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How Often Should I Shampoo My Hair?

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How Often Should I Shampoo My Hair?
Photographer's Choice RF // Getty Images
Question: How Often Should I Shampoo My Hair?
A friend recently asked me if it was OK that she shampoos her hair every day. It seems a hot trend in shampooing these days is to NOT shampoo hair daily. So what's the real deal?
Answer: How often you shampoo your hair really depends on you and your hair. If you have oily hair like I do, you can shampoo every day or every other day. If you have dry hair you can wash it a couple times a week and go even longer between washings.

But there's so much more to shampooing hair than just frequency. In this article, I answer your biggest burning questions regarding shampooing hair. Find out what the big deal is about the "no poo movement," should you rinse and repeat and much more.

I Have Oily Hair, but I've Read It's Bad to Shampoo Daily

This is a controversial topic. Some people who like to create rules like to say one should never wash their hair daily, that it's bad for the hair. These are the same people who advise that if you let your hair go for a few days it will go through a gross oily period and then miraculously look wonderful after about day 4.

To that I say, "bulls***."

I have tried to go a few days without washing my hair and what happens is this: my hair stays oily. My scalp itches and smells like sebum. By day 4 I can't leave the house for fear of running into someone I know and my hair looks as if someone poured a bottle of corn oil on my head.

Obviously people who abide by that rule don't have oily hair and an oily scalp. Go ahead and wash your hair with a gentle shampoo as much as you feel it needs it.

What's the Big Deal About the "No-Poo" Movement?"

There's a big trend in the hair world right now and it's the "no-poo" and the "low-poo" movement. There actually are women out there who never shampoo their hair and they swear their hair has never been healthier, more lush or as gorgeous. These women tend to have curly, dry hair and a dry scalp. They use conditioners instead of shampoos to condition hair, rather than cleanse it.

If you have super curly, super frizzy, and super dry hair, then you might consider a version of the low-poo approach. Shampooing less frequently, while applying tons of conditioner may be just the habit your hair needs.

Learn more about caring for dry, curly hair in How to Care for Curly Hair .

My Hair Gets Really Greasy, But Sometimes I'm Too Tired to Wash it. Is There Anything I Can Do?

If you have oily hair and don't want to wash it daily or don't have time to, consider keeping a dry shampoo on hand. A good dry shampoo will buy you a day or even two between washings.

If you have blonde hair, baby powder will also work (that's what I use). Simply spray the shampoo at your crown and at your part and rub it in. If it's baby powder you're using, sprinkle a bit on your crown and part and make sure none of it's showing.

Learn more about caring for fine, flat hair in How to Give Your Fine Hair More Body.

Do I Really Need to "Rinse & Repeat"?

I know, I know, the shampoo bottles always tell you to rinse and repeat. But you don't have to if you have short hair or dry, brittle hair that frizzes easily.

Most of us, however, should rinse and repeat. There's actually a proper way to wash your hair that will get it so clean you may be able to skip a day or 2. More on that next.

Is There a Correct Way to Shampoo?

About.com's Women's Hair expert Kendra Aarhus has a wonderful article on how to properly shampoo hair. Turns out the first shampoo is meant to really scrub the scalp clean. You're meant to massage the entire scalp including the back. Then you should rinse really well, even more than you think you should because most of us don't rinse correctly it turns out. The "repeat" part of your shampoo requires less shampoo and is meant to cleanse not the scalp as much as the hair.

Get the full scoop in Aarhus's article, How to Shampoo Your Hair.

Are There Ingredients in Shampoos That I Should Avoid?

Anything you put on your skin or your scalp can get into your system. This is why many natural health experts recommend avoiding any shampoos with the foaming agents sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate as main ingredients. Laboratory studies show that products that end in "eth" such as sodium laureth sulphate, polyethylene glycol, oleth, myreth, ceteareth all test positive for 1,4-Dioxane, a proven cancer-causing petrochemical.

Yuccch. Because the FDA doesn't regulate the cosmetics industry, many popular shampoos, hair dyes and baby products contain the "eth" ingredients. When buying shampoos, it can't hurt to look at the labels. But be advised, you may have to head to the health food store to find a shampoo that's "eth" free. Or you can order online.

See my list of the Best Sulfate-free Shampoos.

What Kind of Shampoo Should I Use?

There are so many different types of shampoos for every type of hair and at every price point, sometimes finding the right shampoo can be confusing.

Unless you truly love a shampoo and conditioner (I am obsessed with Kerastase), there's no need to spend a lot of money on them. You can get a great shampoo at your drugstore. Look for shampoo that's formulated for your hair type (oily, dry) or your hair problem (frizzy, flat).

Get the full scoop on how to pick the best shampoo in Best Shampoos and Conditioners for All Hair Types.

More shampoo must-reads:

  1. Do 2-in-1 shampoos work?
  2. How to pick the right shampoo & conditioner.
  3. An ingenius way to bottle shampoo.
  4. Don't have time to wash your hair? Try baby powder.
  5. Quick tip to combat limp hair.

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