How Often Should You Shampoo Your Hair?
For most of us on most days, 2-4 times a week is all that is needed to maintain healthy, sweet-smelling hair. Americans have been washing their hair everyday for so long, we assume it’s the only way to do it. But don’t blame your hair for its frizzy nature. Blame all the water, washing friction, and all the stuff you slather on it. . Getting your hair wet less frequently and using less shampoo is a better idea.
Every time a hair strand gets wet, its cuticle swells and peels back. Cuticle, with its 4-15 layers of translucent, scaly cells, has the evolutionary job of protecting the interior shaft. Once it’s lifted, the cuticle layers never lie back down in the same, snug way. Instead, the cracks developed during the wetting and drying process allow chemicals from hair products --yes, even the “natural” ones- -to penetrate and damage the shaft. The result is frizz and breakage.
That’s why the No-poo and Co-wash, movements are trending. No-pooers never shampoo their hair, but only those with extremely sensitive skin, an allergic scalp, or whose hair follicles produce little or no sebum will find this approach useful. No-pooers generally use only water to rinse their hair, although some unwisely add vinegar or baking soda. Vinegar and baking soda are alkaline and hair and skin are slightly acidic so those products are harmful.
Most people need the surfactants in shampoos to occasionally wash away sebum, the naturally occurring protectant on the scalp. Sebum attracts dust and allergens, eventually making the hair stick together. healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/sebum#purpose
Like No-pooers, Co-washers do not use shampoo; they substitute conditioners for shampoo. The positives of this approach are threefold. One, the cuticle is raised less, making hair shinier and better protected. Two, hair smells fresher. Three, most dirt and allergens that are stuck among the strands are rinsed away. Drawbacks are that conditioners are not effective dissolvers of sebum and eventually the conditioners build up, weighing down the hair and giving it an oily appearance.
A better choice for most people is what I call the Lo-poo method, where shampoo is still used but in smaller amounts, and hair is not washed more than 2-4 times per week. This amount of hair washing seems to be the magic spot for most people. Obsessively scrubbing off all sebum is actually harmful. If evolution hadn’t created sebum, we would have had to invent it to keep our hair and skin healthy. Lo-pooers remove sebum when shampooing, but since they wash their hair less frequently, the scalp retains some of sebum’s protective qualities.
Break your compulsive, daily shampooing habit! If you think that because your hair gets wet in the shower anyway, you might as well wash it, consider buying a really cute shower cap.