How Often Do You Need to Wash Your Hair?

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Shampooing hair daily may result in washing money down the drain. But experts say the optimal shampooing frequency varies, and depends on several factors.

How often do you wash your hair?

Perhaps it comes as no surprise, but you are likely to hear many different answers to this question. Some people believe they should shampoo daily, but experts say the optimal frequency depends on you and your hair.

Should you wash hair daily?

Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at the Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology in New York, tells National Public Radio that she advises patients to shampoo two or three times per week at most.

“If you wash your hair every day, you’re removing the sebum,” Hanjani said. “Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil.”

Hairstylist Alli Webb, founder of Drybar, tells WebMD it is OK to go a few days without shampooing. “For hair that’s normal in terms of oiliness and medium weight, I sometimes tell my clients to go as long as they can without shampooing,” she says.

However, some experts, like dermatologist Jeffrey J. Miller, say a daily shampoo may be OK.

Miller, who also teaches dermatology at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, tells Good Housekeeping there is no harm unless it leads to hair breakage, as evidenced by a lot of flyaways and “baby hairs” around the crown of the head.

Plus, there is an exception to every rule.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, how often you should shampoo depends on how much oil your scalp produces. For people with oily scalps, that could mean daily washing.

For women who feel greasy without a daily shampooing, New York-based dermatologist Francesca Fusco tells Self she recommends shampooing every other day and incorporating a dry shampoo into your routine — yet she said it’s “absolutely fine” to shampoo daily if that is what people prefer.

Factors in hair washing frequency

Other factors that impact how often you should wash your hair include:

  • The hair’s texture
  • The hair’s strength and growth rate
  • The climate in which you live
  • Your race and ethnicity

Columbia Health’s “Go Ask Alice!” initiative says you should wash hair “regularly,” and adds that defining that frequency is up to you. According to the site, “As a basic guideline, people with normal to dry hair can wash once or twice a week, while those with oily hair can probably wash more frequently.”

Celebrity hairstylist Jasmine Anna Galazka tells Harper’s Bazaar that hair texture is a factor.

“Finer hair needs to be washed daily or every other day. Thicker or coarser hair can get washed every second day or even twice or once a week,” she said.

Fusco agrees that how often you wash your hair is up to you, calling shampooing frequency “truly a matter of personal preference.” At the same time, however, she says “you should make sure to cleanse the scalp at least twice a week to avoid too much oil and product buildup.”

What do guys and kids need?

Most hairstylists and dermatologists don’t differentiate between men and women when opining on how often you should lather your locks.

However, barber Shorty Maniace, owner of San Francisco’s J.P. Kempt Barber & Social, tells Men’s Fitness that guys should shampoo weekly and condition daily.

“Over-shampooing strips the oils from your scalp and hair. And when that happens, the sebaceous gland is going to either pump out way too much oil, which makes your hair super-greasy, or say, ‘(Forget) this, Jack: I’m not going to pump any oil out — it’s too dry already.’ Then you get dry scalp and dandruff,” he says.

For kids, the American Academy of Dermatology has devised a three-step questionnaire to help parents determine how often to shampoo Junior. In addition to scalp oiliness and hair texture, factors include age and activity level.

What about you? How often do you shampoo? Is the frequency working for you or leaving you with flyaways or dandruff? Let us know in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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