How often should you wash your hair?
What I’m about to say will, I think, make you feel one of three things: Relief, Surprise or Horror.
I’m nervous, but here it is anyway: I wash my hair every day.
It’s not a popular thing to do, and in fact I can’t think of another person that I know (blogger or otherwise) who has owned up to doing it. But you know me, part time myth buster and beauty missionary that I am, I’m here to bring you over to the dark side and give you the shortcut-secret to having the best hair of your life.
I’m not kidding. The best hair of your life.
When I arrived in London, one of the first things I did was have a meeting with a big London beauty PR agency who represent Philip Kingsley (trichologist, read: hair doctor). I was given his book to read, and he is responsible for my current hair revolution. Since reading his book The Hair Bible
- I wash my face every day and twice a day if I’m wearing makeup. Isn’t it then logical to wash my hair every day?
- I care about my hair-health, but what about my scalp health? Doesn’t the skin on my scalp need cleansing and (gasp!) exfoliation too? Above anything else the key to healthy hair has to be a healthy scalp. And the easiest way to keep skin healthy is to clean it regularly.
Even after those thoughts, it still took me a few days to take the plunge and start washing my hair daily.
- Your Hair’s Natural Oils: Everyone talks about this, and the loudest are people who advocate not washing your hair for weeks at a time (or… at all). I’ve been told again and again that your hair’s natural oils are very important and if you wash your hair every day, your scalp and hair will overcompensate and produce more oils. By the end of Day 1 your hair will be an oil slick and you’re f*cked. Right?
- Drying Time: My hair didn’t dry properly when I let it air-dry and when I was lazy, it just turned into a sticky, oily mess that was unmanageable and completely awful. Even using my professional Parlux hair dryer, I still had to spend 10-15 minutes to dry my hair. Was I really prepared to do that every single day?
- Scalp Health: I’d heard from various sources that people who washed their hair every day wound up with unhealthy scalps – dry, flaky, just… bad. What if washing my hair in an effort to have a healthier scalp actually had the opposite effect and did more damage?
- Conspiracy Theories: Big shampoo-owning corporates want you to wash your hair every day so you buy more of their products. Or something.
The Lightbulb Moment:
It was this excerpt in Chapter 5 in Philip Kingsley’s book “The Hair Bible” called “Everyday Care and Maintenance: The Importance of Frequent Shampooing” that was the big turning point for me (bold text is mine) –
The question I am asked most when a beauty editor wants to write on quick tips for hair is: ‘What is the one thing that you consider the most important for healthy looking hair’?’ Invariably I answer, ‘Daily shampooing.’
I didn’t always think this. When I started in practice, in 1960, the idea of frequent shampooing didn’t really occur to me. In those days, weekly washing was the norm. It was a gradual process that convinced me. I have always formulated and made my own products – shampoos included. I also introduced the concept of scalp cleansing tonics. Using a scalp tonic, for whatever purpose, resulted in the hair also getting wet. Furthermore it meant that the active ingredients (powders and crystals) in the tonics, which were predominantly distilled water based, remained on the hair. For some types of hair this wasn’t necessarily bad: for example, it gave fine, limp hair more body. However, after two to three days the hair became heavy and dirty and dull.
That was the beginning – I recommended washing more often to remove this unattractive ‘build-up’. Not only did the hair look better (it always does when freshly shampooed), but the effect of the scalp tonic was enhanced and the overall improvement on whatever the problem became more apparent.
It didn’t take long to convince me that the more the hair is shampooed, the better it responded, as well as giving the hair a superior image and improved styling and control capabilities. Using a beneficial scalp tonic wet the hair and spoiled its style anyway, so it was no big deal going a stage further and really wetting the hair with shampooing! It also occurred to me that everybody washes their face once a day, so why not the hair? You take your hair to the same places and it gets just as dirty!
In the book there’s also a very disgusting micro-close-up of someone’s hair and scalp 48 hours after shampooing, and it’s horrifyingly dirty. What can I say, I’m a visual person.
A Quick Note About My Hair
Before I get into the details of my experiment, I need to tell you a few things about my hair. First is that I don’t colour it and don’t have extensions – it’s 100% my hair, from root to tip. I’m very low maintenance in that I don’t use any hair masks or leave-in treatments on a regular basis, but you never know, this might change in the future. I also don’t straighten my hair but I used to use a hair dryer frequently (without a heat protectant, mind you, and I still don’t use one.) My hair is also very long and reaches about the middle of my back. The type of hair I have is very fine, but I have a lot of it, so hairdressers are fooled into thinking I have thick hair, but the actual hair isn’t – it’s super fine.
The 4 Philip Kingsley paragraphs convinced me and from there I made some changes to my hair regime, did some tests and introduced a control for each. Very scientific.
Test #1: I changed shampoo/conditioner products. I bought a daily shampoo and conditioner, instead of something specifically for my hair issues – split ends, lack of shine and volume usually. I figured if I was going to wash my hair every day then I need a set of products that was designed for rebels like me. Specifically what I was looking for, were products that wouldn’t strip my hair, wouldn’t leave any product-build up, and were very affordable.
The Control: To be super-sure, I switched shampoos about 4 weeks in. This was to check and see if the results I was seeing could be attributed to the shampoo/conditioner combo, or the fact that I was washing my hair every day. It’s not the shampoo, I decided. It really is the daily washing.
Test #2: I stopped using a hair dryer to dry my hair. Hot damn I was scared to do this, but I started letting my hair air dry. Sometimes I was outside so the wind or sunshine dried it, but I was frequently at home letting it dry naturally. The first day it didn’t respond too well, but by Day 2, I didn’t have any problems at all. The results were fairly instant.
The Control: I still occasionally blow dried my hair, so I could tell if it was the lack of heat that was making my hair so nice or if it was just the lack of direct heat from the hair drier. I find it makes very little difference but if I have the time I still let it air dry because I’m lazy and it’s easier.
Test #3: Different Air. Having just moved from Sydney to London, I was curious to see if the air here would make a difference to my hair.
The Control: It was still cold Sydney when I left to go to NZ where it was snowing, and London when I arrived was roughly temperature. The different air thing was a non-issue, but if anything I think it would have done more damage to my hair than good, which to me makes the results even more amazing.
Also: Since washing my hair daily and at the time of writing, I haven’t used any hair masks, treatment, or any product besides my daily shampoo and conditioner.
Did It Work?
Of course it did! Let me tell you though… It only took a week, but I now have the Kim Kardashian hair that I’ve always wanted. Hers is obviously thicker and she has thousands of dollars worth of hair extensions, but you know the way it moves, all slinky-like? My hair moves like that now.
- I now have perfect Day 2 hair when it only used to happen on Day 1. I know, obvious, but on the days that I’m lazy and don’t wash my hair every day (rare now, but it happens) at 5pm on Day 2, it’s still soft, silky and manageable. I used to live half my life in a ponytail because when I was washing my hair every 2 days, when I woke up on Day 2 my hair was already an oil slick. Those days are now completely gone. I have hair freedom!
- Scalp Health & No Dandruff: I don’t have a microscope so I can’t tell you what my scalp really looks like, but it feels healthy and clean, much more than it used to. The way I personally measure it though is dandruff (because I don’t ever have dermatitis or other scalp issues). I used to get a bit of dandruff here and there, which I know now happens for a few reasons – bad scalp health is one, but stress and environmental factors play a big part too. I’m still stressed and living in a big city, but the little white flakes that used to sometimes make an appearance are now gone gone gone.
- Faster Drying Time: Since washing my hair daily has made my hair & scalp healthy and clean, my hair is ready to go couple of hours if I let it air-dry. I never used to be able to do this, and it would have been really hard to have to wash my hair daily and spend 15 minutes blow drying it, despite the resulting benefits.
- Healthy, Smooth, Well-Moisturised, Silky Hair. I can put my hair in a braid now and it falls out like a shampoo commercial. I’m not kidding. It doesn’t tangle, it doesn’t fall out, it has volume, strength and shine. It’s the best hair I’ve ever had.
Also, I’m not 100% sure on this yet, but I think my hair is growing faster. My fringe especially doesn’t usually need a cut this soon.
I used to plan my activities around washing my hair, because I knew that I couldn’t go out with my friends in the evening of Day 2 because my hair would look greasy and awful. An actual weight has been lifted off my shoulders because now I can do whatever I want, knowing my hair is going to look great no matter what.
It’s been seven weeks now and I’m not going back to washing my hair every second day like I used to. It just seems completely ridiculous to me, because every single objection I used to have is no longer an issue.
And as for that natural hair oil thing? Total bollocks as far as I’m concerned. If you only wash your hair 3 times a week, I dare you to stop wearing makeup and start washing your face at the same rate. Come back and tell me if it makes a difference.
Your turn. Have I convinced you to try washing your hair every day or do you think I’m crazy and doing irreparable damage to my hair/scalp? Tell me in the comments.