Images by Jessica Wu
Sometimes I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to treating my hair right. On one hand, my wife is a clean / hygiene freak and won’t let me get into bed if I haven’t showered and shampooed first. Even if I’ve showered right before going out to dinner on a weekend, she’ll insist that the odors from the restaurant - the cooking fumes, outdoor air pollutants, etc. are on me and in my hair, and she can smell it. On the other hand, washing my hair once or even twice daily makes it dry and frizzy. Then again, there’s my scalp to contend with - 2 days without washing will surely result in an itchy, flaky, irritated scalp. So finding the right balance is elusive, to say the least.
Recently there has been a distinct trend, in the fashionable circles to which I do not belong, towards less frequent hair washing, specifically ditching shampoo in favor of natural. It’s called the “no poo movement”. At least the name is catchy. I would have thought it was referencing another common issue, but let’s get back on point. There are some good reasons to think about washing your hair with shampoo less frequently than you probably do now:
Oil isn’t all bad, Oily hair gets a bad rap, but the sebum your scalp produces is vital to healthy, shiny hair.
- Too frequent washing of the scalp with harsh cleansers can upset that microbiome, and an imbalance in the microbiome can lead to scalp problems,"
- A combination of hot water and overwash may cause the scalp to dry out that will cause dandruff
- Overall, washing your hair too often will strip the hair of its natural oils and can dull hair colour."
- If you color your hair, frequent washing will mean you get less bang for your buck, as color will fade more quickly and you’ll have to reapply color treatment more often, which is in itself damaging to hair.
So what is the correct frequency for hair washing? The answer, as is all too often the case, is, it depends on your individual hair type and scalp condition. If you have dry, thick, curly, coarse, textured or Afro-Caribbean hair, less is better. One to three times per week may be perfect. If you have fine, thin, oily/greasy hair, or your scalp becomes itchy and flaky after several days without a wash, you may need 4-5 washes per week minimum.
One thing most of us could agree on is that neither the “never poo” crowd, nor the obsessive shampoo-crazed set who wash multiple times a day and make everyone around them feel dirty (sorry honey) are groups that suit us well. A happy medium for many would be to skip at least a day or two of hair washing per week, to encourage our natural shine and lessen frizzy, unmanageable hair. Here are a few tips:
- "Look for a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser that is balanced with essential oils so it won't strip out your hair's natural oils, and make sure you use silicone-free conditioners with natural essential oils and conditioning agents to ensure cuticle health," he recommends.
- When cooking or doing other activities where you may be exposed to a lot of dust and odors, try wearing a shower cap to prevent unwanted odor and particles from entering your hair.
- For a simple, pure and natural cleanse, use baking soda combined with water to scrub your scalp.
- Use apple cider vinegar to rinse the baking soda from your strands. You can add a drop or two of essential oil of your choice to counter the scent of the vinegar if that bothers you, but some people may have sensitivities to certain essential oils.
- Use Coconut Oil, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, or Aloe Vera to replace standard shampoo.
- Use nothing but water to cleanse your scalp and hair.
- Just let it go, keep your hair high and dry in lieu of washing, since even plain old water is actually not your hair’s best friend, believe it or not!
Do a little experimenting on your hair washing routine to find out what works best for you, but remember, you should give your hair and scalp a little time to adjust before declaring success or failure, since your scalp’s natural oil production will adjust on its own in response to less frequently stripping it with hot water and shampoo. What hair washing routing works best for you? Feel free to comment or drop us a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org!