As a hairdresser I run into the question often. When should I wash my hair? Well my answer is different depending on the situation.
If you are going to be getting your hair colored, then no, you do not need to wash your hair prior to the service. Why? Well a couple reasons. The big one is that when you stimulate your scalp by scrubbing you may make it sensitive to the color application if you are applying color directly to the scalp. Some people are more sensitive than others. I prefer my clients to be comfortable when getting their hair service. If you are getting a highlight you could go either way. I prefer the scalp dirty. When I say dirty I don’t mean a week dirty. A day or two tops, otherwise the color has to fight through a lot of natural oils.
If you are going to an event and you are getting an up do, most stylist will prefer your hair dirty as well. Again, a day dirty not a greasy mess. They will work with dry shampoos to absorb excess oils, but having some oils in the hair makes it easier to shape and hold pins. If you have really oily hair and can’t go a day without, then I suggest shampooing with a volumizing shampoo and NO CONDITIONER! Why am I yelling? Because the conditioner will make it way to slippery.
Now, lets get into a whole other ball of wax, or in this case oil. How long should you go without washing your hair in typical circumstances? If you have oily hair you probably won’t go longer than every other day other wise you look homeless. If you have dry, coarse, curly hair you can easily go 2-3 days, maybe longer. It’s good to give dry hair a break however if you do go 3 days or more without washing your hair, I highly recommend washing your hair twice. Why? Because the first shampoo is barely breaking down the build up of oils and odor causing debris and on the scalp and the second shampoo is actually cleansing the scalp and hair. Trust me, you may not notice but your hair starts to smell a little rip after 3 days. We sweat and get warm and your hair holds in all those aromas. Ladies with especially thick hair holds moisture and we all know a dirty dish rag smells like. One shampoo isn’t going to cut it unless you want to smell like wet dog. I know harsh right? But hey I’m here to speak the truth and help you out. You’ll notice that the first shampoo will hardly foam and the second shampoo is rich with lather. If that second shampoo is still not lathering then do a third.
I won’t go into all the shampoos I like so I will list one brand. I love ALTERNA shampoos and conditioners. There are many to choose from. They are a professional line, they cleanse well, leave the hair soft and don’t contain parabens and other nasty ingredients. Products free of parabens are really important to me and I always make sure the products I offer my clients are safe.
It’s important to remember to rinse the hair thoroughly from shampoo or conditioner. Why? Because other wise you are leaving a film on the hair making it dry, brittle and dull. We all want shiny hair. That being said, I’m not a fan of leave in conditioner as they often can leave the hair dull over time. Find an excellent conditioner and a wide tooth comb and comb through while in the shower. This should help with comb out. Also another great tool is a Wet Brush. They comb through the knottiest hair very easily.
Which leads me to what I call a “mom mistake“. If you are washing your kids hair DO NOT rinse their hair with dirty soapy bath water! Why? Because you are leaving all that filth and soap in their hair, which when it dries gets stuck on the hair and builds up each time you bathe them and eventually makes the hair very tangly and dull. Think of the glass in your shower when it gets soap scum. This happens to hair that isn’t rinsed with fresh water. Rinsing with dirty water makes combing hair that much more painful for everyone involved too. I know it seems convenient to take that bucket of bath water and rinse her hair but trust me you are not doing yourself any favors with comb out. Again I suggest a Wet Brush for combing though kids hair.
I hope this answers the questions of when and how to wash. It’s important to how and when to wash your hair. It know for some of you it’s an event, so make sure you are doing it right.