How often should you wash your hair?

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How often should you wash your hair?
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It’s no secret that hygiene products can get pretty pricey — especially if you’re buying the women’s versions. And how often you buy and use certain products can have a big impact on your monthly budget.

There are certain products you probably need to use every day, like face wash, soap etc. — but what about shampoo? If you’re washing your hair too often, you could be throwing a lot of money down the drain — and damaging your hair at the same time!

According to shampoo-maker Procter & Gamble, Americans wash their hair an average of 4.59 times per week — twice as much as Italians and Spaniards. But is that really necessary? Experts say no. And in fact, they say that’s way too often, because shampooing your hair too much strips it of beneficial oil, called sebum.

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How often should you wash your hair?

According to Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at the Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology in New York, you should really only wash your hair two to three times per week — at most.

“If you wash your hair every day, you’re removing the sebum,” Hanjani told NPR. “Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil.”

Other experts say it’s OK to wash daily, unless it starts to lead to hair breakage — flyaways and baby hairs around the crown of the head. But even though it’s OK, dermatologists say it definitely isn’t necessary, and really isn’t good for your hair.

Read more: Scientists say a messy bed is a healthier bed

Determining your personal routine

How often you wash your hair may also depend on your hair type. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if your scalp is naturally very oily, you can wash your hair more often — even daily — without worrying about damaging your hair. Also, if you have chemically-treated hair, it’s probably not as oily, so you should wash it less often. And the AAD says that as people get older, their scalp produces less oil, so they don’t need to wash their hair as often as they used to.

If your hair starts to get greasy, or you just feel like it does, experts say you can incorporate a dry shampoo into your routine — so wash your hair every other day, or every few days, and then use the dry shampoo on the other days.

Here are a few factors to consider to determine how often you should wash your hair:

  • Normal to dry hair: Only need to wash once or twice a week, according to Columbia University’s ‘Go Ask Alice.’
  • Fine hair: Daily or every other day, but it still depends on your personal preference.
  • Thicker, coarser, curly hair: Only twice a week.

While expert opinions may differ some, most agree that how often you wash your hair really comes down to personal preference. They also say that even if you don’t wash your hair often, you should still make sure to clean your scalp twice a week to avoid too much oil production and product build-up.

There are also ways to wash your scalp and hair more effectively, in order to keep them healthy and to avoid wasting shampoo.

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Here are some tips from the ADA:

  • Wash oily hair more frequently.

  • Wash chemically-treated hair less frequently.
     
  • If you see flakes in your hair, you may not be shampooing enough. This can lead to dandruff and other scalp diseases.
     
  • Concentrate shampoo on the scalp: When you’re washing your hair, concentrate primarily on cleaning your scalp, rather than washing the entire length of the hair. The ADA says, ‘washing only your hair can create flyaway hair that is dull and coarse.’
     
  • Use conditioner after every shampoo unless you use a “2-in-1” shampoo, which cleans and conditions hair. Here are a few ways conditioner can help:
    • Improve the look of damaged or weathered hair by increasing shine.
    • Decrease static electricity.
    • Improve strength of hair.
    • Protection from harmful UV rays.
       
  • Concentrate conditioner on the tips of the hair: Don’t use conditioner throughout the entire length of your hair, but instead just on the tips of the hair — not on the scalp. 
     
  • Choose a shampoo and conditioner formulated specifically for your hair type.
    • If you color your hair: Use a shampoo designed specifically for color-treated hair.
    • If your hair is damaged or chemically treated: Try a “2-in-1” shampoo. 
       
  • Protect hair when swimming. Protect your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine:
    • Wet and condition your hair before swimming.
    • Wear a tight-fitting swim cap.
    • Use a specially formulated swimmers shampoo and deep conditioner after swimming to replace lost moisture.

The ADA also says that the price of shampoos and conditioners does not determine how effective it is — most brands have the same benefits. So you don’t need to buy the most expensive shampoo in order to keep your hair healthy!

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Alex Thomas Sadler About the author:
Alex is the former Managing Editor of Clark.com.
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