Should I shampoo every day?

Should I shampoo every day? The short answer is it depends. Washing hair doesn’t always require shampoo. Some people swear by daily shampooing, while others are better off to shampoo less frequently. Let’s take a closer look.

Hair and scalp care: keep it clean

Although good hair and scalp care does include keeping it clean, one can get too much of a good thing.

Cleaning the hair and scalp are important to remove excess oil, dead skin cells, dirt, products and pollution that side from bad smells, can create an inflammatory environment on the scalp.  Inflammation can cause certain skin diseases such as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff or psoriasis to flare.  It can also contribute to hair loss.

On the other hand, shampooing your hair too often can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and prone to breakage. People with color treated or permed hair are also prone to hair damage if they shampoo daily.

So, if you want to maintain healthy, lustrous hair, it’s best to shampoo no more than three or four times per week. That being said, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Learn more about hair loss

Washing hair without shampoo

It is important to remember that cleaning hair does not always require shampoo.

If you engage in activities that make you sweat heavily, such as exercise, you may need to clean hair more often.

There are other ways to keep the scalp and hair clean that avoid some of the damage of using shampoo daily. These may allow for more washing without drying hair out:

  • Shampoo vs. cowash

    • Shampoo and co-wash are both hair cleaning products, but they have some differences in their formulations and purposes.
      • Shampoo is a hair cleaning product that typically contains surfactants, which are ingredients that help to remove dirt, oil, and product buildup from the hair and scalp.
      • Shampoo is generally used to clean the hair thoroughly and is recommended for use when the hair is particularly dirty or oily.
      • Most shampoos are formulated with specific hair types or concerns in mind, such as dryness, dandruff, or color-treated hair, so it’s important to choose the right shampoo for your hair type.
      • Co-wash, on the other hand, is a conditioner-based product that is formulated to cleanse the hair without stripping it of its natural oils.
      • Co-wash typically contains gentler surfactants or none at all, and it may also include moisturizing and conditioning ingredients like oils, butters, and emollients.
      • Co-wash is recommended for use when the hair is not excessively dirty or oily and when the scalp needs gentle cleansing.
  • Washing hair with conditioner

    • See co-wash above
  • Washing hair with just water

    • This may be a good option if the hair isn’t actually dirty or oily, especially if one has already shampooed that day.

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How often to shampoo oily hair?

If you have an oily scalp and hair, you may need to shampoo more frequently to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh. This is especially true of people with straighter hair. Straight hair tends to appear more greasy as the oil from the scalp is able to make it’s way down the shaft.  This is why people with straight hair may need to, and can tolerate, shampooing more frequently–in some cases every day.

How often should black hair be washed?

Black people, Africans, or African Americans, can have a variety of hair textures but generally have tightly coiled, kinky and curly hair.

Curly and kinky hair tends to be naturally drier, less oily and more prone to breakage. Using shampoo too frequently, such as daily, will damage this type of hair. Some hair styles popular with African Americans are hard to maintain with frequent shampooing.

Although at a minimum black hair should be shampooed every 1-2 weeks, daily shampooing is too frequent. On the other hand, shampooing less than weekly increases the risk of seborrheic dermatitis, or “dry scalp” flares.

People who are not African American, but have more curly textured hair should also shampoo less frequently.  This doesn’t mean that the hair can’t be washed with cowash,  just water or conditioner in between shampoos.

Learn more about African American dermatology!

Watch: Hair discrimination and hair loss

How often to wash colored treated hair and permed hair

As with people with curly or kinky hair, people with color treated or permed hair may also benefit from less frequent shampoo.  Anything that changes the color or texture of hair makes it more prone to drying out and being damaged.

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How often should I wash my hair with seborrheic dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff, is a chronic, recurrent inflammatory condition. It commonly involves the scalp, however, but also the face, ears and bearded areas can be involved.

Sometimes people refer to condition as “dry scalp,” however, oiliness contributes to seborrheic dermatitis.

People with this condition typically get flakes in the hair and greasy, scaly plaques on the scalp.  The scalp can also itch and burn. Yeast that naturally live on the scalp that feed on skin cells and oil contribute to seborrheic dermatitis.

The condition is hard to control if a person shampoos less than once a week.  Dandruff shampoos, topical steroids and antifungal creams can sometimes allow for less frequent shampooing.

In conclusion

So, how often should you shampoo your hair? The answer depends on your hair type, lifestyle, conditions and personal preferences.  While it may be tempting to shampoo your hair every day, doing so, in many cases, can actually do more harm than good.

Instead, aim to shampoo no more than three or four times per week. Adjust your shampooing frequency based on your hair type, lifestyle, medical conditions and personal preferences.

Consider shampoo alternatives to keep hair clean.

And remember, good hair care habits, such as using the right products and avoiding excessive heat styling, are just as important as shampooing when it comes to maintaining healthy, beautiful hair.

. If you have dry or curly hair, you may be able to get away with shampooing just once a week. On the other hand, if you have fine or oily hair, you may need to shampoo more often to avoid greasiness.

Need more advice on hair or scalp care? Schedule a consultation with our hair dermatologist here!

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