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You Asked, We Answered—Here’s How Often You Should Wash Your Hair


Ah, the age-old question of how often you should wash your hair. If we had a dollar for every time we wondered this, we'd have more money than we'd ever know what to do with. And we're guessing the same goes for you, dear reader. While this is a highly subjective question and ultimately depends on your hair type, texture, and a list of other factors, there is an answer. New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian shares that "it’s absolutely okay to wash your hair daily, as much as it is absolutely okay to wash once a week or less often. Many people find their scalp feels oily and becomes dirty daily, and for them, it’s absolutely appropriate to wash it every single day. Other people, usually depending on hair type and texture, find they should wash less often."

Whether you have curly hair or fine hair, oily hair or dry hair, how often you should wash your hair depends on your personal preference. If you feel better washing it every single day, no one is going to stop you. And if you enjoy washing it once every two weeks, do that. Dr. Nazarian does recommend "applying a small bit of conditioner to the ends of the hair after every time you shampoo to prevent breakage." 

Want some more details on the frequency of your hair washing routine? Dr. Nazarian gets into the nitty-gritty of factors that impact how often you wash your hair below!

About the Expert:
Rachel Nazarian, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

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3. Your Lifestyle

On top of your hair type, texture, and color, another critical factor to consider is your lifestyle. This includes how active you are, how often you style your strands, and even medications you may be on. Yes, medications can impact your hair washing routine. Dr. Nazarian notes how many medications tend to decrease oil production, so your oily scalp may cease to be a problem. With this decrease in oil production, you "may prolong time between your washes." 

But this isn't the case for everyone and shouldn't be the overall determinant for your hair care routine. Something that deserves increased consideration is your activity levels. You may have thick hair that doesn't get too oily, but if you exercise regularly, that will lead to excess oil production. Not to mention, there'll be sweat and dirt clogging your hair follicles, especially depending on how strenuous your workout is. "Even if you have less oily hair, having a lifestyle where you sweat daily may demand you wash your hair daily," Dr. Nazarian mentions. "Sweat mixes with bacteria on our skin and often creates an odor," so you'll need to wash your scalp more often to wash the sweat out of your strands. But what if you have dry or damaged hair and partake in sweat-inducing exercise daily? Dr. Nazarian advises those with drier strands "use all tools available to keep your hair in its best shape: deep conditioners are available to repair and replete hydration if you need to wash more than you like. Likewise, clarifying shampoos are available to ensure effective washing if you produce more oil or wish to wash less often. There are even dry shampoos that can be used infrequently and allow you to clean the scalp without drying out strands too aggressively."

We'll leave it to you to figure out a routine that suits your hair best. What we can offer are products that will boost your overall hair health, which you can get in our IPSY Glam Bag! Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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But Really, What Specific Factors Determine the Regularity of Your Hair Washing Routine?

We understand highlighting personal preference as the key factor in how often you should wash your hair leaves a lot of wiggle room. For some people, knowing how often they wash their hair is up to them is good enough. Others, on the other hand, may need a little more guidance. With the help of Dr. Nazarian, we're here to offer some more structure in determining how often you wash your hair.

1. Your Hair Type and Texture

No one has the same hair type or even the same hair texture, so not every hair type and texture can follow the same routine. Dr. Nazarian stresses the importance of finding a hair washing routine that doesn't damage your overall hair health, because "different hair types have different thresholds for the amount of oil they typically tolerate."

Because those with super curly type 4 hair "can tolerate more oil and hydration to keep the curls healthy without weighing down the strands," Dr. Nazarian shares that people with curly hair don't need to wash their hair as often. Doing so will only strip the strands of their natural oils, which will damage those gorgeous coils of yours and can cause unwanted frizz and dryness. And we don't want that, do we? Similarly, those with thick hair can also get away with washing their hair less frequently, as thicker strands tend to absorb more oil than thin hair.

On the opposite end of the hair type spectrum, there's type 1 hair. This "thin, straight hair may feel much more sensitive to oil and dirt and become weighed down more easily," Dr. Nazarian explains. "Therefore, this hair type may require more frequent washing compared to type 4C."

You may be wondering how you know if you're over-washing or under-washing your hair. Again, that's subjective to your strands. "Over-washing tends to lead to dry, dull hair that feels rough to the touch and under-washing feels heavy, with loss of volume due to oil buildup," Dr. Nazarian points out. Paying attention to how your hair feels and looks can help you easily identify if you need to wash your strands more or less often.

2. Your Hair Color

Color-treated hair shouldn't be washed on a regular basis, given your color fades every time you wash it. "In order to preserve your color, it’s recommended to wash no more than two to three times weekly with a gentle, non-sulfate product," Dr. Nazarian expresses. Hair products without parabens and sulfates are best for color-treated hair, though they also work for dry hair. As far as specific products Dr. Nazarian recommends for shampooing and conditioning your hair, her favorites are Dove Hair Therapy Breakage Remedy Shampoo and Conditioner. "They keep the hair fiber strong, improve hydration, and don't strip the necessary oils or color," she raves. You paid your hairstylist good money for that color, so you might as well do everything you can to make it last.

About the author
Ashley Locke
Ashley is a Long Beach-based freelance writer who loves sharing beauty and skincare hacks with her fellow “lazy girls” out there. When she isn’t writing, you can find her crying while listening to The Maine or watching "The Office".
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Article Last Updated May 12, 2021 12:00 AM