How Often Should You Wash Your Hair? | Women’s Hair Care Tips
Many of our CharlieCurls customers and followers ask us about natural hair care and ways to improve the health of their hair. Over time, we have learned a lot about the science behind hair health and ways to keep it at its best. Here we share our knowledge and ask for your input if you have any additional tips!
One of the questions we get a lot is: “How often should I really be washing my hair?”
This question and related follow-up are actually very current talking points amongst hair stylists and those in the hair care industry, because as you’ll read below, recommendations and hair products have really changed over recent times!
However, each person’s hair is unique, so your care regimen and routines should be individualized to you personally; to your preferences and to the current state of your hair health.
How often should I wash my hair?
- Most people should wash their hair only twice (2X) per week. Everyone’s hair is unique and there are exceptions, but generally you want the oils to stay and nourish the hair strands and scalp. The answer also depends on how much and what type of product is used to style your hair.
- Washing hair once a week is best for a good number of women who have coarse, dry, colored or frizzy hair.
- Washing hair every day is usually reserved for very fine, thin hair that looks oily by the end of each day. However, washing hair everyday sends the scalp into overdrive to produce more of the oils that you have depleted by shampooing. A sadistic cycle. When you quit removing most of your hair’s natural oils, oil production can normalize, allowing hair to actually be less “greasy looking” over a longer period of time. Also, any scalp irritation will calm, hair will become better moisturized and sealed, and your hair will look and behave better. It can take a couple of weeks to get to this stage, so if you are game to try and recalibrate, have a couple of cute hats handy or plan to wear your hair in a bun in the interim.
Why is the frequency of washing hair important?
- The hair shaft is alive at its base, under the scalp, but the main hair shaft’s nourishment is maintained by the oils that are generated in glands just under the scalp.
- The oils that originate at the scalp should be spread through the strands to keep them moist and sealed.
“Back in the day” the claim was that you should brush your hair 100 strokes every night. This depends widely on hair type, brush and bristle type, how recently you have washed your hair, and things as diverse as weather conditions, air quality and altitude. But the idea behind the claim is to get your hair’s natural oils spread throughout the hair’s length.
We suggest wooden or natural boar bristles in a paddle style brush to help spread the oils throughout and help with texture. The very best is a combo: boar bristles + wooden bristles in the same brush to easily get through depth of hair with wood while spreading nutrients with the soft boar bristles.
What products are best for washing my hair? What of the multitude of hair care products at the local supermarket, online or even DIY recipes?
- I’d like to start with an anti-shampoo recommendation: Conditioning Cleansers.
Most shampoos contain detergents which are the cleansing and foaming part of shampoo. But detergent strips the natural oils that you do not want stripped. That is the reason for conditioners following your shampoo, to replace the moisture and oils that were stripped along with the dirt.
Chemists have begun to understand how to extract dirt from the hair without disturbing most of the oils. And while we think we don’t want oily hair, really we don’t want the dirt that clings to the oils. We want to keep the oil sealant, removing the environmental “dirts” that have accumulated.
These products do not create SUDS like conventional shampoos. So they are harder to get used to and in our experimentation right now, we are finding that we are using too much, to compensate for the change in routine. But boy, does our hair feel softer after using one of these products over traditional shampoo. Google: “non detergent shampoos” for various brands. We will review many of these products in the coming year. Some choices are by New Wash, Shea Moisture, Matrix, L’Oréal, Pantene, Kérastase, Shu Uemura, Carol’s Daughter, Not Your Mother’s, R&Co, and Purely Perfect.
Most conditioning cleansers also contain a light amount of essential oil, so they condition as well as seal.
- If you stick to shampoos, you generally want to find your hair type: fine, dry, course, colored, damaged, etc., and get a shampoo/conditioner pair that addresses your hair type. This is because science really can identify imbalances in hair health and help to correct them.
- There are a lot of great do-it-yourself recipes for various conditioners, conditioning treatments, shampoo “bars” and DIY essential oil serums. Have fun and try some out!
- Dry shampoo between washes. Another way to cut down on the number of times you actually wash and dry your hair is to use a “dry shampoo” for stretches between washing. Dry shampoos help combat greasiness, keep the natural oils in, while nourishing your hair with a product that reduces the look of greasy hair. We like the more holistic, all-natural, and plant-based ingredients found in the dry shampoos offered by Urban Oreganics (Dark or Light shades available) and La Tierra Sagrada (Blonde Kaolin Clay or Brown Cacao shades). This is an in-between solution, especially when changing your routine, but regular wet cleansing should be part of your regular practice.
What about physical treatment of the hair and scalp?
Massage cleansers or shampoos or conditioners into the scalp gently! Massage is great for stimulating blood flow and for loosening dirt, sweat and excess oil from the scalp area. BUT:
- The hair follicles, where the hair grows out of the scalp are sensitive and like you wouldn’t scratch your face when cleaning, you want to treat your scalp like the beautiful base for your beautiful hair - gently.
- The hair shaft itself needs to be treated kindly also: Hair strands have three layers. The inner core is for strength, the middle core (cortex) houses moisture and the outer layer (cuticle) seals in that moisture. The cuticle (outer layer) is like a shingled roof with overlapping flaps that allow moisture in and out of the cortex, and it wants to be smooth and sealed for shiny, soft feeling hair. If you physically “rough up” the cuticle, you are damaging the hair shaft.
Kristine Akins, founder and inventor of CharlieCurls, used to have medium-short hair and she would towel it roughly thinking that process gave her hair extra “body” and that slightly wild/ fly-away look that she liked. Actually, she was damaging the hair shaft by physically roughing up the layer that wanted to be smooth and sleek! She has since changed her ways and towels very gently, and in fact grown out her hair to a longer look to enjoy using CharlieCurls to style her hair more easily and effortlessly.
What about post-shower natural hair care products?
Use a leave in natural conditioner, anti-static or anti-frizz spritz or our favorite: a bit of argon, jojoba or coconut oil when hair is almost dry.
- When using oil, the three above are some of the only oils that have small enough molecules to penetrate the cuticle (olive oil does too, but it smells a little more like an Italian kitchen than we prefer).
- Use those oils by putting a dime sized amount in your palm, rubbing your palms together and then gently “scrunch” the oil, first into the ends, then lightly down the upper shaft, trying to avoid the scalp directly.
To summarize: Some final words and resources for current hair cleaning trends
The “anti-shampoo” and “no poo” methods are becoming more popular as people embrace the oils that their hair naturally produces to try and maintain optimal moisture and lustre, and steer clear of having frizz issues (more on how to combat frizz coming soon from us). Some women are even washing with just water and conditioner, skipping shampoo altogether! (We suggest reading up on this before trying: Lucy AitkenRead or Ashlee Mayer are both great resources for more.)
The bottom line is to experiment and see what works best for you! Giving your hair extra loving through deep conditioning treatments, taking a gentler approach to drying and skipping the heat as much as possible when you style can really help to restore your hair’s natural health. And if you have not already done so, you might switch up the kind of products you’ve been using for more natural ones, like those that omit sulphates and other oil-stripping detergents. For more ideas, DIY recipes and brush examples, we have been adding to and compiling a collection of pins in one of our Pinterest boards called Hair Care—check it out!
Here’s to healthier hair!
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