Washing your hair too often can strip it of its natural oils and leave it dry, damaged, and lifeless. Many people feel the need to shampoo their hair daily or every other day, but this can be very harmful for most hair types. Training your hair to need less frequent washing is possible for many people and leads to healthier, shinier locks. Here’s how to get started.
Why is over-washing harmful?
Frequent shampooing removes the natural oils that your scalp produces to moisturize the hair shafts. This leads to dry, brittle hair that is more prone to breakage and split ends. The scalp will then overproduce oil to compensate, meaning your hair gets greasy again quickly. This imbalance leads to a vicious cycle of needing to wash it more often.
Many popular shampoos also contain sulfates and other harsh detergents that strip the hair and scalp. This can cause irritation for some. Silicones and waxes in conditioners and styling products can further build up on the hair, resulting in dull locks that need clarifying shampoos to remove.
How often should you really wash?
Most experts agree that washing 1-2 times per week is ideal for the average person. However, those with very dry or very oily hair may need to wash a little more or less frequently. Here are some general guidelines:
|Dry, damaged, or chemically treated
|1-2 times per week
|Normal or combination
|2-3 times per week
|Thin and oily
|2-4 times per week
|Thick and oily
|3-4 times per week
Pay attention to how your scalp and hair feel to determine the optimal washing frequency for your unique hair. With training, you may be able to wash less often over time.
How to train your hair to need less washing
It takes time and consistency, but training your hair for less frequent washing is doable. Here are some tips:
1. Gradually extend time between washes
Going from daily washing to once or twice a week overnight can be too shocking for your scalp and hair. Take it slow by extending your wash days by just 1 day at first. Go from daily washing to every other day, then every 2 days, 3 days, etc. until you reach your ideal washing frequency.
2. Use a clarifying shampoo
A clarifying shampoo can help remove product buildup as you transition to less frequent washing. Use one once a week or as needed if hair starts to look dull from accumulated oils and silicones. This helps refresh hair and rebalances the scalp without stripping oils entirely.
3. Switch products if needed
Your current hair products may be weighing hair down or causing buildup. Try switching to all-natural, sulfate-free shampoos and silicone-free conditioners. These are gentler and allow your hair’s natural oils to shine through.
4. Use dry shampoo
Spray or powder dry shampoos are a lifesaver when training your hair. They soak up excess oils and make hair look freshly washed. Apply them to the roots when hair looks greasy between wash days.
5. Wash scalp, condition ends
When you do shampoo, focus just on the scalp and avoid the hair ends. Condition just the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, avoiding the roots. This helps keep the scalp balanced while nourishing ends.
6. Change how you style
Avoid heavy styling products like gels and mousse that can build up in hair and make it look greasier faster. Let hair air dry when possible and use heat styling minimally. Wear hair up or change partings to refresh hair between washes.
7. Use dry shampoo
Dry shampoo is a secret weapon for cleaning hair without shampooing. The starch or powder-based formulas soak up grease and oils from the scalp. Spray or sprinkle it onto roots and work through before styling to perk up limp strands.
8. Massage your scalp
Use your fingertips to gently massage your scalp before washing, during washing, and between washes. This stimulates blood circulation, removes dead skin cells, and distributes your scalp’s natural oils down the hair shaft for added conditioning.
9. Get regular trims
Schedule a trim every 6-8 weeks to prevent split ends from traveling up the hair shaft. This helps minimize damage and breakage so hair stays healthy between washes.
It can take 4-6 weeks for your scalp to fully adjust to less frequent washing. Here are some tips if you’re struggling with greasy roots or other issues in the transition period:
- Use a boar bristle brush to distribute oils from root to tip
- Try washing at night so oil has time to build up during the day
- Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove buildup
- Switch to lighter hair products without silicones or waxes
- Add a apple cider vinegar rinse to balance pH
- Consider getting a scalp treatment such as tea tree oil
Training your hair to need less frequent washing is a process, but with some patience it can have great benefits. Not only will you save time on hair care, but your locks will be healthier, shinier, and more manageable. Pay attention to your scalp and hair condition so you can find your optimal personalized washing schedule. With the right techniques and products, most people can successfully transition to only washing their hair 1-2 times per week.