my future. Thanks a lot so much for this professional and results-oriented help. I won’t hesitate to refer your blog to any person who ought to have recommendations on this area.

  3. Hi sara,thank you very much for your guidance 😍😍
    l have thick and thin hair at the same time,what should I do?
    which shampoo is better for me?and how times should l use conditioner?
    thank you so much agin❤❤

  4. By dealing together, you both can address problems of self-esteem and mutual trust. He is content, as well as the the complete opposite of our thoughts later years has in store for us.

  5. Sarah you honestly inspire me to create my own blog but I could never do it considering I don’t travel a lot. How did you create your blog if you don’t mind me asking.

    • You can create a blog even if you don’t travel much! I’m sure you have special interests or knowledge that many people would find valuable. I created my blog on wordpress; just sign up, customize the look and feel and then post! 🙂 It’s really simple. Please let me know how you go! <3

  6. Hello Sarah, thankyou for sharing, you are really amazing and gorgeous. i wan to ask you something, i have thin hair and bald spot. Do you have any tips or advices for regrow the hair in that bald spot ? I’ve been using castor oil and tonic, but it’s doesnt even help.

    • Hi Veeve! Can I ask how long this bald spot has been around? It could be that this patch on your scalp is going through telogen phase which lasts around 3 months. This is when the hair falls and the follicle stays dormant for a few months. If the patch has been there for only a short time, you’ll find that hairs may sprout in the next few months as your hairs in that little patch enter anagen and start to grow again. In the meantime, keep giving this patch a regular scalp massage. Castor oil is great for this 🙂 Hope this helps!

      • Sarah thankyou for replying, you are so kind ^^ . it’s been so long, almost 3 years till now :((, that’s what make me super sad. i used to pull my hair when i saw my hair is frizzy and dry. maybe i pulled so many hair at that area. that’s why now it became bald spot. i feel so stupid and sorry for doing that, now i really wish it could grow.

  7. Hi Sarah, Thanks to your blog. Some says that u shouldn’t wash your hair everyday. But, now, its alright to wash it often, I know now. Hehe. But I’ve been struggling the root ends of my hair was dry, maybe because of the hair dye also yet I haven’t died my hair for 7months because Im afraid thay it would damage my hair more. What should I do then? (I asked my mom to trim the damage end of my hair also).

    • Hi Micah! Dying your hair will definitely make it more dry, I struggle with the same thing. If you choose to dye your hair, you need to put in the extra effort to take care of it because the dye has weakened your hair’s structure. Be sure to trim your ends when they start to split and give yourself a moisture + protein treatment once a week. If you would rather not deal with all the effort of doing this, then it would be best to stay away from the hair dye. For now I prefer to do the work but one day I will stop dying it because it is very exhausting sometimes xx

  8. Hejj Sarah, I’ve been reading the whole thing and i’m kinda shocked. People have been telling me all my life to wash my hair less to get thicker hair. Now my hair is really thin even after a year of not using any chemicals or heat products. After 3 days not washing my hair it even feels terrible and dry, so from now on I will start washing it more frequently, definetely! This might be the easiest solution which I didn’t even think of. Recently I started washing my hair with kerastase (nutritive) shampoo and instead of the conditioner, I use the deep conditioning hair mask (also nutritive). These products make me and my hair very happy! Oh, and thank you for sharing this, it makes really sense. I am so excited for more! Hugs, Julia

    • Hi Julia! I hope this article helps you find a solution to your hair care problems. I often skip conditioner and deep condition instead too. It’s the same thing as conditioner, just much more nourishing 🙂 When you shampoo, remember to target the scalp rather than the ends. It’s important you get all the gunk out of your follicles to promote hair growth. Wishing you all the best, xxx

  9. This post is amazing !! For years people have been telling me to wash my hair less and I feel that this is what has ruined my hair. I use to have thick long hair and my hair has thinned out sooo much! I’ve had dandruff since I was a teen and everyone told me I needed to wash my hair less (once a week). I’ve been doing this since I was a teen and my dandruff has only gotten worse. I think my hair follicles are getting plugged which is causing my hair loss. I’m definitely going to try some of these gentle shampoos you talked about in your post! Thank you so much for creating this blog and sharing your wisdom with everyone !

    • Hi Jackie! I’m so glad you found my post helpful! I truly hope you can get your hair back on track with my tips! 🙂 I also washed my hair less back when I was younger and heard that shampooing was bad for your hair. Then I found myself with dandruff for the first time in my life! So I did a lot of research and starting shampooing more depending on my situation and that cleared up the dandruff really well, but most importantly, my hair grew much thicker because I no longer suffer hair loss 🙂

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