Are you washing you hair wrong? (hair salon 10012)


We are well trained to lather, rinse and repeat. But chances are you’re washing your hair far too often.

Instead of the traditional shampoo-and-conditioner routine, many experts say we should be co-washing more — short for conditioner-only washing — embracing a little grease and letting our hair’s natural oils do their job.

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“Your hair needs to produce natural oils,” said Juliette Dallas-Feeney, senior social media manager and beauty influencer at Birchbox, the online beauty subscription service. “If you wash it too much, you can strip your hair of them. And if you don’t wash your hair enough, it can do the same thing because of product buildup. Your scalp can get yucky and gross.”

Ms. Dallas-Feeney, who has short blond hair, has gone 10 days without washing her hair, albeit with some help from dry shampoo. She typically uses shampoo once to twice a week.

“I do a deep clean when I do wash my hair and really massage it into my scalp, and I’m careful not to get the shampoo on my ends,” she said. “Then I rinse it out and apply conditioner from my roots to my tips. When I’m shampooing, I’m just focused on scalp cleaning.”

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Not everyone can cut back so thoroughly. Training your hair to need less frequent washing depends on the texture of your hair. For women with thinner hair or those who work out regularly, Ms. Dallas-Feeney said, “dry shampoo is your best friend.”

“It’s a process of transition,” she said and recommended taking it one day at a time. “It’s going to feel weird at first.”

We consulted some hair pros for further hair-washing intel.

Shampoo less, condition moreNoho  10-26-2016

Jeff Chastain, a hairstylist in New York City, recommends that women get their shampooing down to once or twice a week. Less washing, he said, means stronger and longer hair.

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And women with curls need not wash their hair as often as others.

“I tell people with curly hair to use conditioner only, give it a good scrub on the head and then pull the conditioner through to the ends and rinse it out,” Mr. Chastain said.

Straight hair tends to get greasier more quickly because the oils can travel more quickly down the hair, Mr. Chastain said. If you can stand it, he said, try wetting your hair only every other day and use a dry shampoo.

On Day 2 or 3 of no washing, Mr. Chastain suggests pulling your hair back into a ponytail or other updo.

“Use hair spray to work with the shine you’re getting from the grease,” he said. “Work with it, not against it. Sleek it back using just a little bit of serum or hair spray and rock an updo for a day or two.”

Men can cut back too

Mr. Chastain tells men to use shampoo only once a week and to scrub their hair with conditioner on the other days. The conditioner has mild cleansing properties that help remove buildup with minimal damage to hair, he said.

“Guys want touchable hair,” he said. “They don’t want it to look like there’s anything in there.” The shampoo-conditioner regimen he suggests won’t take out the oil, so the hair isn’t puffy and unmanageable. Shampooing without conditioner isn’t ideal, he said, because it leaves the hair “really dry and really big.”

For natural black hair

Nikki Walton, founder of, a natural-hair blog for black women and author of “Better Than Good Hair: The Curly Girl Guide to Healthy, Gorgeous Natural Hair!” (Amistad), has highly textured hair with corkscrew curls throughout. She washes her hair every two weeks with conditioner and once a month with a clarifying shampoo.

“Your hair is like a fine sweater,” she said. “The more you wash it, the more it wears and tears. Your individual hair strands swell and contract, so you’re damaging your hair every time you wet it. You can’t avoid that.”

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Black women with looser curls can wash their hair a couple of times a week with just a conditioner or milder shampoo, Ms. Walton said.

“Curly girls will opt to just co-wash and shampoo once every few weeks or once a month,” she said. “Many curly girls stay clear of shampoo as much as possible because dry equals more frizz.”

Ms. Walton recommends using a color applicator bottle and diluting shampoo with warm water. That way it can be directly applied to the scalp. Massage with your finger pads because, she said, “you don’t want to scratch it.”

The anti-shampoo campaign

It’s perhaps counterintuitive that Michael Gordon, the founder and former president of Bumble and bumble, would call himself Mr. Anti-Shampoo. But Mr. Gordon now leads the creative studio Hairstory, where he introduced a line of detergent-free hair products that allow for less washing.

“It used to be that Americans, among other people, washed their hair a lot,” he said. But overwashing can backfire.

“If you wash your hair with detergent, it encourages your hair to get greasy, and then you have to wash it again,” Mr. Gordon said. “If you don’t bombard it with detergent in the first place, you’re fine. After three weeks or so of not washing your hair every three or four days, you won’t have to wash so often.”

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The history of hair-washing, he said, has taken many twists and turns. A hundred years ago, washing was typically a weekly experience. By the 1960s, Mr. Gordon noted, many women didn’t do their hair themselves but had it “done” and preserved. Only in recent years was washing every day thought to be the thing to do.

“I certainly did it for a long time,” he said. “Things change.”

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And younger people are turning on to the anti-shampoo movement.

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“The less they have to do, the better they like it, and I think they get the sustainability aspect of that,” Mr. Gordon said. “If we don’t have to wash our hair every day, then we’re wasting less water.”

(hair salon 10012)

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