When you were a kid, you never wanted to wash your hair. Then you were a teenager with oily hair and had to wash it every day. But as you got older, maybe you started to wonder “How often do I really need to shampoo my hair?”
Shampoo removes oil and excess skin cells from the scalp, but it also strips the hair fibers and can damage the hair shaft. While you don’t want to look like an oily teenager, you also don’t want to end up with dry, damaged hair.
Stylists and dermatologists agree that most people shampoo their hair more than is necessary. Frequent shampooing leads to the overproduction of oils to compensate for the stripping of the scalp. But at the same time, it’s needed for preventing oils and dirt from accumulating on the scalp and causing irritations. In the end, it comes down to your type of hair and how much oil your scalp produces.
There are many different types of hair, and each one should receive a different kind of treatment. Pay attention to the shampoo labels! Shampoos contain a variety of detergents that are specifically made for each kind of hair. Here are some pointers for treating your individual locks.
Fine, oily hair
For fine, oily hair, make sure you use a deep cleansing shampoo designed for oily hair and alternate it with a volumizing shampoo. Chances are you like to wash it every day. However, stylists suggest skipping a day between washings and shampooing three or four times per week. You can also use a powder or dry shampoo in between washings, to absorb oils that build up.
Daily shampooing is only recommended if your scalp produces high levels of oil. If you really need to shampoo daily, it’s best to use a lightweight shampoo or one labeled “everyday shampoo.” These types contain milder detergents and won’t strip your hair as much.
Fine, dry hair
Fine, dry hair needs a shampoo with moisturizing properties followed by a good conditioner. You don’t need to wash it every day, since frequent washing will strip out moisture and make your hair even drier. Stylists suggest shampooing three to four times a week.
If you have very dry hair, you should still use conditioner regularly. But make sure to brush your hair every morning and night to balance out the oil levels.
Curly hair naturally lacks moisture, so you can compensate with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to get strong curls and less frizz.
With curly hair, the oils on the scalp take longer to travel down the strands of hair. This makes the hair remain dry and less oily. People with curly hair don’t need to wash as frequently, and can even wash only once a week. Some shampoo even less frequently and just use conditioner in between washes to maintain moisture.
Coarse, thick hair
Coarse hair needs more moisture, so use a smoothing shampoo that adds moisture while sealing the hair cuticle.
As with curly hair, it takes longer for the natural oils to reach the length of the hair if it’s thick and coarse. This means you can go longer between shampooing, such as once a week.
If you’ve colored your hair, it’s important to use a gentle shampoo that contains protein and always follow it with conditioner. Frequent shampooing will strip away color, but conditioner will help to lock it in longer. To maintain your color, use a shampoo and conditioner specifically made for color-treated hair.
If you have color-treated hair, it’s best not to shampoo as frequently as you did with natural hair. Frequent washing will open the hair cuticles and strip away the color, making it fade faster. Stylists recommend shampooing as little as possible while keeping your hair type in mind. Depending on your hair type, you can wash anywhere between two to three times per week.
A note on conditioner
The biggest problem with conditioner is that people misuse it. Applying globs to your scalp will leave residue and make your hair oilier.
Instead, you should apply it midway down the length of your hair. Massage it through the ends first, then work it up to the roots. The roots don’t need as much conditioner as the middle of the hair. Just remember: shampoo is for the scalp and conditioner is for the hair.
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