How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

It's not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Experts say there’s no single answer to how often people should shampoo. For the average person, every other day, or every 2 to 3 days, without washing is generally fine. If hair is visibly oily, the scalp is itching or you’re experiencing flaking, those are signs it’s time to shampoo.

Some people with dry hair or curly hair can wash much less frequently without having any problems. If your hair is styled with a keratin treatment or you have a blow-out, you may not need to or want to wash more than once a week as it can put even more stress on your hair.

Brunette woman with long hair washing her hair in the shower
Credit: Emily Romain

Is It Bad to Wash Your Hair Every Day?

Over-washing, especially with deep cleansing shampoos, can strip hair of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy, especially when combined with chemical treatments or hairstyles. Hair that is completely free of its natural oil can feel coarse and be dull and difficult to style. The ‘no poo’ movement has brought shampoo-free hair care to the mainstream. It’s becoming more common for people to ditch shampoo and let the natural oils balance out with the help of alternative shampoos or simply rinsing with water instead.

Oily hair gets a bad rap, but the sebum your scalp produces is vital to healthy, shiny hair. How much oil you produce depends on your age, genetics, sex and environment. Straight and thin hair needs to be washed more frequently than curly or wavy hair. People with tight curls or textured hair should wash their hair no more than once a week or every other week.

How to Properly Wash Your Hair

There’s different ways to wash your hair depending on your hair type. We’ve broken down the 5 different types below.

1. Thin, Fine Hair

Fine hair can easily feel weighed down by too much oil and gets greasier faster than thicker, more coarse hair. To make sure your fine hair is always looking at its best without stripping it, try to keep washes to every other day or every three days if you can. Going much longer than that can leave your hair falling flat and limp. Get the most volume out of fine hair by washing with Love Beauty And Planet Volume & Bounty Shampoo and Conditioner. We love this duo in particular because it gives body and volume without a lot of effort.

2. Straight, Thick Hair

Straighter hair textures tend to get oily looking faster because the oil can easily move down the hair shaft. Normal-thick straight hair can usually start to look oily on the second or third day. Wash your hair with a system that helps moisturise and give shine without weighing it down, such as Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner.

3. Wavy Hair

Wavy hair is usually a bit drier than straight hair. A good rule of thumb for wavy hair is to use a system that enhances your natural texture while adding a bit of moisture so it doesn’t frizz out (a.k.a. public enemy no. 1 for wavy hair types!). We like the hydration we get from TRESemmé Botanique Hemp Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner.

4. Curly Hair

Curly hair is the driest of all the different hair types. Because of its spirals, oil from the scalp can’t work its way down, leaving the ends drier than straighter hair types. Depending on just how curly your hair is, you may not need to fully shampoo your hair as often. Wavy to curly hair may want to wash every third day. If you have a kinkier texture, you may only need to do a full-on shampoo once a week or fortnight. In between shampooing curly hair you can do a gentle cleanse by co-washing with a cleansing conditioner such as Love Beauty And Planet Happy & Hydrated Gentle Cleansing Conditioner.

 

5. Damaged Hair

For severely damaged hair, your locks can use all the moisture it can handle. Avoid further drying and stressing damaged hair out by washing as infrequently as you can manage, or when your locks start to look and feel greasy. When you do wash your hair, try to be gentle and focus the product at the roots, where you need it most, to prevent drying out your ends. You can use a super hydrating system to help repair damaged hair. We like TONI&GUY Damage Repair Shampoo and Conditioner.

 

Brunette with long wet hair smoothing conditioner through her hair
Credit: Emily Romain

What Happens If You Don’t Wash Your Hair

When we don’t wash our hair, dirt, oils and build-up from hair products start to collect on our scalp, clogging the hair follicles. This can cause a number of issues ranging from scalp irritation to flakiness, while the hair itself can start to look limp and greasy and worst of all, can start to develop odours.

Ask an Expert: Is it Bad to Wash Your Hair Everyday?

We’ve all heard the cautionary tale that washing your hair every day is bad for our hair but does it really do any harm to our hair? We checked in with Unilever resident expert, North America Senior Manager for Hair in Research & Development, Leon van Gorkom, to shed light on this FAQ:

“Washing with a good shampoo and conditioner is not harmful to hair,” van Gorkom explained, clearing up the debate once and for all. “It is really up to the consumer [to determine] what fits within their daily routine.”

1. Facts, Facts and More Hair Facts

“On average, women in the U.S. wash (and condition) their hair four to five times per week. Sometimes, women may choose not to wash and [instead] use dry shampoo—it’s quicker. Also, the oilier your hair, the more frequently you tend to wash,” van Gorkom noted.

It is therefore safe—and as it turns out, pretty normal—to wash hair every day, provided you use the correct system for your hair type. Clarifying systems cleanse the hair without stripping your strands of moisture.

And although quite gentle, non-oily hair types might find it beneficial to rotate a clarifying system with a regular moisturizing duo as part of their full regimen, just for balance. Hair needs, as well as the product buildup and sebum levels, can vary depending on certain factors (the weather, hormones, etc.), so it’s best to keep attuned to how your strands feel for the day and wash accordingly.

2. The Case for Dry Shampoo

That said, you might also find yourself in situations where you don’t feel like you need to wash hair every day, or anytime that week, for that matter. This is where dry shampoo becomes a key step for giving your locks that must-needed scalp refresh, as it helps to sop up oil and grease without disturbing your ’do.

3. The Last Word

“Hair gets damaged from daily styling when it isn’t in good condition, especially when wet,” van Gorkom cautions. “Therefore, you need to make sure that your hair is well-conditioned during the wash by using a good shampoo or conditioner.” It all circles back to knowing which products are best suited for your hair type, and to being mindful of the condition of your hair and what it’s been through.

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