I do it every two to three days, but I have some friends who do it every day (and others who can go a week or more without doing it). I’m talking about washing hair, of course… “How often should I wash my hair?” is a question that has cropped up a lot over my 12 years working in beauty. The thing is the answer isn’t the same for everyone—your hair type and texture, your lifestyle and even where you live can all affect how often you should be lathering up. To get to the crux of it, I asked Kevin Moss, senior stylist at John Frieda Salons and creative director at Color Wow, along with Hershesons stylist Harry Johnson, to reveal all.
“If you work in a city, you may feel the need to wash your hair more, but it really is up to the individual,” says Moss. “Fine, flat hair may need to be washed daily or every two days, whereas coarse or curly hair can look better if washed less—weekly or so. It really depends on two things: how fine the hair is and how oily the scalp is.”
The Pros and Cons of Washing
Besides the obvious—cleanliness—Moss says fine hair benefits from washing because it adds volume and body. On the other hand, he says, afro or more coarse hair types get fluffy and unruly if washed too often. And Johnson agrees: “Washing every day can start to strip the hair of its natural oils. It’s almost an vicious cycle—you wash it, you strip the oils, the oils go into overdrive, so you wash it again and it just gets faster and faster because the hair is trying to do what it wants to naturally do.”
You may think bleaching or colouring your hair can affect how often it needs to be washed—the drier the hair, the less it needs washing, right? Moss says that as long as your hair is in good condition, bleaching shouldn’t change a thing. But beware: “If hair is compromised after a big colour change, it can become dry, coarse and fluffy—in this instance, it’s so important to use a gentle shampoo and a treatment (like Color Wow Kale Cocktail Bionic Tonic, £22) on the mid-sections and ends to rebuild hair’s strength.”
But, I Have to Wash My Hair Every Day!
“It’s fine to wash hair daily, although my advice is to be careful about your shampoo selection,” says Moss. “In the last few years, shampoos have been made with a huge amount of additives (volumisers for fine hair; de-frizzers and moisturisers for dry hair), and they have ingredients that stay behind on the hair and scalp. … If you wash your hair daily, buildup on the scalp can happen quickly and clog hair follicles.” And Johnson agrees: “I go to the gym, and I wash my hair every time when I get home. To be honest, as long as you’re using the right shampoo and conditioner, you’ll be okay—when people start washing their hair every day with products that aren’t gentle and strip the hair, that’s when things get bad.”
Moss recommends looking to shampoos with fewer ingredients that won’t cling around, like Color Wow’s Security Shampoo (£17). Shampoos should just clean the hair and scalp; for benefits like volume, he suggests looking for volumising stylers instead. Same goes for shine, detangling, beachy texture, etc. Love your current shampoo but think you may be getting product buildup around the scalp? If you’re noticing your scalp is itchy or flaky, look to a weekly scalp exfoliator like Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt (£19) to help lift away any residue.
Try a Fauxpoo
If you’d rather leave longer gaps between your hair washing, there are some tricks you can employ to eke out the life of your blow-dry. “Using a gentle shampoo that won’t strip the scalp (causing excess oil to be produced) or with ‘stay behind’ ingredients will help to extend the time between washes as hair is left properly clean after washing,” says Moss. “Always thoroughly rinse hair in lukewarm water. If you feel hair is looking lank between washes, rinse it in lukewarm water without shampoo, adding conditioner to the ends if needed.”
Johnson also finds that people condition wrong: “I see some people put conditioner right on the roots and comb it thorough to the ends. No need! Work it through the mid lengths and ends—remember the roots are where all your natural oils are anyway.” If dry shampoo isn’t your thing—Johnson tells me he uses it as a styling tool for a “cooler look” rather than as a refresher—Moss suggests just shampooing your hairline or fringe, and then quickly blow-drying to refresh the hair without washing it all.
Keep scrolling to shop our favourite simple shampoos and scalp scrubs.
An affordable natural shampoo.
Use this scrub once a week to prevent buildup and keep up your scalp health.
Free from harsh chemicals and suitable for vegans, this supports scalp health as well as effectively cleansing your lengths.
Yes, this has SLS, but if you like a lather that won’t impact your hair, this has avocado and vitamins to prevent drying.
Sulphate-free and packed with humectants, this shampoo protects your colour and draws in moisture to keep strands hydrated.
This luxe scrub will make light work of product buildup on the scalp.
Sulphate- and paraben-free, this shampoo is super gentle, hydrating and designed to be used every day.
Another sulphate-free option, this boasts antioxidant and natural shine-boosting extracts of apple and orange.
Seriously hydrating, this shampoo leaves hair feeling silky soft without the need for silicones that coat the hair and give the illusion of shine but without buildup.
Despite being sulphate-free, this shampoo lathers pretty well. The Amazonian rahua nut oil nourishes and hydrates the hair, leaving it pretty shiny too.
Next up, here’s a step-by-step guide to washing your hair like a hairdresser does.