• 03/13/2024

How Often Should You Wash Your Hair? Scalp Tips for 2024

A woman washing her hair.

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One of the most pressing questions in scalp health is how often to wash your hair. The reason you’ll hear different responses from hair experts is that there’s no definitive answer to this concern. Depending on your age, ethnicity, hair situation and other factors, you may or may not require daily hair washing. Find out what affects the frequency of hair cleansing and the ideal number of times to shampoo your hair. 

Factors Affecting the Frequency of Hair Washing

Just like how fingerprints are unique for each person, so is the hair situation. Here are seven factors affecting hair health and its requirement for a wash.

1. Oil 

An oily scalp leaves your hair clumpy, greasy and feeling dirty. The scalp has sebaceous glands responsible for producing oil through the hair follicles. Naturally, this oil is beneficial as it nourishes and moisturizes the scalp and locks, promoting healthier, shinier hair. But akin to your face, too much oiliness can cause itching and hair problems. 

If your scalp produces too much oil, you may need to shampoo your hair more frequently. Otherwise, a longer interval between washing may be OK. 

2. Sweat

Another factor is the sweat. If you work out regularly, oil can build up on your crown, requiring frequent washing. Perspiration can result in smelly and clumpy hair. It also clogs your scalp pores and potentially causes breakouts. Daily washing is advisable for people who sweat a lot to maintain the health of their scalp.

3. Type of Hair

Between curly and straight hair, the latter needs more washing. Scalp oil can easily coat thin and straight hair strands so they get greasy and dirty quickly. Meanwhile, curly, thick hair — like African-American locks — is on the dry side and doesn’t promptly get soaked in oil. Frequent washing may not be necessary. 

4. Dirt

Dirt, dust, and other fine particles can get trapped in the shafts, making your hair look dirty. These pollutants can cause a dry, itchy scalp, making you uncomfortable. 

5. Styling Products

If you use hair sprays, gels or creams daily, washing your hair routinely can save your scalp from hair damage and irritation. Think of these products as makeup —  sleeping with them on can irritate your crown and cause problems. 

6. Scalp Condition

If you have a grimy and dandruff-prone scalp, you must shampoo more to remove the dead skin cells that the fungi and yeast feed on. If it’s otherwise, you can wash your hair in intervals.

7. Location

A humid area can trigger excessive sweat, so daily washing is a must. If you live in warmer locations, clean your hair regularly.

How Many Times a Week Should I Wash My Hair?

There’s no ideal frequency of hair washing as each individual has unique scalp characteristics, lifestyle and biological makeup. Some people have active sebaceous glands that constantly produce oil, while others have drier scalps. The number of times you should wash your hair weekly depends on these circumstances. Some people may also choose to shampoo only when they experience signs of dirt, like flakes and itchiness.

It may be OK for someone with a generally fine scalp to wash their hair every two to three days or every other day. According to hair experts, daily shampoo is necessary for those with very fine hair that gets grimy quickly or if you exercise excessively and live in hot areas. 

One study found that Asian’s scalp and hair health was in the best condition after washing five to six times a week. Frequent washing is more beneficial if you live in Asia, which naturally has hot weather. 

When Do You Over-Wash Your Hair

Since there’s no definite baseline for hair washing, people may settle for daily shampooing and unknowingly make the mistake of overwashing. Here are signs you may be giving your scalp unwanted attention. 

1. Your Hair Is Rough to the Touch

Frequent washing can take away the shine and natural texture of your hair. When it feels rough against your palms, you may need to reduce your washing frequency. 

2. Your Hair and Scalp Are Dry

Washing daily strips off your scalp and hair of their natural oils, resulting in dryness. If your hair is frizzy, clean your scalp every other day and observe the effect. 

3. Your Hair Becomes Brittle

Dry hair strands are prone to breakage. If you see uneven hair lengths stuck on the comb or hair brush, it’s a sign you’re overwashing. 

4. You See Split Ends

Dry hair is one of the reasons for split ends. If they start coming into your view, it could be a sign you’re scrubbing your scalp to the point of damage. 

5. You Have Dandruff

You’ll see flakes when your hair is extremely dry. 

When Do You Under-Wash Your Hair

Underwashing and depriving your hair health with love and attention will also have detrimental effects. Here are some indications you need to up your hair-cleansing routine. 

1. You Get Dandruff

Besides dry hair, not washing your hair for a long time can lead to an accumulated fungus — called Malassezia — on your scalp. It feeds on the saturated fatty acids in the sebum, which later causes flakes to shed. 

2. You Have Greasy Hair

While your beautiful mane needs sebum for nourishment and structure, excess oil can be a problem as it can give it a slimy, unkempt look. 

3. You’re Losing Hair

Not washing your hair enough can cause hair loss. While it’s normal to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day, consult a dermatologist if you notice extreme hair loss to find out the root cause.

4. You Have Clogged Hair Follicles

Sweat and dirt buildup can block, irritate and inflame hair follicles. If you notice some red or white bumps with pus, it’s a sign you must wash your hair more frequently.

5. You See Ingrown Hairs

While it’s more common in legs due to shaving, ingrown hairs can also grow on your head if you don’t wash your hair for a long time. Accumulated dirt can block the top skin layer, redirecting the growth pattern of the hair back into the skin.

Both over-washing and under-washing your hair can result in problems. Since you know your scalp situation better, be mindful whenever your hair needs a refreshing wash.

Finding the Balance of Washing for Optimal Scalp Health

You can always do a personal experiment to find the appropriate frequency of hair washing that’s good for your scalp. Otherwise, consult a dermatologist for an expert’s advice. Generally, washing the scalp every other day or two to three times a week is OK, but it still depends on your circumstances. 

If you’re working out daily, a similar frequency of scalp washing is necessary. If you have dry hair, washing weekly may make more sense. Use your own judgment to determine how many times a week you should clean your scalp.

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