I remember attending one of my first natural hair expos here in Virginia back in 2010, and one of the most commonly asked questions to the speakers was, “How often should you wash your hair?” Every speaker, though all professional hair stylists, gave a different answer pertaining to hair washing frequency. My mom and I walked away from that event thoroughly confused and frustrated. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t just one answer to the question. After speaking to a friend of mine who has years of experience as a hair stylist and salon owner, I learned that it just isn’t that simple. Though it would be ideal, one universal hair washing routine made to accommodate every hair type does not exist. Wavy hair, straight hair, curly hair, thick hair, fine hair - the list goes on.
Why How Often You Should Wash Your Hair Is Not an Easy Question to Answer
There are several things that play into establishing a healthy hair care regimen, which includes a cleansing routine. Your lifestyle, pre-existing hair and scalp conditions, and the products you use all play a part into how often you should shampoo your hair. Curl pattern and sebaceous glands are also factors to consider when creating a shampooing routine.
Generally speaking, the majority of people, regardless of their hair type or hair texture, can go two to three days without washing their hair. For those of us with textured hair, our sebum – the natural oil our scalp produces – takes much longer to travel down the hair shaft than those with straight, fine hair. You may find that you can go well beyond two to three days before your hair is visibly dirty — maybe even a week or two.
The Dangers of Over Washing Your Natural Hair
Over-washing your hair every day or more will dry out your hair because you are stripping the hair of its natural oils produced by the sebaceous glands. Frequent shampooing also means frequent styling, which can do more harm than good and ultimately lead to damaged hair. However, if you have short hair, you may be able to get away with washing your hair every day because each hair strand doesn’t go through as much manipulation as longer styles.
Should You Wash Your Hair More Often?
If you have oily hairand an itchy, flaky scalp, then these are signs that it’s time to wash your hair and scalp. If you work out frequently or sweat a lot, then you may need to increase how often you wash your hair. Sweat is mostly water, but it also includes salts and other impurities that can settle on your scalp if you don’t cleanse the skin.
I have a scalp condition that falls under the seborrheic dermatitis umbrella, where my scalp over produces sebum. The excess sebum then dries and forms scale-like build-up on my scalp. Changes in weather conditions, stress levels, and hormonal changes can all cause a flare up with sebum production. This means that I have to change my washing routine often. Sometimes, I can go a week or two between washes, but during flare ups, I may need to cleanse my hair and scalp every three to four days.
How Your Hair Products Can Affect Your Routine
Many of the products on the market contain oils and butters that can weigh down the hair. This is the case as well with DIY products. Even though these oils and butters are natural, they can still cause build up around the hair follicle, shaft, and strand. They can also attract dirt and dust from the environment, so washing regularly will help remove it from the hair and scalp.
There are so many factors are involved when it comes to how often you should wash your hair. The most important thing is to listen to your hair and scalp, and when you notice the signs of dirty hair and scalp, then you know it’s time to wash your hair.