Shampooing: Should I Do It Every Day?

Patient Expert

Reader: I heard that I shouldn't wash my hair every day, but I feel gross if I don't. Is it true that shampooing every day is bad?

When it comes to daily shampooing, the experts are split. Some say every day is perfectly acceptable; others say ease up on the daily washing. I say it depends on your hair type, but holding on to a blow-out for an extra day is worth dealing with slightly dirty hair.

For starters, there's no clear reason why you must shampoo your hair on a daily basis. Some hair stylists and dermatologists believe that too much washing strips your hair and scalp of natural oils, leading to flakes and frizz. If your hair is color-treated, more frequent shampooing will fade the dye more quickly, leading to extra trips to the salon.

In terms of health issues, debates continue regarding the safety of chemicals in hair products. Sodium laureth sulfate, a common lathering ingredient, can be a skin irritant. While very few advocate abandoning shampoo altogether, some consumers now choose to shampoo fewer times a week in order to minimize scalp dryness and irritation.

Plus, daily washing usually means daily styling. If you use a blow dryer or any other heat-styling tool, your hair is much more likely to suffer from split ends and frizz. Cutting down on daily heat-styling will help maintain the health of your hair.

Many other hair experts believe that daily shampooing is a good thing. Trichologists people who study scalp and hair diseases believe that oily scalps need daily shampoos in order to eliminate excess sebum.

And for purely aesthetic reasons, people with fine hair tend to prefer freshly-lathered hair to the limp locks that can occur when oil weighs down hair at the roots. Those who are in the habit of washing their hair every day may also find it difficult to get used to even a day or two of unwashed hair.

There is really no right or wrong number for how often you should shampoo your hair per week. If you have fine, oily hair, it's probably best to wash daily. If you have color-treated, dry hair, you'll probably benefit from reducing the frequency of shampoos.

If you wash your hair daily and want to ease up on shampoo (or just want to make a salon blow-out last an extra day), try a dry shampoo to give your hair volume and absorb excess oil. Bumble and Bumble's Hair Powder is a popular option, but you can also just use baby powder. Sprinkle onto the roots of your hair and brush through until your hair looks restored.

On the other hand, if you can't give up the daily ritual of lathering and rinsing, try to avoid applying shampoo to the ends of the hair. One way to maintain healthy hair is to apply conditioner before shampoo. Rub conditioner onto the bottom half of your locks and then massage shampoo only into the scalp. When you rinse, you'll have a clean scalp with minimal drying to the more vulnerable ends of your hair.