Beauty

Ask Grace: How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

Dear Grace, 

Once and for all, what’s the deal with hair washing? I have medium-fine hair and I wash it every day, but only because I wake up every morning with greasy hair. I’ve been told to keep washing it everyday by some people, and the opposite by other people. What do I do? How often should I be really washing it to keep it healthy, and how can I keep it fresh in between washes? 

Hannah 

This is definitely one of the beauty industry’s most debated topics! Everyone (hair professional or not) has an opinion on how often hair should be washed… Having interviewed numerous hair stylists, trichologists, and dermatologists, the most important thing I’ve learnt is that it’s important to find the right balance for you as an individual. Part of the reason we need to wash our hair is because our scalp produces oil (just like the rest of our skin does) and everyone has a different rate of oil production, which can be impacted by things like diet, stress, genetics, product use, exercise, washing habits etc. Plus, if you have oily skin, then you’re likely to also have an oily scalp and vice versa for dry skin. So, while you might have a friend who washes their hair once a week or a hairdresser who recommends it every other day, it really is down to you to find out what works best for your hair. 

One thing that’s certain is that you shouldn’t need to wash your hair every day, and if you feel like you need to then that’s a big red flag that you’re over-washing. Shampooing your hair removes oil, which is why it might seem strange when your hair starts to look greasy at 3pm even though you washed your hair that morning. The science behind this is simple. When we shampoo, we remove oil, so the process takes a lot of the natural moisture from our scalp and hair. The scalp reacts to this by going into overdrive and producing more oil which makes hair look and feel greasy even faster. The best way to get out of this cycle is to go cold turkey and not wash your hair for 2-3 days to force it into a new routine. It will take a few weeks and you’ll have to put up with greasy hair for a short while (dry shampoo will be your best friend!), but it will be worth it once you get to the point of only needing to wash your hair every few days. Of course, there are some people who can go for longer, and this is because everyone’s rate of oil production is different. But typically, after a few days of styling your hair, using products, being exposed to pollution, and natural oil buildup, you’ll probably be in need of a shampoo. It’s also important to wash your hair at least 1-2 times a week to keep your scalp in good health and remove dead skin, product buildup.

Obviously, the products you use make a big difference. There are some great clarifying shampoos which can help to remove stubborn buildup, but may strip your scalp if you overuse them. Likewise, a rich, moisture-heavy shampoo could leave a lot of buildup that means hair needs washing sooner, so I wouldn’t recommend using formulas like those every time you wash. Instead, look out for words like ‘balancing’ and ‘gentle’ for your everyday shampoo. If you want to prolong your time between washes, avoid using too many styling products, especially in your roots, as they can also lead to buildup. A dry shampoo is a great way to get an extra day out of your hair, but due to the product residue that builds up, it isn’t something to rely on. I’ve personally had great success from sleeping with my hair in a silk cap. As it keeps my hair out of my face and off my pillow it prevents my skincare products from getting in my hair as I sleep and my hair stays looking cleaner for longer. 

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If you have a question for our resident beauty editor and esthetician Grace Day, tweet us at @beautybay using the hashtag #AskGrace for a chance to be featured.