How often is too often to wash your hair?
And how little is too little?
Over the last few years, there has been this trend of washing your hair as little as possible. How did it develop and is that really so much better?
Washing hair very often is supposed to dry it out and eventually lead to split ends and breakage.
Well, I wanted to have long hair, so I tried this trend and failed miserably!
After about 5 days my hair started itching so much that I started scratching to the point that I had little cuts or wounds all over my scalp. Definitely not a trend for me.
Washing my hair frequently is very important to me, not because of having greasy hair but because I am in love with hair oiling! I love hair oiling to promote hair thickness and hair growth and I like to do it every 2 days, so I have to wash my hair accordingly. I can’t run around for days with the amount of oil I actually put into my hair.
I started to feel guilty about washing my hair so often. After all I oiled my hair to make it healthier and what good would it do if in return I ended up reversing that process, because of the frequent hair washing? So I wondered if it was really so damaging?
After a little bit of research I concluded:
It depends on your hair type and on how you proceed after washing, which shampoo, conditioner and styling products you use and how much heat you apply.
And above all, it depends on when you think your hair needs washing. When does it start to become oily and when do you start to feel uncomfortable with it?
Generally the curlier your hair, the drier it is and the less often you will need to wash it. Whereas very fine and pin straight hair tends to become oily only hours or a day later so that you feel like washing it already the next day. And that is okay!
What really damages your hair:
The process of washing hair is not the most damaging part, it is the heat appliance and the products that you use.
- Heat is your worst enemy. Blow dryers, hair straighteners, curling irons are drying out your hair and thus cause split ends and breakage.
- Shampoos with sulfates are too harsh to be used frequently or at all. They will greatly damage your hair in the long run.
You can safely wash your hair every day or every other day if you use a very mild shampoo without sulfates or silicones and skip any heat, not even a blow dryer.
Washing your hair too little can actually be bad for you!
The longer you wait, the greasier your hair becomes. This can cause an unhealthy scalp, because greasy hair attracts a lot of dust. Your scalp then may become itchy and the chance of developing scalp infections is more likely. Also stretching out the number of washes often calls for those oh so trendy dry shampoos. Dry shampoos can actually really dry out your scalp and eventually cause hair fall.
Also having hair gel / hair spray on your hair and scalp for several days will cause build up, irritation and may lead to hair fall/breakage if not removed frequently.
Can you train your hair to be fresh for longer?
According to the last paragraph in this article, it might not be true that hair can be trained to adjust to less frequent washes. I am not sure about it, I tried and it never really worked.
I actually only know two people that managed to do this. Both have curly hair. And as mentioned before, curly hair is naturally much drier, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that less frequent washes works for them.
About that hair oiling…
this is an extra tip that you can try out. While heat and shampoo itself are actually more damaging than the mere act of wetting the hair, it doesn’t mean this can’t be harmful too.
When hair becomes wet, it swells up and expands. When it dries, it contracts back to its original form. This is called Hydral Fatigue. This process can be quite exhausting for the hair on a very frequent basis. The constant motion may weaken it, make it lose its elasticity and cause breakage.
This can be greatly reduced by using coconut oil before washing your hair. Coconut oil is best, because its molecules than those of other oils. It can penetrate your hair shaft best, thus preventing any expanding. Just take some virgin coconut oil and put it all over your hair at least 1 hour before washing it, preferably overnight. It doesn’t need to be much, a small amount already does the trick.
Keep in mind not to use more shampoo because of this. That would just dry out your hair. Simply leave the shampoo on for a little while, maybe 5 minutes, and then wash it out very well.
To sum up:
Hair can handle frequent washing, if treated with healthy products. Don’t feel guilty about it and don’t try to stretch it out by using dry shampoo.
If you feel you need to wash your hair every day or every second day, make sure to use a mild shampoo and try not to use any heat.
If your hair can tolerate it to be washed only once a week or even less, go for it.
Use coconut oil a few hours before washing your hair to prevent hydral fatigue.