Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Use strong shampoo and warm water. Right? Maybe not. A lot of common knowledge about how to wash your hair is incorrect. And the steps you take to nurture your hair may actually be contributing to breakage and hair damage.
Do you really know how to wash your hair?
If you think you’ve been doing everything right but you continue to struggle with hair that lacks luster and shine, it’s time to change up your washing routine. You may be surprised to learn the relationship between oil and healthy hair and how improper washing can damage your ‘do.
Why You Don’t Want to Wash Away Oil
Before exploring how to wash hair, you should understand why you wash your hair.
Washing is necessary to remove dirt, allergens, sweat, and oil that can build up on your scalp and in your hair. But if you don’t know how to properly wash your hair, you risk damaging it.
You see, your scalp produces oil, which often winds up in your hair. And most hair-care products are about removing that oil for a clean finish. The reality of the relationship between hair and oil is actually much more complicated than that.
- Your hair needs some oil to keep it healthy and hydrated. If you strip away all of your hair’s natural oils when you wash hair, you can end up with hair that is coarse or fragile and damaged.
- When your hair’s fiber is weakened (such as when its oils are stripped away), it can damage the hair shaft, which means split ends, frizz, and a loss of shine.1
- In addition to damaging your hair, washing too much can also dry out your scalp and the skin around your neck, resulting in dry skin and dandruff.2
- If you wash your hair too often, your hair could even lose protein. And that could result in hair loss.3
When it comes to how to properly wash your hair, the key lies in striking the perfect balance. When you think hair care, think Goldilocks: you don’t want too much or too little… but the just right amount. You need to remove build-up while preserving your hair’s healthy oils.
How to Wash Your Hair
Preserving the proper amount of healthy oil is a necessary element of how to make your hair healthier and avoid greasy hair. It may be determined by how often you wash your hair as well as your hair washing technique.
1. Determine the right amount of shampoo and hair washing. This can vary by your hair’s texture, shape, and consistency. For example, if you have curly or textured hair, you shouldn’t wash it more often than once a week.4
2. Apply shampoo to the roots of your hair near your scalp. Washing your hair shaft, or the ends of your hair, will leave it coarse and dull. If you’ve been washing the entire length of your hair and scrubbing with shampoo, you’ve been washing it wrong! 5
3. Most people don’t need to wash hair every single day (unless you have unusually greasy hair.) 6 In fact, washing less can result in healthier, more lustrous hair, but you should still wash your hair if it’s sweaty or dirty, such as after a workout.
4. Repeated washings can actually damage your hair and scalp. So, ignore the phrase, “lather, rinse, repeat.” Ideally, you should only lather and wash once.7
5. Does showering in cold water strengthen hair? Some people think so. The truth is, the jury is out on whether showering with warm water or cold water makes a difference to hair health. However, bathing in cold water may have a healthy impact on your overall physical and mental health.8,9
Now, in terms of how to wash your hair (and how often to do it), it might come down to trial and error.
However, if you’ve been experiencing difficulty getting your hair as shiny and healthy-looking as you want, changing up your shampoo routine is a great way to determine if over washing is causing your hair woes.
How to Wash Your Hair: Is Shampoo Necessary?
Not only is when and how to wash your hair important, but you also should consider what products you’re using to wash your hair. The so-called “no poo” method of skipping shampoo altogether has been increasingly popular, but what should you replace the shampoo with, if anything?
- “No poo,” or skipping shampoo entirely, is a growing trend. Often, people who stop using shampoo will replace it with a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar to rinse away buildup and clean hair. However, baking soda has a high PH level and can damage hair and irritate your scalp.10
- Occasional use of a clarifying shampoo may help remove product build-up in your hair. However, these products aren’t ideal for long-term use when it comes to how to properly wash your hair. Limit your clarifying shampoo use to once a week.11
- If you’re committed to sticking with traditional shampoo, you may find that switching from general shampoos to baby shampoo still keeps your hair clean while being much gentler and soothing to a dry or itchy scalp.12
Depending on your hair and skin type, you may find different products or combinations of products to be right for you. As you explore how to wash hair, you may want to speak with a stylist or dermatologist to recommend the most effective product for your hair and skin type.
Repairing the Damage if You’ve Been Washing Improperly
If you’re re-learning how to wash your hair and know you’ve been washing incorrectly in the past, you may now worry about the damage you’ve been doing to your hair. No worries, because there are ways to help your hair recover from past damage. Here’s how to make your hair healthier:
→ Conditioners are designed to strengthen hair and help it stay healthy. Regardless of whether you use shampoo regularly, include conditioners as part of your washing routine. How often should you condition your hair? If you’re not sure, ask your stylist or a dermatologist.13
→ Products with tea tree oil or witch hazel in them may help soothe irritated scalps and help keep your skin healthy, which could help keep your hair healthy.14,15
→ It may seem counterintuitive to add oil to when washing your hair, but applying sunflower, mineral, or coconut oil could help hair keep its natural protein and keep your scalp moisturized. Coconut oil works particularly well on healthy, damaged, or color-treated hair.16
Now, many of the tips above can be combined with less frequent washing and less scrubbing of hair ends in order to give your hair a more lustrous, healthy appearance. And remember: protecting your hair is an important element of how to wash hair.
Caring for Your Hair: It’s a Wash!
Whoever thought that there could be any debate over something as simple as how to wash your hair? The good news is, now you know the right steps to take to avoid breakage, keep healthy oils on your scalp, and maintain the right balance for your locks.
So, change up your hair care routine a bit and embrace your new look!
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