PSA: This Is How Often You Should Be Washing Your Hair 

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: May 7, 2024

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Quick Answer

You should be washing your hair every 1-2 days. This will depend on what type of hair you have, your hairstyle, and your age.

Every day, twice a week, maybe just once a month? If you’re trying to nail down a specific figure for how often you should wash your hair, expect a different answer from everyone you ask.

Annoyingly, researching the subject online will usually give you little joy too as even the experts can’t seem to agree on exactly how often you should be sudsing up your tresses. Why? Because no two people have the exact same hair type!

Long, short, fine, thick, wavy, curly, the list goes on and on. Not to mention, the external factors that affect our hair like the weather, working out, swimming, wearing hats, and more.

It’s all about trial and error and finding a wash schedule that works best for you and your unique hair type. That’s not to say we can’t offer some guidance along the way. And, with a series of expert tips and tricks, that’s exactly what we’re going to do… 

What Happens To Your Hair When You Don’t Wash It?

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Just as it’s not a good idea to wash your hair every single day, leaving it too long in between washes can cause issues too. The main culprit? The overproduction of natural oils from your scalp, otherwise known as sebum.

In moderation, sebum will do wonders for your hair health. It’s responsible for essential moisture production and also creates a protective barrier for your hair. This helps to combat external damage from heat styling, harsh weather, pollution, and more.

However, if sebum is repeatedly left to sit on the scalp and in your hair, it creates a build up which can lead to scalp irritation, dandruff, and greasy looking locks.  

How Should I Wash My Hair For The Best Results?

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As the saying goes, nothing changes if nothing changes. When you’re unhappy with how your hair looks and feels but you’re still washing it in the same way, with the same shampoo, on the same days every week, you’re never going to see an improvement. That is, until you mix things up. 

Everyone’s hair is different and, as we’ve covered, exactly how often you need to wash it differs from person to person. That said, the following tips make a great jumping-off point. Try following the steps and adjust as you go.

Reduce how often you wash your locks if you’re noticing dryness, wash it more if you’re seeing too much oil. Either way, this washing process itself, in our experience, works every time no matter if your hair is thick or fine, wavy or straight, long or short. 

  1. Brush your hair from tips to roots before showering. Going in with tangle free locks will make detangling post-wash so much easier.
  1. Wet your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water. Avoid hot water as this will damage the keratin bonds in your hair making it feel dryer, weaker, and more brittle.
  1. Use the right shampoo for your hair type by checking the list of ingredients beforehand. 
  1. Soothe your scalp and gently remove any build-up of dirt or oil with a gentle head massage. Massage for 1-2 minutes and use your fingertips tips, never your nails, for this.  
  1. Rinse your hair with lukewarm water. Make sure the water runs clean and all of the product is gone and not still sitting in your hair before moving on to the next step.
  1. Apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. Leave it on for a couple of minutes then rinse fully. Don’t leave any conditioner in your hair or you’ll notice a greasy build up once it’s dry. 
  1. Pat your hair dry. Do this gently with a clean, soft, dry towel. A microfibre one whenever possible. 

Do You Have To Wash Your Hair After A Workout?

When you’re super busy with work, home life, and a million other things, fitting in a workout takes up enough time without having to sort out your hair afterward. The question is, do we really need to be washing our hair every time we get a sweat on? It all depends on your scalp! 

If yours is prone to flaking or particularly oily, it’s usually best to wash your hair after working out. This will prevent a build-up of oil and sweat on your scalp which can create redness, irritation, and dandruff.

If your hair doesn’t get all that oily and you don’t notice regular dandruff, skipping a post-sweat hair wash every now and then shouldn’t do your hair any harm. Just make sure you don’t do this every time or you’ll likely start to notice that irritation creeping in.

Think it’s just too gross to leave sweat in your hair? Remember, sweat is 99% water and just 1% salt, fat, and other minerals. Nothing a refreshing spritz of dry shampoo can’t fix!

Should You Wash Your Hair After Swimming?

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Stepping out of the pool with that post-swim glow, it’s tempting to let your hair dry off in the sun, especially when relaxing on vacation. However, leaving chlorine to sit in your hair is, unfortunately, not a good idea.

Chlorine is a relatively strong chemical that can, over time, irritate your scalp and make your hair porous. That leaves it exposed to damage and can be pretty tricky to fix. It can also change the color of dyed hair, and weaken the keratin bonds which leads to hair stretching, split ends, and even breakage.

As for seawater, yes, that can damage your hair too. With such a high salt content, it quickly draws out moisture from the outer layers of your hair causing dehydration. This results in dry, frizzy locks that if not washed will be prone to breaking. 

The solution? Always wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo after swimming. Then, treat the ends and mid-lengths with a nourishing conditioner to restore any lost moisture.

How Often Should You Wash Fine Hair?

Now, we know there are countless hair types out there but, we can’t exactly list them all. What we can do is give a rough idea of how often you should wash your locks depending on whether they’re on the finer or the thicker side.

From there, knowing the texture of your hair better than anyone, you can make a more informed decision depending on the texture it’s closest to. 

So, if your hair happens to be on the finer side, don’t fret. Washing it every 1-2 days is perfectly normal.

It shouldn’t damage your locks provided you’re using a lightweight shampoo and conditioner combo. However, avoid drowning your hair in formulas with a high oil or butter content (we’re talking argan, shea, and coconut). These are great for softness and shine, but those with finer hair will notice how quickly hair becomes greasy after using them.

Instead, look for shampoos and conditioners containing lightweight ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe vera. These will aid your scalp health and even help to volumize your locks from within.  

How Often Should You Wash Thick Hair?

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Those blessed with lustrous long locks and thick, healthy strands with tons of volume? You’re probably also blessed with only needing to wash your hair a couple of times a week.

Much like curly hair, your thick tresses take much longer to redistribute the oils from your scalp. Therefore, your hair generally feels and looks cleaner for much longer than someone with fine hair. 

That’s not to say that just because your hair looks clean it is clean, however. You still shouldn’t be going too long between washes. As well as natural hair oil, everyday dirt and grime will play a part in how often you need to wash your hair. You’ll want to keep it clean and clear for strong and healthy locks in the long run.  

So, what’s the magic number? As a rule of thumb, we say washing thick hair twice a week should do the trick. If it’s very long and you just don’t feel it needs a cleanse that often, with regular de-tangling (and likely the help of a great dry shampoo) you can often get away with just once a week. 

Should You Wash Straight Hair More Often Than Curly Hair?

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In a word, yes. Generally, straighter hair will require cleaning more often than curly locks.

The spirally nature of curly hair means the sebum from your scalp takes considerably longer to work its way down the strands. Because of this, curly tresses tend to be drier. Since washing your hair removes those oils, shampooing curly locks too frequently will result in a lot of frizz, tangles, and often even breakage. 

With straight hair, however, those natural oils have little to no problem sliding their way quickly from root to tip. If you sometimes wear your hair straight and other times curly, we’re willing to bet you notice how much faster your hair becomes greasy on straight style days! 

With that in mind, straighter hair will need a little more attention in the wash department. But again, this can differ from person to person. If your hair is on the drier side and you still find it takes days to feel moisturized and healthy again, don’t wash it frequently just because you think you should.

Take longer breaks between shampooing those locks and maybe even consider a nourishing hair mask. This will help with moisture production and leave your hair feeling soft, shiny, and smooth.

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