Like Goldilocks and her bowls of porridge, landing on a hair washing routine that’s ‘just right’ can take a little trial and error. Wash too often and your strands can end up dry, too little and you’ll risk being mistaken for an oil slick…
“Finding the perfect hair wash routine is always challenging as so many factors come into consideration,” agrees Melbourne hairdresser, Sofia Basile. From your hair type and lifestyle to the climate and season, there are a number of things that will impact your shampoo schedule.
Lucky for you, we’ve enlisted Basile’s help to break them all down – and answer the eternal question, “how often should you actually wash your hair?” Read on!
Determine your hair type first
Coarse, thick hair will obviously require less washing than fine, oily-prone strands. It’s therefore important to know your hair type before you get stuck on a washing routine.
“Hair type plays a huge part in determining how often you should wash your hair,” says Basile. To determine thickness, she recommends using the good ol’ strand test.
This is done by grabbing a hair between two fingers and sliding your fingers down your hair shaft. If you can't really feel it, you have FINE HAIR. If you can feel it, you have MEDIUM HAIR. And if you notice it has a rough texture, you have THICK or COARSE hair.
“Once you know this, then you can experiment with the perfect washing routine,” says Basile. However, she does have some general rule-of-thumb washing advice for each hair type.
If you have fine (typically oily-prone) hair…
Fine hair often tends towards the oilier end of the spectrum, so it requires the most regular washing to maintain freshness and bounce. According to Basile, this may involve daily shampooing, particularly if you’re working up a sweat with a daily exercise routine.
Heard the one about over-washing causing the scalp to produce even MORE oil? Don’t fret. You’ll be a-ok as long as you stick with a non-stripping, sulfate-free shampoo.
If you have fine hair, Basile stresses the importance of washing it properly (make sure you’re avoiding these 10 shampoo and conditioner mistakes!), and never skipping the second lather. And if you want to stretch out the time between washes to every second or third day? Basile suggests a “sneaky third wash” and a liberal spritz of dry shampoo after your workout.
The right product choice is also essential, and she advises fine-haired babes steer clear of very heavy moisturising shampoos and apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends only.
If you have damaged, dry or coloured hair…
This one’s more to do with the condition of your hair than its thickness or texture. However, for parched, damaged or ultra-processed, Basile stresses the need to take extra care of your vulnerable strands. “Once a week washing is ideal, or twice a week at the very most,” she says.
Too much washing should be avoided so as not to exacerbate dryness. And it’s important to choose products that will replenish lost moisture and help accelerate repair.
“Hydration and protein are essential for damaged hair,” says Basile. So, make sure you look out for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and pea protein, found in our Like A Virgin range. With ResistHyalTM hyaluronic acid technology, our Super Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner deliver 26 times more hydration, while the pea proteins in the conditioner reduce damage by 65%. Hap-pea days!
If you have thick, coarse or curly hair…
Thicker, coarser or curly hair requires gentle cleansing, once or twice a week. “If you’re washing your hair more often than that, stop,” says Basile. “This kind of hair needs moisture and washing it too often can strip the natural oils that help keep it smooth, shiny and frizz-free.”
Choose hydrating shampoos and conditioners and stick with a single shampoo lather. Or two if you feel it’s essential. Our tip? Really wet hair will help your shampoo lather more effectively, so take a few minutes under the tap to ensure it’s fully drenched before applying shampoo.
If you have a dry, itchy, flaky or oily scalp…
Sometimes the scalp needs a little extra attention, and Basile has some handy advice. “Another trick I like to share with clients that suffer from combination hair with an oily, dry, itching or flaky scalp and dry mid-ends is to start by applying shampoo while hair is dry,” she says.
“Apply to the roots, gently massage and then leave for a few minutes before adding water, rinsing, and doing a regular wet shampoo and condition. This will help remove any flakiness, excess sebum and product build-up.”
Or, for the ultimate scalp-cleansing experience, tackle flakes, impurities, itching and oils with our soothing, peppermint-infused Deep Clean Scalp Scrub!
Other things to consider
It’s not just your hair type and condition that you need to take into consideration, either. “Various lifestyle, hormonal and environmental/climate factors can always play havoc on your hair,” says Basile. For instance, if you live in a super-humid, sweaty climate, you might need to wash your hair more frequently. Similarly, if you smoke or are exposed to a lot of pollution, your hair will be impacted.
“In my experience, the seasons play a huge part,” says Basile. She therefore recommends reassessing your hair and scalp each season for signs you need to switch up your products or routine – just as you would with your skincare.
Advice for all hair types and conditions
“Know that your scalp and hair are constantly changing,” says Basile. So, what works for you one year? It might not work so well the next. It’s important to pay attention to your hair, as it really will tell you what it needs.
“My advice is that it’s not just how often you wash, it’s what you use to wash your hair that matters. Always choose the best quality products you can afford, and steer clear of sulfates, which can be drying and irritating. Instead, stick with gentle cleansers that won’t rob your hair of moisture or weaken your strands.”
Written By: Pip Jarvis
Edited by: Vidhya