It's all based on the texture of your tresses and your lifestyle.

By Melanie Rud
Updated May 28, 2020
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One of the most highly contested and debated topics in the world of hair care is hair washing frequency. (It's something most women have strong feelings about, regardless of whether they're daily or weekly washers.) But, spoiler alert, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. "There's not necessarily one universal answer to the 'How often should you wash your hair?' question," says Kérastase Consulting Hair Stylist, Mara Roszak. Many things contribute to the desire or need to shampoo, including your hair type and lifestyle factors, such how often you work out, she adds. So rather than give you one easy answer, to get to the root of the matter, we asked top stylists to weigh in on the topic and walk us through the best washing practices for several different conditions. Here's what you need to know before you suds up.

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If Your Hair Is Dry...

It's also likely thicker and coarser. That texture, coupled with the fact that it is drier, means you can go longer without washing; Roszak suggests washing dry hair three times a week. When you do wash, be sure to opt for a hydrating formula, such as Dove Nourishing Rituals Coconut Hydration Shampoo ($5, Target.) Because you are shampooing less frequently, though, Roszak recommends a double shampoo, to ensure a thorough cleanse that will remove dirt, oil, and product buildup.

If Your Hair Is Oily...

Your hair is also likely on the finer side because this texture tends to be more prone to getting oily faster, says San Diego stylist and salon owner Jet Rhys. And, yes, that may mean you need to shampoo every other day or even daily. That's okay, as long as you take the appropriate steps not to damage your hair in the process. First and foremost, be sure to choose a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo (which won't strip your hair or scalp of its natural oils) that's made for oily hair. An excellent option is Kérastase Specifique Shampoo for Oily Scalp ($35, Sephora). In a somewhat cruel and ironic twist, over-shampooing can dry out your scalp, causing it to produce more oil, creating a vicious never-ending cycle. But just as important as which shampoo you use is how you use it. "Make sure you're shampooing your scalp, not your hair," says Rhys. Rather than merely scrunching it into your hair, use your fingertips to massage it into your scalp, and work in circular motions. This is the best way to ensure the shampoo is getting to where it needs to go and can best remove any excess oil, not to mention other gunk and grime. And don't worry, as you rinse the suds, the shampoo will get through the lengths and ends of your hair, too.

If You Work Out Frequently...

We get it. An intense sweat session is enough to make anyone want to wash their hair. If you're working out daily (good for you!) and want to wash your hair daily too, follow the same advice as for oily hair. But, extra sweat doesn't necessarily have to mean additional washes. You might be able to go an extra day in between washes with the help of a dry shampoo, such as Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo ($36, Ulta). Rather than just using it after your workout, try applying it before you exercise, focusing specifically on the roots. It will absorb the sweat as it crops up, keeping your hair from ending up a damp mess. Use more dry shampoo after your workout, and you might just be able to skip a wash and extend your hair's style.

If Your Hair Is Color-Treated...

Breaking news: Water is your hair color's number one worst enemy. Specifically hot water, which opens the hair cuticle, the outermost layer of the hair, and allows the color molecules to slip right out. So, the less you wash your hair, the better you'll be able to protect your color, and the longer it will last, says Rhys. When you do wash, be sure to pick a color-protectant shampoo and conditioner specifically made for color-treated hair. We like Bumble & bumble's Gentle Shampoo ($27, Sephora) and the Gentle Conditioner ($29, Sephora). Another helpful trick? Dampen your hair with a leave-in conditioner before hopping in the shower. Coating your hair keeps it from absorbing as much water, minimizing the color-fading effects (though don't worry, you'll still be able to get your hair clean). You can use any leave-in conditioner, though we're big fans of the Aquis Water Defense PreWash ($29 Sephora), which is specially formulated for this purpose and also helps minimize damage and frizz. Try this leave-in conditioner technique not only before you wash your hair but also before you hit the pool or ocean to safeguard your hue from the color-stripping chlorine and saltwater.

Washing hair too frequently can strip it of natural oils (and color, if you dye your hair), but how often you suds up depends on your natural hair type, how often you break a sweat, and your styling preferences. Thanks to products like dry shampoo, your second-day 'do can look just as gorgeous as it does on day one.


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