How Often Should You Wash Your Hair? A Modern Gal’s Conundrum

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

How often should you wash your hair? This is certainly the modern-day gal’s conundrum. The buzz is that less is more with some hair stylists professing that limited hair-washing makes our locks less susceptible to damage and breakage while also allowing our natural hair oils to shine. While we get this, it can also be challenging if you’re a regular Sweaty Betty at the gym, or are someone who’s always on-the-go, especially during these hotter summer months. That kind of grease and sweat isn’t easy to live with for that long. The real answer is that it depends on your lifestyle, how often you move and really how long your tresses can tolerate going without a wash. Read on to learn more about how often to wash your hair.

Real Talk: How Often Should I Wash My Hair?

how often should you wash your hair? washing hair
When you should wash your hair is different for everyone.

1. Consider your hair type.

We all know that everyone’s hair type is different. Those with curly hair have a much different hair texture than those with straight hair. In general, those with naturally straight hair tend to show grease quicker; whereas those with curly hair may be able to go two to three days before they wash their hair. In general, how many times should you wash your hair is based on the type of hair you have.

2. Consider the length of your hair.

Short hair vs. long hair is also a factor in how many times a week should you wash your hair. Those with shorter locks can probably go a little longer in between washes; whereas those with long hair will need to rinse every other day (or everyday).

3. Consider your activity level. 

If you find yourself in every other new gym class or running around all day long, you probably have a sweaty head. Those with active lifestyles definitely should wash their hair more frequently. If you work in an office or spend your days more docile, you can skip regular hair washings.

4. How often are you at the salon?

Are you an blowout hair enthusiast or do you get regular hair treatments (color, straightening treatments and more?). Your hair might be damaged than most where you will need a moisture-rich wash and care system to treat your hair. Also, be sure to incorporate a deep conditioner and hair mask into the mix at least once a week.

5. How do you generally wear your hair? 

Another factor to consider when figuring out how often to wash your hair is taking into consideration how you style your hair. Yes, even your beloved ponytail plays a factor. If you tend to load up up your hair with hair care products, you may find that you need to wash it regularly

Shampoos for Your Hair Type

Now, let’s break down the common hair types to help you discover the best shampoos for you.

1. Normal Hair

While you probably have healthy hair, you’ll still want a shampoo that will provide your hair with moisture. Try the Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture Shampoo and Conditionerwhich contains a Pro-Moisture Complex formula that works to cleanse and nourish your hair.

2. Fine Hair

For a natural lift in your hair, you’ll need a moisture-rich volumuzing shampoo. Try Nexxus New York Salon Care Hydra-Light Weightless Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner whose formula can give your hair some serious volume without weighting down your hair.

3. Curly Hair

Curly hair tends to be dry where you’ll need a formula that can rehydrate and nourish your hair. Try Dove Absolute Curls Ultra Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner whose formula works to clean, strengthen and nourish your hair. Bonus: it can help to minimize frizz!

4. Dry/Damaged Hair

Treat your damaged hair by using Nexxus New York Salon Care Promend Spilt End Repair Shampoo and Conditioner. This formula is enriched with Concentrated Elastin Protein and Flax Seed Oil that can help to treat and repair your damage to help your hair look more healthy-looking.

5. Scalp Issues

Itchy scalp and dandruff are common hair issues. To help those issues, use Dove DermaCare Scalp Dryness and Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo whose formula can help with dryness while also refreshing the scalp.

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

We’ve all heard the cautionary tale or two about hair washing, that not only is it not recommended, but that it is actually downright risky to wash hair everyday. Admittedly, there are days that we’ve also been on the alt-right side of this spectrum—that is, ultra-conservative, opting rather to squeeze a good hair day in via some dry shampoo instead.

But is it really, honest-to-goodness harmful to wash hair everyday? We tap Unilever resident expert, North America Senior Manager for Hair in Research & Development, Leon-van Gorkom, to shed light on this FAQ:

He puts it in black and white: “Washing with a good shampoo and conditioner is not harmful to hair,”van Gorkom says, 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 everyday, 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.

how often should you wash your hair on box braids
Those with protective hairstyles, such as twists and box braids, might find dry shampoo super helpful.

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 everyday, or anytime that week, for that matter. Curly and natural hair types can go weeks without a full wash—even more if hair is done in a protective hairstyle, such as a rope twist or box braid. This is where dry shampoo becomes a crucial agent for that must-needed scalp refresh, as it helps 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 what your hair has been through prior.

For instance, colored hair is more fragile and vulnerable a few days after processing, so maybe hold off on a complete and thorough washing till the end of the week (plus your new hue will thank you too!). Fine or thinning hair might need more frequent shower time than coarse or curly hair as well. It always pays to work with your hair type and listen to your needs of the day, and knowing whether to wash hair everyday or not will soon be like second nature. After all, what can be more therapeutic or satisfying than a clean slate?

Want more hair care tips from the editors? Check out our take on co-washing.