As you empty out yet another can of dry shampoo, it's time to get a definitive answer
It’s the bane of our lives a couple of times a week, but how often should you wash your hair?
We spoke to some of the industry’s biggest hair experts and top stylists to get an answer once and for all. But it’s not a one-size-fits all situation.
‘There really is no hard or fast rule to how many times you should wash your hair – you know that old wives tale about the hair not being washed and it self-cleans? Well, it’s kind of true, however your lifestyle choice and environment has a big part to play,’ Paul Edmonds tells us.
‘If you go to the gym a lot, swim, live in a highly polluted environment, colour your hair, use heat styling tools… these things all contribute.’
How often should you really wash your hair, then?
You know that girl who always has great hair, but never seems to wash it? According to our experts, you could be that girl too.
‘The less you wash your hair, the less you need to wash your hair!’ says Gareth Williams, Headmasters Artistic Ambassador.
Edmonds agrees: ‘Generally my advice is not to use anything that is too overly stripping of the hairs natural oils or moisture, but removing chemical deposits such as chlorine etc. is important.’
Celebrity hairstylist Justin Anderson also told Byrdie that, ‘Over-washing your hair – which means every day or more – will dry out your hair, not only because you are stripping the hair of its natural oils, but also because you will probably end up using heat on the hair more often as well.’
So if you avoid over-styling and limit the use of products on your hair, you should be able to reduce the amount of times you wash your hair each week.
And remember, how you wash your hair matters too. According to experts, you should leave your shampoo on at your roots for around 3 minutes after lightly massaging, to allow it to gently cleanse your hair without irritating your scalp. This will also help prevent dandruff.
Don’t wash the ends either, instead, simply let the shampoo rinse through the ends so you don’t dry them out too much.
Should you double shampoo?
‘Make sure you cleanse the hair twice, using a shampoo specific for your hair needs,’ advises Williams. ‘The first shampoo will remove build up, the second will treat the hair.’
Your hair type is also a major factor in deciding how often to wash your hair. Dry hair types may actually require more washing, but with less shampoo. ‘Individuals with very dry hair believe washing it less is better,’ Paul Edmonds tells us.
‘But hair naturally dehydrates during the day from wind, pollution, sun etc. so that it can be better to wash and condition regularly than not. Plus sometimes just rinsing and using a conditioner will suffice.’
How often should you wash your hair every week?
Want a bit more of a guide? Craig Taylor Creative Director of HARI’s salons, London, gives us his rules for weekly washes.
‘Dry hair should be washed a maximum of two times a week using a shampoo with sulphate-free surfactants and high concentration of moisturisers (glycerine, sodium PCA) to help mitigate dehydration,’ he says. Be sure to use the best shampoo for dry hair.
‘Oily hair should be washed every day with a shampoo that has extra-mild sulphate-free surfactants and no conditioning agents, silicones, oils or pearlising agents.’
‘Normal hair should be washed as often as needed with a formula that has extra-mild sulphate-free surfactants and moderate levels of moisturising ingredients such as glycerine and sodium PCA’.
Brunettes, on the other hand, should wash their hair no more than twice a week, according to recent research. Supposedly, the reason why brown hair goes mousey is because shampooing it too frequently makes it dehydrated, which draws the pigment out.
Consultant Trichologist Sally-Ann Tarver (The Cotswold Trichology Centre & Theradome) adds: ‘The optimum frequency for washing hair I would suggest is every two to three days. Less often if you have naturally curly hair as it doesn’t tend to look greasy as quickly, more often if you suffer any kind of scalp condition.
‘If you have short hair, washing every day is fine as it does not suffer the same issues with wear and tear due to styling.’