There are three things that stress me out as an adult: how many emails I have yet to answer, what to make for dinner, and if I should wash my hair or not. More often than not, I usually wash my hair because 1) I just like to have clean hair when I go to sleep (especially if I’ve popped out that day to get some groceries or run some errands), and 2) I find that my scalp gets oily and develops some acne.
And while I’ve tried to get onto a schedule of washing less frequently, it’s just never suited me—I can’t stand to sleep with dirty hair, I’m so naturally prone to oiliness, and I find that not washing leads to more scalp acne for me. Still, I’m thoroughly into the health of my hair and what would be best for it, so I asked some experts to finally settle the debate about how often we should all be washing our hair.
Wash According to Hair Type
Davines educator Michael Bowman and Sal Misseri, the owner of the Chicago-based Reverie Salon, both agree that washing your hair too frequently can strip your hair of the natural oils, and that you can train your hair to produce less oil by stretching the time in between washes for an extended period of time. According to these experts, hair should generally be washed two to three times a week on average, but the natural texture and density of the hair will also directly influence how frequently someone should wash their hair.
“Finer hair should be washed more frequently, while coarser/curlier hair types should wash less,” says Bowman. According to Misseri, the finer the hair strand and the lower the hair density, the more often people find themselves washing their hair.
People with naturally straight hair are especially more likely to wash often because natural oils from the scalp travel down the hair shaft much more quickly. On the other hand, curly hair tends to be drier because the natural oils of the scalp have a harder time traveling down the shaft of a curl. So people with thick or curly hair and higher densities might be washing once or twice a week—some can even go up to washing every two weeks!
In addition, chemically-treated hair should just be washed less because it tends to be drier, says Misseri.
Switch Up Your Shampoos
Misseri and Bowman also agree that you might want different shampoos on hand in order to take care of both your scalp and your hair.
“A healthy scalp means healthy hair. You should have two types of shampoo and conditioner on hand, if you have both scalp and hair issues—switch between the two,” Bowman recommends. For example, someone with colored hair will want a sulfate-free shampoo that can clean hair, without stripping color. At the same time, if they have an especially oily scalp, they’ll want a shampoo that can help regulate their scalp’s oil production.
“A lot of times people will choose a shampoo without any thought, but it truly is a very important first step to an effective hair care routine,” says Misseri. “Davines’ Naturaltech line specifically targets hair and scalp problems using advanced technology to resolve issues like oiliness, hair loss, dandruff, itchiness, dryness, and aging.”
Oily scalps should be looking for clarifying ingredients like lemon extracts and charcoal, while those with drier scalps should look for moisturizing, soothing ingredients like argan oil and oat protein. Try to avoid shampoos with harsh SLS—they foam up pleasantly but can strip the scalp and encourage the scalp to overcompensate and secrete even more oil.
Headed Towards Hair Health
Ultimately, hair washing is a very personal and self-tailored ritual for different individuals. For some people like my sister, washing less often suits her hair better. For myself, I’ve started to wash my hair a little less (with hair as straight and fine as mine, I try to stay at roughly four to five washes per week), but I’m still in the process of adjusting to slightly less frequent washing to help curb my scalp’s oiliness and soothe scalp acne.
I’m currently using Davines’ Naturaltech Rebalancing line three times per week to help manage my oiliness, and I also use their SOLU Sea Salt Scrub once per week, which helps de-grease my scalp as well as gently exfoliate and gives my silky-slippery hair a little bit of gritty texture and body. Then I spritz my scalp with rosewater and apply some lightweight spray conditioner to make sure my hair is still conditioned without being weighed down. While it’s still a work in progress, I’ve definitely noticed that the scalp acne has really started to calm down, and the baby flyaways at the top of my head aren’t sticking straight up anymore.