The frequency with which you have a scalp is a hot topic: Some people like to wash their hair at most several days a week, while others wash their mane daily. But how long should you wash your hair to have healthy hair?
The answer is that it depends. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules to follow the frequency of shampooing as the needs of each person’s scalp and hair are different (more about this later).
Finding out the attraction when washing your hair may require some testing. That’s why we consulted with Annie Gonzalez, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, for guidelines that help you figure out how often you should brew your hair for optimal hair and scalp health.
Here are the factors you should consider when building a shampoo calendar:
You may have to wash your hair one to four times per week depending on your age, hair type, products, and how often you exercise.
1. Your hairstyle and texture
The type and texture of your hair will determine the majority of how often you should wash your hair.
If you have straight hair, you may need to wash and nourish your hair regularly 4 times per week. Dr. Gonzalez said: “This type of hair tends to be more oily, and not washing it can create a natural oil that weighs on the hair and makes it soft, dull, and difficult to style.” She adds that washing your hair with a protein-rich shampoo can help boost the volume in each hair.
For people with straight or rippling hair from normal to dry (bad texture), Dr. Gonzalez recommends washing and nourishing hair 2-3 times per week with products that help balance the moisture in the hair and scalp.
And how long should you wash your curly hair? Dr. Gonzalez said coarse, tightly rolled hair needs more moisture and oil to stay hydrated and healthy and less need to wash hair (wash only once or twice a week). She explains: “When you have this hairstyle, washing your hair too often can lose your hair’s natural protective barrier.
2. How often do you sweat?
Exercise will affect how often you should wash your hair. Dr. Gonzalez said: “If you exercise to the point where your hair is sweating, you should wash your hair every time.
That’s because dry sweat can cover your scalp and lead to irritation, inflammation, and dandruff.
3. Use styling products
You may use some kind of hair styling product to soothe your mane, even if it’s just a jar of hairspray. But the number and frequency of use of the product will determine how dirty the lock is and therefore, how often your wires need to be scrubbed.
The best way to analyze when you need to wash your hair is to check the top of your head. “If you feel or see a buildup [i.e. hairdressing product residue] on the scalp, then this is a signal that it’s time to wash your hair,” Gonzalez said. Also, pay attention if the area is itchy or greasy.”
4. Your age
Dr. Gonzalez said: “As people age, their scalp/hair tends to be less oily and they can pass longer without washing their hair.
For example, people who have gone through menopause will experience a decrease in androgens (a sex hormone), leading to a decrease in oil production, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Snacking with certain vitamins and minerals can help improve fatigue. Some of the best foods for healthy hair include oily fish, seeds, and eggs.
Signs It’s Time to Wash Your Hair
Dr. Gonzalez said: When your hair is dirty and you wash your hair, you’ll notice the following signs:
Your hair feels oily.
Your hair smells bad.
You have itching, irritation of the scalp
Over time, not washing your hair regularly can also cause:
Hair is slow to grow.
Signs that you’re washing too much
Finding a balanced shampooing schedule is essential, as washing too much can have unintended consequences.
Dr. Gonzalez said: “Washing your hair too much can lead to brittle, dry, and even shedding hair, especially when combined with tight hairstyles or chemotherapy.
Moreover, washing your hair too often can make your hair more prone to breakage, dullness, and plenty of dandruff. And ironically, your hair may even become more oily if you sul down too often, she says.
How can you safely extend the time between washes?
If you wash your hair too often, you may be wondering how to reduce the number of days you wash your hair to improve the health of your scalp and hair. Dr. Gonzalez says it’s best to cut back on shampooing to help your hair get used to washing it less often.
“First, start by washing your hair day by day (if you haven’t done this yet),” she says. “After a few weeks, your hair will get used to less washing.”
Then, brew your hair every three to four days for a few weeks, and finally, you can even wash your hair once a week, depending on your lifestyle as well as the type and texture of your hair, she says.
Using a dry shampoo can also help absorb oil on your hair and extend the time between washes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, dry shampoo should not be used as a substitute for regular shampoos. Like any product, it can build up on your scalp and over time, cause dandruff and irritation.