If an alien landed on Earth, picked up a bottle of shampoo and proceeded to follow the directions on the back of it without knowing anything about hair care, there’s a good chance she’s end up with dry, frizzy and damaged locks. Even though we know so much more now about how to care for different hair types, many shampoo bottles still advise that we wash, rinse and repeat. What’s the deal with that last sliver of beauty advice? Are we all under-washing our hair without even knowing it?
The answer to this million dollar question is… It depends–both on your hair and the products you’re using. Turns out, the simple act of shampooing your strands isn’t as cut and dry as you may think.
“Shampooing your hair can be tricky, and the how to, when to, and what to varies from person to person,” says hairstylist Valerie Alessandro. “We all have different hair types and textures and with that comes different needs. I always advise my clients to use a salon-trusted shampoo and conditioner. To maintain your color and overall hair health, ask your stylist to suggest a shampoo that fits your needs. It’s similar to a prescription your doctor gives you after your appointment.”
The number of times you should shampoo your hair each week also depends on your specific hair needs. The instructions on your shampoo might as well say: only do this if you have an oily scalp and one round isn’t enough.
“People with thicker hair can sometimes get away with washing just once or twice a week,” Alessandro says. “People with thinner hair may have to wash daily or every other day. A lot of directions on the bottle say to wash rinse then repeat, but not everyone needs to repeat. When washing, you want to add water to your hair as you’re shampooing to get a lather. If you feel like it is not lathering much, then repeat.”
If you aren’t sure whether your hair really needs that second lather, it will let you know sooner rather than later: over shampooing can strip the hair of its natural oils and actually cause more oil and irritation to the scalp, Alessandro says.
If you’d rather be safe than sorry and want to avoid over-washing, Alessandro recommends spraying in a dry shampoo at the root to suck up some of the oil to get you through the day. “Or try a fun ponytail or braid style in between washes,” she says.
For more beauty tips, check out are ponytails really bad for hair? and 6 things every woman should do to her hair before going to sleep.
Follow me at @lisafogarty on Twitter.