Once And For All: How Often You Really Need to Wash Your Hair
How often do you shampoo your hair? While some choose to lather up daily, washing too often can do more harm than good, and strip your strands of essential oils. Like your favorite silk blouse, hair tends to lose its shine and dimension when given a run through the rinse cycle one too many times. "When I think of hair, I often like to categorize it like fabrics---like silk, denim, lace, etc..." says Abraham Sprinkle, celebrity hairstylist and member of the Keratin Complex International Creative Team. "You don't wash these in the same detergents, and this holds true for hair and shampooing." We quizzed more celebrity hair pros on how often you should lather, rinse, and repeat every week, and rounded up some of the best formulas for each hair type. Keep reading to get all the details!
If you have fine hair: Because fine hair doesn't hold as much volume, it has the tendency to feel oily much faster than its thicker counterparts. Still, lathering up every day can have detrimental effects on your strands. "If over or under-shampooed, it can lose movement," Sprinkle says. "If we're talking normal, fine hair, shampooing 3 times a week is sufficient. Look for something that is light in conditioning, as any added weight can cause the hair to become lifeless." Celebrity hairstylist George Papanikolas, who has worked with Kim Kardashian, recommends using a volumizing formula like the Biolage Volumebloom Shampoo ($17; ulta.com), and concentrating your conditioner only on certain areas to keep your roots from getting weighed down with product. "You should only use a small amount of conditioner," he tells us. "Only apply the product on your mid-shaft and ends."
If you have thick, straight hair: Thick hair may take some work in the styling department, but the plus side? You can rock a solid blowout for days on end. "With thick hair, you can wait a few days between washes. I don't recommend washing more than every other day," says Matrix Artistic Director Nick Stenson. To make your strands a bit more manageable, we recommend looking for a shampoo with smoothing qualities, or one infused with keratin or argan oil. "Thick, straight hair benefits from extra shine," Papanikolas adds.
If you have curly hair: With more bodacious curves, oil from your scalp won't travel as quickly down a curly strand as it does on a bone-straight one, so curly girls can also go a few days between lathering up. "I compare thick, curly hair to denim---denim seems to feel best a couple of days after wearing, and this holds true for curly hair," says Sprinkle. "I recommend twice a week with a shampoo heavy in moisturizing qualities." Or, opt for a cleansing conditioner like Living Proof's Curl Conditioning Wash ($26; sephora.com), which whisks away any dirt and unnecessary oils without stripping hydration from your hair. "The priority for all curly girls is to protect the integrity of the curl by steering clear of sodium lauryl sulfate, the ingredient in traditional shampoos," Stenson adds. Sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, is a detergent that can actually corrode the hair follicle and cause strands to fall out, so pay close attention to the ingredient list on products already in your shower.
If you have chemically-straightened or relaxed hair: Relaxed or chemically-treated hair tends to be more fragile, so give it some TLC when you shampoo. "I put this in a delicate category, like lace or hand-washables---the least amount you have to alter its pH, the better, as it's more vulnerable when wet," says Sprinkle, who recommends shampooing once a week with a gentle formula. We love Lisa's Hair Elixir shampoo by Carol's Daughter ($20; carolsdaughter.com), which infuses the hair follicle with nourishing ingredients like biotin, eucalyptus oil, and soy, while leaving harsh parabens and sulfates out of the mix.
If you have keratin-treated hair: Keratin-treated hair can be tricky---on one hand, you don't want to wash the protein out of your hair, but on the other, your roots can feel a little oily after a few days from the intensity of the treatment. Stenson recommends lathering up every other day, but make sure to swap your existing formula for a keratin-safe version. "It is important to use a sulfate-free shampoo, otherwise the keratin can easily be stripped from the hair," says Papanikolas. We recommend picking up the Keratin Complex Keratin Color Care shampoo ($20; ulta.com), which keeps your hair rich with the protein, and gives both new life and shine to your existing hue.
If you have color-treated hair: "When you wash, condition, and style color-treated hair, be careful not to strip it of anything except dirt and excess product," says Stenson. Because the dye compromises the health of your strands and makes them more porous, too much shampooing can cause the color molecule to slip out of the hair follicle. Sprinkle recommends washing twice a week with a color-preserving formula---we like L'Oreal's Color Vibrancy Nourishing Shampoo ($5; drugstore.com).