When it comes to looking after your hair, there’s the million-dollar question - how often should you wash it? And annoyingly, there’s no one fixed answer - everyone has different hair, and everyone leads very different lifestyles - these factors affect your hair care routine.
Once you’ve found the best shampoo for your hair type and needs, knowing when to wash it and how to care for it in between washes is essential for maintaining the healthiest, lushest and shiniest locks. At The Recommended, we’ve done our research and spoken to some top haircare experts to get the low-down on how often you should really wash your hair, whether thick, fine, curly, straight, greasy or dry.
We’ve looked into the different factors which influence the frequency of how often you wash your hair, from hair type to lifestyle, and will provide you with helpful tips on how to take the best care of your locks. Read on to arm yourself with everything you need to know about washing your hair.
Our hair experts
Luke Benson is a celebrity hairdresser with more than 20 years of experience. His famous A-list clients include Billie Eilish, Michelle Keegan and Anna Friel, and he has worked with top brands, including Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury and Hugo Boss. Luke has also given us his expert advice on how to wash your hair properly, how to give yourself a salon-quality blowout at home, and how to blow dry your hair straight. Plus, he’s lent expert recommendations on the best shampoo for coloured hair, the best shampoo for greasy hair, and the best shampoo for men.
David Felstead is a professional hair stylist with more than 40 years of experience in the industry. He works at the renowned hairdresser Daniel Galvin and has a high calibre list of celebrity clients.
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Gustav Fouche is a celebrity hairstylist and one of London’s premier salon owners. He has worked with VIP clients, including Kate Hudson, Gal Gadot and designer Oscar De La Renta and has styled many red-carpet events, TV commercials and editorial shoots.
How often should you wash your hair?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to washing your hair, from the types of shampoo you use to the frequency you wash it. Generally, it is recommended to wash your hair several times a week (about two to three times), but this can depend on several factors.
Our hair expert Luke suggests washing your hair ‘every three days or so unless you’ve been sweating, swimming or exposure to pollution (so maybe if you live in central London you’ll want to do it a bit sooner)’.
Luke also points out that there are a number of factors which can influence the rate at which you wash it. This includes hair type, style, environment and lifestyle. We’ve had a look into these and compiled this guide on how often you should wash your hair according to these different factors…
Different hair types can require different amounts of washing - we’ve included some of them below:
- Fine hair: Often thinner, finer hair can get greasier faster due to the smaller sized hair follicles, therefore requiring more frequent washing. People with this type of hair should aim to wash it every other day, ensuring not to overwash it, as this can cause it to become dry and more brittle.
- Thick hair: Due to its fuller volume, thick hair can be washed less frequently, perhaps once or twice a week, as it can hold on to moisture longer. Washing it too often can strip it from its natural oils, causing hair to become dry and vulnerable to breakage.
- Dry hair: Dry hair should be washed less frequently to prevent the natural oils produced in the scalp from being stripped and maintaining moisture. Opt for once or twice a week. Luke comments that ‘curls tend to go longer between washing as they’re naturally drier, and start to look better as the days progress and the scalp produces more natural oil.’ Check out our guide on the best shampoos for dry hair to kick-start your hair washing.
- Oily hair: Oil-prone hair may need washing more regularly to prevent it from looking greasy. It may require everyday washing, although over-washing can lead to increased oil production in the long run. We’ve got more on this type of hair in our round-up of the best shampoos for greasy hair.
- Coloured hair: Colour-treated hair is generally more sensitive, so it shouldn’t be overwashed - this can also cause the colour to fade. Aim for every two to three days for fine to normal hair that has been colour-treated and every four to five days for thicker-coloured hair to preserve its vibrancy. Read up on looking after colour-treated hair with our guide on the best shampoos for coloured hair.
- Activity: How active you are can influence how often you wash your hair. Frequent exercise can lead to increased sweat production, causing hair to become greasy. Washing hair after exercise is important to cleanse and exfoliate the scalp and remove dirt or debris that builds up during your workout.
- Diet: Your diet and hydration can affect your hair’s condition, which will, in turn, determine how often you wash your hair. For instance, a lack of iron, vitamin D or zinc can cause hair to become dry and brittle - this means hair should be washed less frequently to retain moisture for longer.
- Styling products: Using different serums and oils to style your hair can influence how often you wash it - you may need to wash hair more frequently to prevent a build-up of products if you use them on a regular basis.
Environmental factors can influence how often you wash your hair, for example, the climate and temperature. Humid conditions can cause hair to become frizzy and dry out, needing less frequent washing, while hot weather can increase sweat production, requiring regular hair washing to prevent dirt and oil buildup.
How often should you use a conditioner?
The first step in washing your hair involves using a good shampoo to cleanse, nourish and hydrate your scalp and locks. The second step is conditioning it to soften, strengthen and add some extra glossiness with the best conditioner for your hair.
Our hair expert David recommends always using a conditioner each time you wash your hair. He advises combing it through your hair to ‘close cuticles and kill static’, but don’t use too much. He explains that ‘too much product can irritate your scalp by drying it out.’
The amount of conditioner you use and the frequency can also depend on your hair type. For fine hair, using conditioner every time you wash your hair will help add volume to fine hair and prevent it from tangling.
Thick hair may not need conditioning every time you wash your hair as it could weigh down your already volumised hair. Aim for using every other wash. For those with oily hair, David suggests only applying conditioner to mid-lengths and the ends of your hair.
Tips for maintaining healthy hair in between washes
Looking after your hair in between washes is important in order to maintain your hair’s health and achieve salon-finished results. Here are a few tips on what to do in between washes to keep hair in optimum condition - silky soft and shiny at all times:
- Limit the use of hot tools: Don’t overuse hot styling tools such as hair dryers and straighteners - these can cause damage to your hair, taking away moisture and drying it out. When you do use them, ensure you use them in conjunction with heat protection sprays and creams.
- Use dry shampoo: Hair looking a bit lifeless but short on time? Spray some dry shampoo into your hair to bring some life into your locks when you need a quick refresh and are limited on time. Apply to roots to absorb excess oil and freshen up your locks. It’s important to use dry shampoo sparingly and only when needed.
- Use a hair mask: Apply a hair mask once a week to deeply nourish and moisturise your scalp and hair.
- Use a scalp scrub: Use once or twice a week to remove build-up and refresh your scalp.
What happens if you don’t wash your hair?
While washing your hair may seem a chore at times, and dry shampoo may seem an easier and faster quick fix, shampooing and conditioning your hair is essential in order to keep your hair in its best condition. If you don’t wash your hair regularly, it can lead to several issues, such as excess oil and build-up, causing hair to become dirty and greasy, and also lead to dandruff and scalp irritation.
If you want to level up your hair care routine, check out our guide on how to wash your hair properly, with more tips from our expert hair stylists.
Is it bad to wash your hair every day?
Washing your hair every day is not typically advised. Too much washing can strip your scalp and hair of its natural oils, which can result in dry, sensitive hair susceptible to breakage and irritation. However, if you are highly active, sweat a lot or are prone to greasy hair, washing your hair on a daily basis may be necessary - in this case, ensure you use a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo.
Our hair expert Gustav stresses the importance of using the correct product for your hair if you are washing it daily but to ‘absolutely avoid silicone and avoid using daily heat on the hair’.
Is dry shampoo good for your hair?
Dry shampoo can be a total lifesaver - whether you're tight on time, on the move, or in need of a quick glam-up. But it’s best to be used in moderation. Gustav explains that whilst dry shampoo is not directory bad for your hair, it can be bad for your scalp - ‘it can dehydrate the skin that can cause other side effects.’
Too much dry shampoo usage can sometimes lead to weaker hair and irritation, and it can clog up hair follicles in your scalp, creating build-up and causing it to become sore. The alcohol content can also dry out your hair, making it more sensitive and prone to breakage.
If using dry shampoo, follow these tips for a safe experience:
- Limit the usage: Only use dry shampoo when necessary.
- Apply as directed: Shake before using, hold at least six inches away from your head and spray onto the roots. Let it settle for a few minutes before brushing it through the hair.
- Choose a high-quality dry shampoo: Look for dry shampoos which contain natural ingredients and are free of harmful chemicals.
Want to read more expert-recommended round-ups and product guides? Check out our Haircare and Cosmetics pages, where you’ll find more hair and beauty guides with tips from experts, including the best shampoos, the best conditioners, and the best hair dryers.
Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.