They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but in my opinion, a woman’s hair is up there, too. I don’t know about you, but I put a lot of stock in my hairstyle. In some ways, I feel like it identifies me to the world, and I want it to represent me right. For that reason (and a whole host of others) I care a lot about washing and taking care of my hair. I’ve heard for years that the less often you wash your hair the healthier it is. But how often should you wash your hair?

Since my hair gets oily pretty quickly, I’m still in a routine of washing every morning. Especially when my hair is as short as it is right now, I just can’t handle the grease factor. I can maybe get away with one day of not washing, but I feel gross all day if I go without. Since I’m starting to consider longer hair again, though, this seemed like the time to get my research done – and I’m here today to pass it on to you!

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How Often Is Too Often?

It all depends. That’s not a remotely satisfying answer, but there’s a lot of truth to it. How often should you wash your hair? There are a whole host of questions that go into finding an answer. Is your hair straight or curly? Thick or thin? Dry or oily? How often do you work out? Et cetera, et cetera.

Luckily, there are some basic guidelines that you can stick with to figure it out. There’s going to be some trial and error because you will need to take time to determine what’s right for you. The key is to only wash your hair when it’s actually dirty – not oily or salty from sweat, but actually with dirt or other build up. How quickly that happens will vary from person to person.

What Texture Hair Do You Have?

Whether your hair is straight or curly makes a difference in how often you should shampoo. Straight hair is naturally oilier than curly hair because the oils travel more easily down the strands of hair. Curly hair, on the other hand, has a tendency to be naturally dry and brittle, especially at the ends.

Shampoo washes away the natural moisturizers in the hair. Since the hair’s oils take much longer to run the length of a curly strand with all the twists and turns, washing too often can seriously damage your hair. You should rinse your hair every day regardless of its texture, and you can opt to use conditioner every day to moisturize your hair if it’s particularly dry.

In general, a full wash is recommended for curly hair once a week. For straight hair, you can do more like two to three times a week without causing damage. If your hair is wavy or has loose curls, you can probably wash about as often as your straight-haired friends. If you notice dryness or ends splitting, though, decrease the frequency of washes.

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What Skin Type Do You Have?

This question refers to the amount of oil that your skin naturally produces. If you consider yourself to have a “normal” amount of oil, then you should be washing every 3-4 days. Remember, a wash isn’t the same as a rinse. It’s totally fine (and recommended!) to run your fingers through your hair in the water while you shower to rinse out the excess oils.

If you have super oily hair, the key is to make sure that you’re not weighing down your hair with heavy conditioners or products. One stylist that I saw recommended using a clarifying treatment every other week or so to purge the high level of oil. You can safely wash your hair a bit more often if this is your situation, but opt for a leave-in conditioner instead of the heavy, lotion-like standard.

If you have a particularly dry scalp, you need to be especially careful about how often you wash. If this is a condition that you seriously struggle with, it’s recommended that you see a dermatologist. There can be many causes for dry scalp, so you won’t really know how to treat it unless you know what’s going on.

That said, I learned something new while researching this! Dandruff is actually the result of excess oil on the scalp. If you think dandruff is your problem (it presents with yellowish-white flakes that appear a few days after washing), invest in a dandruff-specific shampoo. Use the dandruff shampoo as often as you want – I usually replace my everyday shampoo with my dandruff shampoo once or twice a week.

How Often Do You Work Out or Style Your Hair?

The more you put your hair through the paces, the more often you can get away with washing it. If you use heavy products almost every day, you want to be sure to wash those out promptly. Again, stylists recommend that you use a clarifying shampoo every so often to cleanse your hair more fully. This is especially important if you use a hair dryer or another heat-based tool on your hair often.

As for working out, this is where it really comes down to personal choice. You definitely don’t have to wash your hair every time you work out (but please do soap up the rest of you to get rid of the sweat!) but you do naturally produce more oils when you exercise, so it won’t do as much damage. If you opt not to shower, you’ll be able to have a nice, beachy style because the salt in your sweat has the same effect as salt water from the ocean!

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Conclusion

The key is to only wash your hair as often as you have to. The shorter your hair is, the more quickly the oil travels down the strand. That means that your hair will look oily faster, but doesn’t necessarily mean that your hair is dirtier sooner. In general, try to wash no more often than every other day. If you really want to wash every day (and if I’m being honest, I’ll fall into that category at least until my hair is long enough to tie back!), be sure that you take other measures to make sure your hair isn’t damaged.

So what do you think? Should you be washing your hair less? Are you already on par with the expectation and loving it? Is there another reason that you decided to wash less often? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.