Squeeze the shampoo bottle, lather into your locks, rinse thoroughly, and repeat with conditioner. Washing your hair is a simple enough task in your weekly routine, and for many doesn’t require much thought. But there is a proper way to do it in order to achieve salon-looking results.


At The Recommended, we’ve put together a super handy guide on how to wash your hair the right way to give your locks the best results - a clean and silky smooth salon-looking finish. We’ve included a step-by-step guide on how to wash your hair and provided tips on how much shampoo and conditioner to use, how to apply it and how often to wash your hair.

Read on for the ultimate haircare guide, with expert advice and top tips included from two renowned hair stylists.

Our haircare experts

David Felstead, Luke Benson
Our expert hair stylists, David Felstead and Luke Benson

Luke Benson is a celebrity hairdresser with more than 20 years of experience. His famous A-list clients include Billie Eilish, Liam Payne, Michelle Keegan, Anna Friel, and Roman Kemp. He has styled iconic hair moments at big events such as the BRITS and Bond premiere, as well as being a top stylist for brands including Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury and Hugo Boss. He has won awards for his cutting, styling and grooming talent, such as the Session Stylist of The Year Finalist for the 2022 Fellowship for British Hairdressing Awards.

David Felstead is the resident Trichologist and long-standing stylist at the renowned hairdresser Daniel Galvin. He has more than 40 years of experience in the hairdressing industry and has worked with Daniel Galvin for over 25 years. David heads up the Hair and Scalp Clinic and is in high demand with his A-list clientele.

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Woman washing her hair in shower

How to wash your hair properly: Is there a right way to wash your hair?

Washing your hair may come second nature to you, but washing your hair properly may be something to read up on. Here we’ve provided a step-by-step guide on how to get the most out of your hair washing:

Washing your hair: a step-by-step guide

Follow these steps, with top tips from hair expert Luke Benson, for the most efficient and effective hair wash:

  • Pre-washing: Prep your hair so it is ready to wash. Brush through to remove any knots or tangles - this will prevent hair breakage while washing.
  • Set the temperature: Use lukewarm water throughout for optimum results - too hot and your hair can be stripped from its natural oils. Start by getting your hair damp before shampooing - Luke stresses the importance of ensuring your hair is thoroughly wet beforehand. He comments that ‘many people start using shampoo and don’t get the foam they need to clean their hair and this is because the hair isn’t wet evenly so the product can’t activate’.
  • Shampooing: Squeeze a small blob of shampoo into your palm (about the size of a 10p coin) and distribute it into both hands. Lather this into your hair and ‘in a smoothing motion run the product from root to tip on the top of the head and then underneath’, advises Luke. This ensures the shampoo is ‘spread evenly’. Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of the shampoo. If you're looking for a new shampoo, check out our expert-recommended guide to the best shampoos for all hair types.
  • Conditioning: Apply a small amount of conditioner (again, about the size of a 10p coin) to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. Avoid applying it to your scalp and roots, as this will cause greasiness. Leave the conditioner for a couple of minutes to allow it to fully hydrate and condition your hair. Rinse thoroughly with cool water to lock in the moisture. If you're new to the world of conditioning or are just looking for a new conditioner, check out our expert recommendations of the best conditioners.
  • Drying: Gently squeeze out excess water from your hair and wrap it in a towel to absorb the moisture. Don’t over-rub or wring your hair, as this can lead to frizz and breakage. If you have long hair and want to achieve salon-quality results, check out our guide to on how to give yourself an expert blow out at home, with tips from top hair stylists.
  • Post-washing: Apply any leave-in or styling products while the hair is still damp. Allow your hair to air dry as much as possible to minimise heat exposure.

The best hair products to use

Using the right hair products to assist your perfect hair wash is essential. Here are some top tips on choosing the right shampoo, conditioner and other hair products:

  • Shampoo: Pick a shampoo that matches your hair type, for example, oily or dry, and make sure to avoid ones with harmful ingredients such as sulphates which can cause irritation or dryness. See our guides to the best shampoos to find the perfect one for you.
  • Conditioner: Choose a conditioner specifically formulated for your hair type, whether volumising, hydrating or moisturising. Again, watch out for any damaging ingredients. See our guide to the best conditioners to find the best one for your hair type.
  • Styling products: Use styling products such as serums and mousses to address your specific hair care needs (e.g. frizz control and heat protection).
  • Other hair products: For additional nourishment to your hair, consider using a deep conditioning treatment once a week, such as a mask or cream, and a scalp exfoliator to maintain a healthy scalp.
Woman looking in mirror at wet hair

Why does washing your hair properly matter?

Looking after your hair is highly important in order to keep your locks healthy and looking smooth and shiny. Here are just a few reasons why washing your hair properly really matters:

  • It removes build-up: Regular hair washing removes dirt, sweat, excess oil and product build-up. Without this, hair follicles can clog up and cause issues in the scalp, as well as leading to limp, greasy-looking hair.
  • It keeps your scalp and hair healthy: A good hair wash will exfoliate and deeply cleanse the scalp and hair strands, encouraging it to remain healthy, promoting a healthy shine, and reducing risks of dandruff, dryness and itchiness.
  • It stimulates hair growth: Looking after your hair and cleaning it regularly provides optimum conditions for strong and nourished hair follicles, which will encourage growth.
  • It improves the look of hair: Freshly washed hair will look and feel healthy, with a natural shine and softness. It also is easier to style and will hold hairstyles more effectively.

How much shampoo should you use, and how to apply it properly?

Using the right amount of shampoo is fundamental to ensure a thorough hair wash. As a general guideline, start with a coin-sized blob of shampoo - you can always add more if required, for instance, if you have longer or thicker hair.

When it comes to applying shampoo, make sure you start with wet hair and apply it evenly to your palms. Using your fingertips, massage it gently into your roots, using circular motions to stimulate the scalp. Work it down through your hair to the ends before rinsing thoroughly - make sure all the shampoo is washed out to avoid leftover residue.

How much conditioner should you use, and how to apply it properly?

Conditioner is also a key component in the hair-washing process, providing a smooth finish. Depending on hair length and thickness, you should aim for approximately a 10p coin size worth of conditioner and can adjust the quantity if needed.

Once shampooed, make sure to squeeze out any excess water from your hair before applying the conditioner. Lather into the mid-lengths and ends of your hair using your fingertips, avoiding the roots, as this will cause hair to appear greasy. Leave the conditioner in for a couple of minutes for optimum hydration and nourishment for your hair. Finally, rinse thoroughly to remove the conditioner, ensuring no residue is left behind.

Our hair expert David Felstead recommends always using a conditioner and combing it through your hair in the shower - ‘this prepares your hair by closing cuticles and killing static.’ He emphasises not using too much through and ‘if your hair is oily, only apply to mid-lengths and ends’.

Woman drying her hair with towel

Post-washing: How to towel dry your hair after washing it without causing damage?

Once you’ve washed your hair, towel drying is the next step. It can help speed up the drying process as well as helping to minimise damage. Here are a few tips for an effective post-wash drying process:

  • Avoid rubbing: It’s best to squeeze excess water from your hair rather than aggressively rubbing with your towel, as this can lead to frizz and breakage. Our expert David Felstead suggests blotting it gently with a towel, ‘starting at the very ends and working up to your roots.’
  • Use a soft towel: A soft towel can make all the difference to your hair-washing routine. This will be more gentle on the hair and help absorb moisture. Avoid wrapping your hair too tight in the towel, as this can lead to tension on the scalp and hair breakage. Looking for some new towels? Check out our recommendations for the best towels you can buy online.
  • Air dry when possible: Letting your hair dry naturally is the best option for your hair. If you do need to use a hair dryer, use it on a low heat and apply heat protection spray or serum beforehand for extra protection.

How often should you wash your hair?

The number of times a week you wash your hair depends on several factors, including hair type, environmental factors, lifestyle and personal preference. Here’s some general guidance according to these various factors:

  • Hair type: Normal hair should be washed every two to three days. Oily hair will need to be washed more frequently, perhaps every day or every other day, and dry or coloured hair requires less frequent washing to retain natural oils and restore vibrancy in colour and texture - aim for every three to four days.
  • Environmental factors: The weather and climate can affect how often you wash your hair. For example, in hotter, humid conditions, hair will need to be washed more frequently to regain its moisture.
  • Lifestyle: Activity levels can influence how often you wash your hair. The more intense physical activity you do, the sweatier you will get, requiring a deep hair wash. Diet can also play a part in your hair-washing frequency, as well as hydration.

For a full rundown, check out our full guide on how often you should wash your hair, with more tips from our expert hair stylists.

Man washing hair in shower

Common mistakes to avoid when washing your hair

In order to get the most out of washing your hair and maintain healthy hair, make sure to avoid the following common mistakes:

  • Overwashing: Washing your hair too much can strip away natural oils, causing your hair to become dull and dry. How often you wash your wash depends on several factors, including your hair type and lifestyle - wash accordingly and stick to a routine.
  • Water temperature: Lukewarm water is best for washing your hair in order to maintain moisture and prevent dryness. Water that is too hot can dehydrate your scalp and hair.
  • Excessive heat: Be mindful of using hair tools such as hair dryers and straighteners post washing your hair - excessive heat can cause dryness and make hair more fragile. Minimise how often you use these accessories, and always use heat-protectant products.
  • Don’t be too rough: Our expert Luke Benson advises to avoid applying your shampoo and conditioner too aggressively - ‘hair is much more delicate when wet and many people tear at the hair when washing.’ He recommends circular movements to help reduce damage and make the hair less knotty’. This will also avoid an irritated scalp and damaged hair follicles. Instead, lather it in gently with your fingertips.
  • Conditioner: Unlike shampoo, don’t apply conditioner to your roots - this will cause your hair to become greasy. Focus on the mid-lengths and ends to restore moisture and softness to your hair.
  • Don’t go to bed with wet hair: Luke also recommends that you ‘don’t go to bed with wet hair (not even if you sleep on a towel)’. Sleeping on wet hair can cause damage to the hair follicles, causing split ends, tangles and breakages. Avoid where possible, and Luke advises that ‘if you do need to sleep with damp hair, plait it if you can using a silk hair band’. To take your overnight haircare routine to the next level, why not invest in a silk or satin pillowcase to protect your hair while you sleep?

Want to read more about haircare and see some more expert-led reviews and guides? Check out The Recommended's cosmetics section. Here you'll find round-ups of the best shampoos for all hair types, the best conditioners recommended by hair experts, and the best hairdyers.


Cordelia AspinallDigital Writer

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.