How Often Should I Wash My Hair?
It’s truly an arcane art understanding how often you should wash your hair.
Some people swear by a good daily wash, others swear off washing until a good week has passed.
Unfortunately, it’s not a simple answer that can depend on anything from the thickness and length of your hair to the actual colour of it! We’ve broken down some of the big things to think about when trying to set precious time aside to get some hair TLC in.
It’s actually a completely natural process of the body, whereby the sebaceous glands secrete oils that help keep your hair healthy and strong. This results in the feeling of greasy-looking hair, sometimes considered oily, and has a strangely negative public perception that causes all the worry and grief we feel.
Depending on your hair and sebaceous gland activity (yes, everyone is that different!) you’ll need to consider setting aside time to maintain and clean your hair. Don’t be concerned about going that extra day if your hair is on the edge – it’s not actually damaging your hair!
As a general rule of thumb, most experts say that a wash every 2-3 days is sufficient to keep hair looking healthy, clean and oil-free for the majority of people. It’s widely advised to avoid daily washing, as this can actually damage your hair over a long period of time – constant temperature, treating, product and drying will take its toll and you’ll be left with dry, lifeless hair as a result. Furthermore, the amount you wash your hair will actually cause changes to how active your sebaceous glands are at producing natural oils. Frequent washing will simply put them into overdrive and cause more headaches over the long haul.
The thicker your hair, the longer you can go between washes. As the strands have more weight and volume to them, the amount of oil required to make them start to look greasy takes longer, whilst thin hair is much more susceptible to looking greasy and unkempt after just a day or two. Furthermore, straight and curly hair work in much the same way, with curly hair often being on the dry side, leading to lower oil production and longer breaks between washes.
There are a few things you can do to delay the day where your hair washing ritual takes place again. Firstly, avoid the overuse of styling products as much as possible, as the more natural your hair is, the less it will require washing; products tend to dry out your hair quickly and cause excess production of oils in reaction, causing the dreaded greasiness.
Secondly, just try and be patient! You can quite literally train your hair to produce less sebum over time, just by washing it less. Your glands will begin to understand that less sebum is required to maintain your hair, allowing you to wait longer between washes. Some people claim to have their hair washing routine to over a week gap and genuinely believe their hair has never looked better, so it’s something to think about if you can handle a period of grease-city!
Finally, try using dry shampoo if you want to freshen up your do without going all-in on washing it. Dry shampoo is designed to soak up and absorb the greases in your hair, helping to restore shiny and clean-looking hair without the need to wet and dry it! Although this isn’t a complete solution to washing your hair, it can be a lifesaver if you’re trying to spread out between washes and have an important event or just need a confidence boost on a particular day.
The age-old ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ is pretty much a good method to go for, using gentle shampoos and conditioners to clean and strengthen your hair. Soft water can help your efforts by producing a richer and easier lather from your products, as well as being generally cleaner and free from minerals often found in hard water. Not only will you save on the amount of product required to properly clean your hair, but you’ll be getting cleaner results too! A water softener can be installed in your home to tackle your hard water problems.
When drying your hair, be sure to do so as gently as possible. Avoid using hair dryers as much as possible, as this will just damage and dry your hair out quickly. Pat your hair dry with a soft towel as much as you can and, if possible, allow for it to dry naturally for best results. Don’t rub your hair too if it can be helped, as this simply causes unwanted friction where it isn’t required.
Ultimately, the answer is going to be entirely dependant on your hair, which nobody knows better than you. If you’re really unsure, start washing every 3 days and adjust as required. If you really can’t deal with the look on day 3, try switching to 2 days per wash, and if you’re happy with how it looks on day 3, try and stretch out to 4 days. You’ll eventually find the right balance and your hair will thank you for it!