While some people insist washing their locks every day is the only way to keep grease at bay, others can go up to a week without touching their tresses with shampoo.
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To deduce whether you're on point with your shampooing, or could go a day or two longer without (hello, free time), here's what the experts have to say...
DO NOT wash your hair every day
Experts do have divided opinions about this, but the argument tends to lean towards restraining from overzealous washing.
"Washing your hair too often is drying and damaging. Many shampoos contain harsh chemicals like sulphates that are used to create lather", says Adir Abergel, Celebrity Hairstylist and Creative Director for Virtue.
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Daily washing is particularly bad for longer hair, according to Toni & Guy International Artistic Director and London Hairdresser of the Year 2018 Finalist, Philipp Haug.
"For shorter hair, it’s not as bad as the hair is more virginal", he says. "Overall, washing your hair too often will strip the hair of its natural oils and can dull hair colour."
So how often should you wash it?
As a general rule, most experts recommend washing your hair every 2-3 days. This will, of course, vary depending on your hair type.
"Generally speaking, thick brunette and Asian hair types tend to get greasy quite quickly and should be washed more regularly – maybe around 3+ times a week", says Jake Wanstall from Jo Hansford. "Whereas coloured, over-processed, textured or Afro-Caribbean type hair tends to be drier and can go longer without being washed (eg. 1+ times a week)."
Lifestyle factors will also impact your schedule on top of this, for example if you do sweaty workouts, use a lot of styling product or work in polluted environments, you may want/need to wash your hair more.
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If you've fallen into the cycle of daily washing, Guy Parsons, founder of My Hair Doctor, says it may take some time to adjust to lengthier in-between periods, as your hair oil glands are likely to be overstimulated, creating 'oily hair'.
But if you can manage to stick it out, your hair will reset and you'll find you can go longer between washes without the greasy feeling.
What if waiting so long makes me dry shampoo dependent?
Dry shampoo – our Lord and saviour for greasy hair – is a-ok to use consecutively on your non-wash days. Even if that's 4-5 days.
"If the dry shampoo is lightweight enough, feel free to use as much dry shampoo as often as you need!", says Adir Abergel, recommending the Virtue Refresh Dry Shampoo (£15). "However, after a few days, the product will start to build up and need be washed. Too much product build-up can start to irritate the scalp."
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It's for this reason that Jake Wanstall from Jo Hansford, warns against using too much during application. "Only use it where it’s needed – at the roots, around the crown and through the fringe area", he says.
"Make sure you hold the can at least 30cm away from your hair and start off with a few light mists and work in. I think a lot of people have the tendency to use more than needed, and it can have the opposite effect of making hair look greasy and feel heavy."
What sort of shampoos should we be using to prolong the time between washes?
If you already suffer with dry hair, washing your tresses regularly will only dry them out more and require even more styling if you’re not careful with your shampoo choices.
Drying sulphates are the first ingredients you should consider ditching in your hair washing routine. These chemicals are added to formulas as foaming agents to form a lather. Celebrity Hairstylist and SheaMoisture Ambassador, Jason Collier explains: “Do not use sulphate-based products. They are extremely harsh agents that strip your hair of its natural oils and nutrients – they really aren’t required.”
Besides opting for a sulphate-free formula, some experts believe that the pH level of your shampoo also plays a huge part in how well your hair reacts to frequent washes. Ambassador for Headmasters Salons, Jonathan Soons explains: “If you’re exercising everyday and can’t resist washing your hair daily, be sure to use the lowest PH shampoo you can get - it’s about keeping moisture in the hair.” More acidic formulas that sit further down the pH scale don’t strip the hair as harshly as ones that are more alkaline.
Does the way that I’m washing my hair affect how regular my washes are?
In short, yes. Primarily, the most important thing to keep an eye on when you’re washing your hair (after the shampoo you’re using, of course) is water temperature. While sulphates can strip your hair and scalp of its natural, moisturising oils, having the heat cranked up on your shower can do the same. The cooler the temperature of the water you rinse with, the better shape your hair will be in afterwards.
Jason Collier reveals: “The temperature of your water is actually a really important element when it comes to your hair care routine. I recommend to always wash your hair with room temperature water. If your shower is too hot, the water removes all of the naturally-produced oils that strengthen your hair. A cold rinse at the end can actually maximise shine.”