You can follow the instructions on your shampoo and conditioner bottles like you’ve been doing for decades but still wind up with not-quite-clean, slightly greasy, or just blah hair. What gives? Well, you could be making some hair washing mistakes that make the whole process basically null.
Take it from none other than the stylist behind Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s iconic heads of hair: Mark Townsend. In a meeting over Zoom celebrating hair brand Collective Laboratories’ latest launches, the pro schooled me on the most common mistakes he sees people make when washing their hair — and I was shook (even as a beauty editor). “Your [hair] issues start in the shower. People just aren’t treating their scalps properly,” he tells me. “Over-cleansing leads to your scalp going into overdrive to produce enough sebum to make up for what you stripped away.” Hence why experts are always telling you to stop. washing. every. single. day.
Besides shampooing too frequently, your washing technique is essential — if you’re not doing it properly, it’s going to show up in your ‘do. And it’s something Townsend (to his dismay) sees time and time again with people that have hair types 1 and 2, or straight and wavy. All he wants is to spread the gospel of correct cleansing so that everyone can have gorgeous strands — keep reading for the three biggest hair washing mistakes he wishes people with straight and wavy strands would stop making. (BTW, the Olsens definitely do not make these mistakes. Just look at their hair.)
1. Only Scrubbing The Ends Of Your Hair
First up: According to Townsend, most people are only getting one section of their strands when they shampoo. “I see my clients with long hair do this all the time — they take all of their hair and put it on top of their head and go to town [with shampoo],” he tells me, noting that this tends to cause a ton of knots and tangles. “You don’t really need to massage the astringent [your shampoo] into the ends — it’s really about getting the top,” he says. That’s how you get the ingredients onto your scalp to slough off buildup.
2. Skipping Conditioner
Don’t ever tell Townsend you don’t use conditioner. “It drives me crazy how many people skip conditioner altogether because they think it’s going to weigh their hair down,” he says, shaking his head. “Then they complain about their hair being dry and breaking and being frizzy all the time.” He explains that whenever your strands are wet, the cuticle swells and lifts, which makes it vulnerable to damage. Conditioner works to seal it so that each hair is protected — so use it each time you wash.
3. Not Thoroughly Rinsing
It seems like a no-brainer, but if you don’t fully rinse your hair after washing, your strands will suffer. It’s why Townsend says one of his biggest pet peeves is those rain-style showerheads. “With those, the water just falls directly on you,” he tells me. “I’ve had so many times before red carpet events where I’ve had to tell clients to go wash their hair again because there’s too much conditioner left behind.” The issue with this? The product will start to clog your pores, he explains, and this can lead to everything from greasy strands to even hair loss.
Moral of the story? Brush up on your hair washing techniques so you can be well on your way to MKA-level locks.
Dias, M.F. (2015). Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. International Journal of Trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/
Trueb, R. (2018). Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress. International Journal of Trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369642/