There's a lot of debate and misinformation out there about how often you should be washing your hair. We all know that person who says that they "have to" wash their hair everyday or else it gets too greasy. And on the other end of the spectrum, we all have a friend who washes only once every 10 days. So what's the deal with all the controversy? And how often should you really wash your hair?
First, a little background info on shampoos & hair cleansers. Most conventional shampoo products contain multiple strong surfactants, or cleaning agents. Sulfates are a class of surfactant that are high in suds and very commonly used in shampoos, and although they can provide a deep clean, they are actually quite harsh. Sulfates and other strong surfactants tend to strip the scalp of all its natural oils. In order to have a healthy scalp and healthy locks, you need the presence of some natural oils. It is possible to clean your scalp of excess oils without stripping them entirely, and it involves sulfate-free, low to no-suds cleansing products like our Oat & Aloe Hair Cleansers for Curly & Straight Hair.
Why the different formulas for curly vs. straight, you ask? Great question. First of all, curly hair tends to be drier, and the natural oils that are produced on the scalp move much more slowly down the hair cuticle with curly hair than with straight hair - the texture of curl patterns serve as a natural impediment to the oil working its way down the hair shaft. Based on the anatomy & physiology of different hair textures and types, here's what you need to know about wash recommendations & our cleanser formulas:
- Curly hair is best washed with a sulfate-free, low-suds cleanser 1-2X per week, never consecutively. Between wash days, curls can be wet, conditioned, and rinsed OR left dry and restyled. Natural dry shampoos like these are also an option.
- Curly formulas: more oat water than aloe vera & slightly lower concentration of gentle surfactants. Oat water, because of its protein and fat content, is more hydrating than aloe, and extra moisture is necessary for curly hair which is naturally more prone to dryness and frizz.
- Straight hair is best washed with a sulfate-free, low-suds cleanser 2-3X per week, never consecutively. Between wash days, hair can be wet and rinsed (can condition if hair is dry) OR left dry and restyled. Natural dry shampoos like these are also an option.
- Straight formulas: more aloe vera than oat water & slightly higher concentration of gentle surfactants. Aloe vera is hydrating but not as heavy as oat water, allowing for hydrated hair without weighing it down.
You might have just had a little bit of a 😬 moment reading those guidelines. The good news is, even if you're washing your hair more often now, you can slowly transition to less frequent washing! Basically, if you're washing your hair more often than the guidelines above, your scalp is likely overproducing oil in order to make up for you stripping your scalp via frequent washing and/or harsh shampoos. In order to transition, you will go through a period where your hair will be oilier than normal, because it will still be accustomed to its previous "set point" while you're washing less. Over time, your hair will lower its oil production "set point" when it adjusts to you no longer stripping away too many oils.
If you're looking to reduce the frequency of your wash days and/or switch to sulfate-free cleansers, check out the steps below and start wherever you are! My biggest tip: be patient.
- If you're using a sudsing shampoo and/or shampoo with sulfates, begin the process by washing every other day.
- If you're used to using a sudsing shampoo and/or shampoo with sulfates, switch to a low to no-suds cleanser and continue washing every other day.
- If you have curly hair and/or you you want to further decrease the frequency of your washes, shift to washing every two days.
During the transition process, I recommend you embrace updos and try out some natural dry shampoos. Be patient, the process can take anywhere from two to six weeks and everyone's process is unique!
Now that we've gone over shampoo, let's talk conditioner. When I first started researching natural hair options, I was inundated by articles and Pins that recommended pure natural oils like coconut, jojoba, and other similar options.
Here's surprise #1:
While in theory that sounds great and easy, when it comes to your hair, oil acts as primarily as an occlusive agent, and secondarily as an emollient (in skincare, oils are primarily emollients and some can be occlusive depending on their comedogenic rating). That means that oils act as a barrier, sealing the hair as is. Pure oils applied to the hair will just make your hair greasy without actually moisturizing.
And surprise #2:
Instead, using a water-soluble conditioner that includes lower concentrations of pure natural oils will properly moisturize the hair and seal it in. It's also nice for a conditioner to have a low to moderate concentration of a gentle, non-sudsing, sulfate-free surfactant - this helps the product detangle the hair and minimizes buildup. Remember that the order that ingredients are listed a label corresponds to their concentration in the formula. You'll notice that the first two ingredients in our Nourishing Curl Conditioner are aloe vera gel and coconut milk, and it also includes water-soluble vegetable glycerin, a moderate amount of decyl glucoside (a gentle cleaning agent), and lower concentrations of coconut oil, castor oil, and safflower oil. In our Spray Leave-in Conditioner, you'll notice the first two ingredients are water and vegetable glycerin, followed by a smaller concentration of safflower oil. Since this product is leave-in it is more lightweight and doesn't include any surfactants.
As always, don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
Until next time,