One of the biggest debates in the hair-care industry is how often should you wash your hair. You may have been told to wash your hair anywhere from every day to only once a week. So, which is it? In reality, there is no one-size-fit-all hair-washing schedule. More than anything, the hair texture and condition of your hair determines the frequency of washes. Thin, fine hair won’t follow the same washing rules as coarse, curly hair. Read on for the breakdown on how often you should wash your hair as you age.
Factors Influencing Hair Washing Frequency
The Cleveland Clinic notes that in addition to skin type and oil glands, age will play a role in how often you wash your hair. Often times with age, your oil glands become less active. This may mean washing your hair less than you used to. No matter your age, it will take some testing to determine the right washing frequency for your hair type.
Hair type is the best indicator for how often to wash your hair. Understanding your hair type can also help you narrow down what type of hair products will work best for your strands. Generally, depending on what kind of hair you have—thick or thin; straight or curly—you follow different hair-washing routines.
Your lifestyle can affect how often you wash your hair. If you are a gym-goer or have an active lifestyle, you may be prone to having an oilier scalp. Sweat can build up on the scalp, producing salt, which clogs your pores. For this reason, you may have to reach for the shampoo a few times a week.
How Shampoo Works
Shampoo is an emulsifier that removes oil, dirt and product residue from your hair. A good shampoo will improve the condition of your scalp and prevent your hair from becoming greasy. It is most ideal to use a sulfate-free shampoo that cleanses and maintains the scalp’s pH balance.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
Our scalp releases a natural oil, called sebum, which protects and moisturizes our strands. Some natural oil will provide your hair with moisture and shine; however, too much of it will clog your hair follicles and leave strands feeling heavy. Under-washing your hair can lead to clogged pores, skin irritations and hair fall, whereas over-washing can lead to brittle hair, increased oil production and follicle inflammation.
According to hair experts, these are the best shampooing methods for each hair type:
If you have fine hair, the diameter of your individual strands is small. People with fine hair have more strands per square centimeter on their scalp than other hair types, but each strand takes up less space. Each hair has its own oil gland, so the more hairs you have, the more sebum your scalp makes. Fine hair produces a lot of sebum, contributing to greasy roots. Since fine hair gets greasy more easily, it is hard to go a few days in between washes. Thin hair will become weighed down by oil and debris, making strands appear flat and heavy. Try washing thin hair every other day with a gentle formula to achieve fresh, weightless locks. You may consider using a volumizing shampoo, like the one from Better Not Younger, to lift your roots and add full-body dimension.
People with coarse hair have thick individual hair strands. Thick, coarse hair and curly hair tend to be dry because it takes a longer amount of time for natural oils to spread and coat the hair. Denser hair follicles also hide oil better than finer hair. Thicker manes are able to get away with more days in between washes. Try washing thick hair twice a week with a moisturizing formula. Look for shampoos with moisturizing, shine-enhancing ingredients like argan oil, coconut oil, and burdock root extract. Although you are washing your hair less, remember dry shampoo is not a replacement for wet washing. An overreliance on dry shampoo can lead to clogged hair and excessive buildup.
Textured hair strands often create curves, spirals, zigzags or waves. Textured hair that is kinky or coily needs a lot of moisture to stay healthy. The natural oils secreted by your scalp help maintain moisture in curvy tresses. Textured hair doesn’t fall flat under the weight of natural oils, so they won’t show greasiness easily. In most cases, textured hair only needs to be shampooed once a week. Women with afro hair type 3a to 4c can get away with one wash every two weeks. Textured hair can stretch their shampoos to last longer than other hair types, but that is not an excuse to neglect your scalp-care. With less frequent washes, you may consider using an exfoliating scrub every couple of shampoos to keep your scalp free of buildup.
The age-old debate, “how often should you wash your hair” doesn’t have a universal approach. With that in mind, your age, lifestyle and hair type indicate how often you should shampoo your strands. Although it may be a challenge at first, figuring out the right hair-washing schedule is critical to scalp and follicle health.