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How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

By: Maggie Young

The quest for a voluminous, shiny, but notoily hairstyle may mean simply doing less with your locks in general. We are used to hearing constant messages about doing and adding more when it comes to our beauty regimen, but in order to maintain a healthy scalp and hair, the opposite is true.

The more we wash, style, dry, and color our hair, the less healthy it becomes. “By not cleansing hair daily, one can avoid, not only the drying effects of water and shampoo, but also the damaging effects of heat styling,” Cricket Miner, Uppity Sisters salon co-owner and professional hairstylist, tells Lively.

What Dictates Hair Health?

It turns out there is a lot of science behind a beautiful head of hair. “The main job of shampoos, which contain a certain pH and surfactants, is to remove oil, dirt, and debris to prevent issues of the scalp skin,” says Miner. The catch is that hair strands are much weaker than the scalp skin, so what is cleansing for the scalp is simultaneously damaging for the hair strands. It’s important to cleanse the scalp as a healthy scalp produces healthy hair, but it may not need to be done daily.

Balancing scalp and hair health is a tricky undertaking and that is where decreasing hair washes plays a big role. “One of the ways that we try to balance the good effects on the skin and the bad effects on the hair is to recommend not using shampoos every day,” shares Miner.

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Determining Your Hair Washing Schedule

Of course, there isn’t a magic formula to how many times each person should wash his or her hair per week, but there are helpful clues to figure out what works best for your hair. After all, we have different lifestyles, environments, hair thickness, hair color, color treatment, skin type – the list goes on! All of these factors affect how often your tresses need to be washed. It really comes down to experimenting and watching for these signs as to when you should scale back on the washes or step up your routine.

“If there is an appearance of heavy oil or a thick, scaly residue, it’s time to wash,” says Miner. “Blemishes and foul smell of the scalp are also good clues.” On the flip side, if the scalp is tight or there is a dry flake, it can be a signal to try going a day or two longer between washes. This can happen more in the winter since artificial heat sources can be super drying.

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A Hair Pro's Advice 

Miner recommends dry shampoos – especially for the in-between wash days – as they are formulated with ingredients that help to wick away oil from the scalp and hair. “My favorite trick for using them is to apply at night before bed,” advises Miner. “This helps to give the product time to absorb oil and saves precious time in the morning.” In addition, use a boar bristle brush as boar hair naturally attracts oil from the scalp and distributes it. Another way to ease the transition is to rock more voluminous hairstyles and avoid flat and contained hairstyles like ponytails. Be patient with the process as it can take a few weeks for your hair to adapt to this routine. Of course, consult your professional hairstylist for personalized recommendations. No one knows your hair more than you … and your go-to hairstylist.

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