With the rise of dry shampoos, apple cider vinegar washes, and at-home treatments, it appears that the world is only getting more serious about how to properly wash your hair. Whether you're testing out new ways to dry your hair after a nice shower or studying up on the best ways to get luscious locks, hair care is definitely on the rise, and if you haven't already mastered the basics, let's go back to the beginning with shampoo and conditioner.
If you're someone who dyes your hair insane colors on a regular basis, you've probably learned a thing or two when it comes to maintaining healthy hair, from deep conditioning treatments to minimal shampooing. If you're the opposite, you might still be on the search for the perfect hair-washing schedule — is once every three days OK? How about once a week?
With all these questions in mind, you might need some professionals to weigh in. Hair care experts and stylists are ready to set the record straight about washing your hair and want to share their tips and tricks.
Here are eight important facts you need to know about washing your locks to ensure that your healthy hair is happy hair.
1. Over-Shampooing Causes Dryness
Let’s start with the major fact: washing our hair too frequently can result in dry, brittle hair. It’s no secret that shampoo strips your strands of its natural oils, which causes your hair to produce more or less oil, depending on your texture, according to stylist Kristina Bauzo from Orlo salon in New York.
“I feel it's best to allow your natural oil a chance to actually get through the hair — from root to the ends of the hair shaft — before feeling the need to wash it,” she tells me. Use your fingers to feel out your hair, and see what feels right.
According to Dr. Suneel Chilukuri, M.D., F.A.A.D., F.A.C.M.S. Director of Cosmetic Surgery, Refresh Dermatology, washing your hair too frequently can actually cause hair weakening and damage, along with dry strands. In addition, the scalp can become more dry leading to exacerbation of underlying what we know as dandruff.
2. Under-Shampooing Leads To Buildup
On the other hand, not washing your hair enough has its downside too. “[It] could lead to bacteria building up on the scalp, as well as excessive dirt and oils weighing the hair down,” Carolyn Aronson, hairstylist and Founder and CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare says. “Clean hair is happy hair!”
3. Focus On Your Scalp When You Shampoo
Be sure to massage your scalp when you’re using shampoo, rather than scrubbing it in, says Sharon Dorram, Color Director of Virtue. This is important because it stimulates blood flow to the scalp, which will help with hair growth. If the pores on your head become clogged, hair will actually stop growing and fall out. Nobody wants that!
“Shampoo is designed to magnetize dirt so the ends of our hair are the easiest to clean because they lack the oil the hair closest to the scalp has,” says Cantu’s global artist, Marie Antoinette. Be sure to focus on your scalp, since that’s where the oils are building up, rather than the strands, which could lead to dry hair.
4. Sulfate-Free Shampoos And Conditioners Are Best
Dr. Chilukuri, like many stylists, recommends shampoos and conditioners that are low in sulfate, or completely free of sulfate for your hair. He recommends éprouvage Fortifying Shampoo and Fortifying Conditioner. “These products are safe for all hair types, restore hydration to improve dry, damaged ends, and increase hair's resistance to breakage. They also contain the Egyptian Blue Lily active plant stem cells which anticipates and slows down the aging process.”
Using these types of shampoos will also preserve color, for those who opt for dyed strands, according to Madison Reed’s lead colorist, Rachael Thomas. “Madison Reed’s Nourishing Color Protecting shampoo and conditioner will cleanse without stripping your hair or your color. It will help preserving the longevity of your color and nourish the hair with nutrient rich ingredients like Argan oil, keratin and ginseng root extract,” she says. Follow it up with a cool rinse to close the hair cuticle, as suggested by Aronson, and you’re set!
You’ll also need to consider that your products are color preserving as well as healing for damaged hair. “When shampooing my ultimate favorite for heavily color treated hair is Virtue Recovery Shampoo and Conditioner,” says Dorram. “I follow up with Virtue Perfect Ending Split End Serum.”
Virtue's shampoo gently removes buildup in the hair.
This conditioner will reverse damage with each use.
Repair your split ends with this affordable serum.
5. Everyone Has A Unique Wash Schedule
Your hair is going to take a different routine than your best friend’s, or the girl sitting next to you at the beach. Everyone has unique strands and texture, which means that the amount of oil your scalp produces will be unique to you. As you get to know your hair better, Bauzo suggests figuring out what your wash schedule will be. For example, how often you need to shampoo, when it’s time to skip the lather, and reach for that dry shampoo.
6. Dry Shampoo Will Be Your Best Friend
Speaking of dry shampoo, most stylists say that this is a great alternative to washing your hair, especially when you’re in a pinch. They decrease the oils and add a fresh scent to day-old hair. Look for one that doesn’t leave the hair powdery or too coated, and your hair will feel fresh for the day.
7. Rinsing Thoroughly When Shampooing And Conditioning Is A Game-Changer
While it may seem like a no brainer, you’d be surprised at how much really rinsing your hair will do. “It is so important to rinse the hair very well after shampoo and conditioning,” says Dorram. “Leaving residue of product in the hair will leave the hair coated and not fresh and bouncy.”
8. A Conditioner Rinse Is Great For Styling
Stylists say that when you’re forgoing shampoo altogether but still need to refresh your hair, you can rinse with a bit of conditioner every now and then. Be sure to use a comb to pull the conditioner through each strand.
Thomas shares a simple tip when you decide to do this. “Before you apply your conditioner don’t forget to wring out as much moisture as possible. This will allow the conditioner to penetrate the cuticle layer of the hair rather than sliding right off of the hair if it is too wet,” she says.