How Often Should You Wash Your Hair? - Public Goods

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How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

When I was younger, I used to have hair all the way down my back.

black woman with curly hair
Image Credit: Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz

It was a bit rough and kind of big, but it was long! To combat its texture and size, my mother started putting chemicals in it to make it straight and lay flat. That stuff wrecked my hair and caused it to break.

Despite that deterioration, I kept it up, going to the salon about every other month to get a relaxer. I did this routine from ages 13 to 21. Because of that damage, I haven’t been able to grow my hair past my shoulders. In an effort to regain the body and length of my youth, I cut off all of my hair in September of 2014 to start over. In doing so, I had to learn a whole new hair regimen, and let me tell you, dealing with my hair is definitely a regimen.

In the African American natural hair society, we have dubbed the time in which we shampoo and condition our hair as “wash day,” aptly named because it takes just about a whole day to wash and style our hair. When I first started my natural hair journey, the number of hair care products I owned more than doubled. I had to purchase shampoos and conditioners that are formulated specifically for natural hair as well as curl creams, oils, co-washes and gels. I watched YouTube video after YouTube video on how to style my hair.

One of the only things that didn’t change for me, as I went from chemically treated hair to natural hair, is how often I washed my hair. Just as before, I washed my hair a maximum of once a week.

Because it now takes me so long to wash my hair, I only have time to wash it once a week. Fortunately this cadence is all my hair needs to stay clean.

How often you should wash your hair, much like how often you should take a shower, varies from person-to-person.

How often you should wash your hair, much like how often you should take a shower, varies from person-to-person. Factors, such as hair type, amount of products used and the condition of your scalp, affect how often you should wash your hair. Hairstylist Nicole Stimitz told Health that, although there is no universal rule, washing your hair too much can strip it of necessary natural oils, such as sebum, and cause your hair to become extremely dry.

If your hair and scalp are normal — not too dry or too oily — washing your hair one to three times a week is ideal. Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, explained that washing your hair every day can cause your hair to get greasier sooner due to the sebaceous glands in your scalp becoming overactive. At the same time, if you use a lot of products every day and have an oily scalp, washing your hair every day may be necessary, according to Stimitz. Even so, those daily washes should focus on the scalp where grease and dirt buildup is most present.

Length is another important factor, according to Philipp Haug, Toni & Guy artistic director, in conversation with Glamour Magazine. The longer your hair is, the less often you really need to wash it. Nonetheless, even if your hair is incredibly short, washing it every day will still strip it of its natural oils and can dull its color.

Not only is it important to make note of how often you wash your hair and what shampoos and conditioners you’re using, the temperature of the water you wash your hair with is an important element of your hair care routine. Hot water can strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils just like the sulphates in shampoo that create a lather. Celebrity Hairstylist and SheaMoisture Ambassador Jason Collier recommended that you always wash your hair with room temperature water and that rinsing your hair with cold water can actually make it shinier.

There’s also the amount of time you spend each shower. A few minutes in the shower a day won’t affect your hair as much as 30-minute daily rinses.

Information is all good and well, but in the end, how often you wash your hair is up to you. It takes me a while to get my hair all clean and styled, so the less often I have to do that, the better. For others, washing their hair is as routine as brushing their teeth in the morning. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

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Comments (2)

  • Love that we’re talking about black natural hair on this site! I feel super represented and like this company values me as a part of their target demographic. One of the hardest things for me about being natural is the amount of products that I have to use. I’ve been trying to move towards zero waste and this is an area where it’s hard to minimize. So much packaging! If PG started selling oils (olive, jojoba, or almond) and refill packs that would be amazing! And some kind of moisture packed hair cream! I’d try it instantly! Anyway, love this content and this brand!!

    • Thank you, Summer! I manage the Public Goods Blog, and I’m so happy to see comments like this. I forwarded your product suggestions to our team.

      We do sell olive oil and many essential oils. Jojoba and almond oil haven’t launched yet, but we’ll let you know when they do. We already have refill bags for several products, too (mostly personal care and cleaning). I’m not sure people receive notifications and links for comments here (to avoid spam), so I’ll email you the rest of the info.

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