There are real­ly no hard and fast rules when it comes to wash­ing hair. The  prin­ci­ple pur­pose of wash­ing hair is to get rid of excess oil and the dirt that  binds to it. A sec­ond rea­son for wash­ing hair is as part of a styling rou­tine. With this in mind, the gen­er­al guide is wash your hair when you need to!

Daily / Every 2–3 Days

This suits a vari­ety of groups includ­ing,
-very short hair (under 4 inch­es)
-dai­ly exer­cis­ers or jobs involv­ing a lot of phys­i­cal activity/dirt
-oily hair (any length)
-for med­ical rea­sons (for exam­ple dan­druff man­age­ment)

Why: Dai­ly wash­ing can be very tax­ing to hair which is not oily. Oil plays a role in pro­tect­ing hair from dam­age as well as pro­tect­ing it from mois­ture loss. Dai­ly
wash­ing can deplete this oil and addi­tion­al­ly many sham­poos and soaps can irri­tate the skin on the scalp. There­fore dai­ly wash­ing is suit­ed gen­er­al­ly to oily hair as  well as short hair where oil can be dis­trib­ut­ed eas­i­ly to the full length of hair. Dai­ly exer­cis­ers can sim­ply rin­se their hair well with water to rid it of sweat but if a full wash is pre­ferred, this is per­fect­ly fine. Swim­mers should ide­al­ly wash hair after swim­ming in chlo­ri­nat­ed water.

Pre­cau­tions : Con­sid­er alter­nat­ing sham­poo with co-wash­ing for hair that is not par­tic­u­lar­ly oily. For those with longer hair, con­sid­er pro­tec­tive styles or braiding/twisting free hair dur­ing the wash as well as dur­ing exer­cise to reduce the sweat con­tact.

Weekly

This is one of the most pop­u­lar wash­ing fre­quen­cies for curly hair. It gen­er­al­ly fits in with the time point when hair starts to real­ly feel dry and it is also con­ve­nient for most jobs (i.e the week­end = more time).

Why: Gen­er­al­ly curly hair does not tend to get oily (there are excep­tions!), as a result less oil means less dirt attract­ed to the hair and there­fore less need to wash hair.

Pre­cau­tions : For those who choose to co-wash, alter­nate with an occa­sion­al sham­poo wash to avoid build up. For peo­ple who are exer­cis­ing fre­quent­ly, again you can choose to just rin­se your hair to rid it of sweat and stick to a week­ly sham­poo and con­di­tion.

Fortnightly/ Every 3–4 weeks

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly suit­ed to
— medi­um length to long hair (9 inch­es plus)
— hair that is not oily (any length)

Why: Some peo­ple think that it is unhy­gien­ic not to wash hair at least once a week but in truth the fre­quen­cy of wash­ing should real­ly be deter­mined by how much oil/dirt your hair accu­mu­lates. The rea­son why long hair can be washed less often lies in the fact that sebum pro­duced at the root can take a while to trav­el down the full shaft of the hair. As long as the hair has less oil, it also has less dirt (which attach­es itself to oil). If you live in a fair­ly clean town/city, the chances are you may be able to wash your hair much less .

Pre­cau­tions: Don’t ignore your hair if you feel that it is dry, there is no rea­son why you should not wet your hair as often as you like even if you are wait­ing  two weeks or longer between wash­es. Addi­tion­al­ly if hair requires extra soft­ness, opt­ing to co-wash in between is per­fect­ly fine.

How fre­quent­ly do you wash?

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92 Comments on "How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?"

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mangomadness

I wash (hot oil treatment/detangle, sham­poo, mois­tur­ize and style) my hair every week (5–7 days). 

My hair is super coily, fine strand diam­e­ter, dense, nor­mal poros­i­ty and almost APL.

Beauty Is Diverse

I wash my hair every oth­er week.

honeybrown1976

I sham­poo fort­night­ly. I cow­ash once a week and dc once a week. My hair’s doing just fine.

June
’ con­sid­er pro­tec­tive styles or braiding/twisting free hair dur­ing the wash as well as dur­ing exer­cise to reduce the sweat con­tact.’ This phrase rep­re­sents some of the issues I have with “advice” we nat­u­rals are given. I think because no one real­ly stud­ies black hair, peo­ple just make up stuff and present it as fact. I don’t know about any­one else, but braid­ing or twist­ing my hair before exer­cis­ing just makes it eas­ier for the sweat to trav­el down my strands as opposed to stay­ing at/around the roots when I don’t braid or twist it.  More­over, isn’t it equal­ly, or more… Read more »
The Natural Haven
The pur­pose of sweat is to cool your body down and hav­ing it soak­ing in your hair is not a nice feel­ing for most people…of course if you like it, that is fine too. Putting your hair in some sort of updo allows the sweat to drip off your face and neck. There­fore even when you are wear­ing your hair free, quick­ly twist­ing or braid­ing and pulling the­se into an updo is a great way to do this.  Hav­ing your hair in twists or braids does not pre­vent you from sub­se­quent­ly clean­ing your scalp. Plen­ty of nat­u­rals wash hair in twists and… Read more »
June

I think you mis­read my com­ment. I don’t want the sweat soak­ing in my hair or on my scalp, which is why I wash/rinse it out reg­u­lar­ly. Not every­one with >7 inch­es of hair can braid or twist it into an updo; some of us have very dense hair.

When you say wash in twist or braids, do you mean with­out unrav­el­ing them sec­tion by sec­tion? I didn’t know that is what peo­ple meant. I thought they just sec­tioned it off in twists or braids.

The Natural Haven
I think you mis­read the orig­i­nal post. My pre­cau­tion was advice on how you can reduce the amount of sweat on the hair, it was not to say that you should not wash your hair at all post exer­cise. I stat­ed that you can opt to either rin­se hair post exer­cise or wash it as stan­dard (cow­ash or shampoo/conditioner). I do not rec­om­mend leav­ing sweat in hair as it dries out into salt.  Address­ing the issue of den­si­ty, I think we have to get away from the idea that an updo con­sists of just one pony­tail. With dense hair like my… Read more »
June

Good point on your sec­ond para­graph.

I wash in sec­tions, but I always unrav­el. I feel the hair is not get­ting cleaned well if I don’t unrav­el. I will try it with the braids or twists in some­time.

meow

I agree, the scalp seems to be so under­looked. Even when I wash my hair, my focus is on my SCALP, not only on the hair itself. The rea­son why I can’t wash my hair only once or twice a mon­th is because it’s not good for the scalp. Peo­ple seem to assume that oh, my hair doesn’t smell, my hair looks clean, so I can go longer than a mon­th or two with­out wash­ing. The focus should be more on the scalp, not only on the hair.

Applesauce
I have APL to BSL 4b hair. I used to wash with poo every 1 to 2 weeks, but I’m cur­rent­ly exper­i­ment­ing with “water only” wash­ing. I now wash twice a week in about 12 fat twists with very warm water. I rub my scalp vig­or­ous­ly and use gran­u­lat­ed white sug­ar to scrub as need­ed. I wash my hair while I show­er so that I can allow the water to run over it for as long as pos­si­ble. When I’m done, my scalp is clean­er but def­i­nite­ly not com­plete­ly clean.  I’ve been using this method for a lit­tle over two weeks… Read more »
The Natural Haven

I have heard of the water only wash and the lady who had very pret­ty hair hav­ing done it for years. I am won­der­ing, do you use con­di­tion­er at all or are you stricly just water with the sug­ar scrub?

Out of curios­i­ty too, would you call your hair kinky?

Applesauce

So far, I haven’t used con­di­tion­er. I had been using con­di­tion­er only as a pre-poo before start­ing the “water only” reg­i­men. I think that to use con­di­tion­er now along with the “water only” method would just be like co-wash­ing. Plus, the cleansers in con­di­tion­er might cause my hair to shrink up like sham­poo does so I don’t want to risk it right now.

My hair is def­i­nite­ly kinky. Also cot­tony and a lit­tle wiry in places. My tex­ture close­ly resem­bles YouTu­ber Pook­i­nap­p16.

The Natural Haven

Thanks for the super fast reply. Pooks has gor­geous hair! If you ever decide to place your hair on the web please give me a shout, I would love to see :)

Nubia

Since a child my hair has been washed week­ly. I have attempt­ed to do the every 2 week thing on occa­sions, but my hair was­nt hav­ing it. I am cur­rent­ly at the 9″ mark WOOOHOOOOO, but I still only washed 1x per week when it was short­er. Sor­ry I can not do the go out­side with my hair wet thing (dur­ing any sea­son).. that’s not my cup of cof­fee
:-)

Classychassis

Out­side with cold wet hair used to dri­ve me mad! Thats one of the rea­sons i re-relaxed my hair before i was aware of the life­sav­ing teach­ings of pro­tec­tive styling:-P

Zyaran

For those wor­ried about smell issues you can put witch hazel on your head for in between wash­es, and they also have hair refresh­n­ers as well. But not every­one hair stanks, it depends on how well you take care of it, and also your body chem­i­cal make­up.

The Natural Haven

I agree with you Zyaran. One of my friends wash­es her hair every 3 weeks or so and does this on the rec­om­men­da­tion of her hair­dresser who told her that her hair was too dry and that she should stop wash­ing it every day. It works for her and her hair does not smell at all and there is noth­ing wrong with her scalp either.

Zyaran

I only wash my hair once or twice a mon­th, and it works great for me. Not all heads need to be con­tious­ly washed so much, and each head is dif­fer­ent. My hair grows very nice­ly and is very thick so it works for me.

Teare,T
I hon­est­ly do not get how is it pos­si­ble to go more than 1 week with­out wash­ing your hair. May­be it is pos­si­ble in cold cli­mates but in a trop­i­cal cli­mate, where you sweat more. It appears to be unhy­gien­ic to keep all that sweat and dirt in your hair. Sweat dries, increas­es the chance of odour. A while ago, I used pub­lic trans­porta­tion and sat behind a per­son with braids in their hair and their had a strong, foul odour. I say, if you are not going to be around oth­ers then it is find to go 3wks or… Read more »
nelle
I wash my hair every 2 wks. It works for me, my hair grows long, thick & healthy. If it’s pressed or curly I don’t do much to it unless my scalp is get­ting dry or my hair needs a lit­tle oil, but yeah 2wks. Unless it’s HOT out­side, then I just douse myself in water all day every­day. The lady who BGLH inter­viewed a year ago and showed how she grew her daughter’s long hair said the same thing. My mom can’t go more than a wk, b/c she sweats in her head bad­ly, I have more hair but… Read more »
meow
To each their own, but per­son­al­ly I can’t real­ly imag­ine going a whole mon­th not wash­ing my hair, even if my hair is well mois­tur­ized in between I would still feel the itch to get my hair wet and get it washed and clean. In cold­er weath­er, you don’t want to wash it as often than if you lived in a warmer cli­mate, just because going out in the cold with wet hair is the worse feel­ing ever. I’ve been around some peo­ple who had that strong, foul odour from not wash­ing their hair that often. I don’t think there’s… Read more »
Angela

I don’t quite under­stand going weeks or a mon­th between wash­ings. Is there any oth­er part of your body that you would not wash for weeks? If you aren’t wash­ing your hair at least week­ly or hit­ting the scalp with witch hazel at the least, you might be emit­ting an odor that oth­ers can smell.

meow

@ Ange­la- I don’t quite under­stand it either. I wouldn’t go a mon­th or weeks with­out wash­ing my body or brush­ing my teeth, so why would I do that with my hair? I think some peo­ple don’t real­ize that even though they may think that they don’t smell when going a mon­th or weeks with­out wash­ing their hair, oth­ers may or will smell it. I can def­i­nite­ly smell the odor, that’s for sure, and they can’t.

Queeny

That’s com­plete­ly ridicu­lous real­ly!!!! that’s depends on what u put or not in your hair, if u mois­tur­ize a lot n ur entire hair full of shea but­ter, of course that’s gonna smell!!!! but keep on ur mind there is a lot of peo­ple who just do not manip­u­late their hair every day…
N’ I m pret­ty that my hair was health­ier and longer when I was a child n my mum just sham­poo my hair once a mon­th and mois­tur­ize them once a week.

Stop crit­i­cize ladies and just accept that we’re all dif­fer­ent

NYC
I wash my hair almost every day.  If I do not wash it on the 2nd day, I can rub my fin­ger­tips on my scalp and defi­nate­ly smell the oil that my scalp pro­duces. A few years ago, I was in the hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing a sugery. I was not per­mit­ted to wash my hair (not able to bend, or per­mit­ted to take a show­er) for 5 days. My scalp stunk real­ly bad and was so very itchy. I have often smelled oily hair from lots of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, on the NYC sub­way (where close prox­im­i­ty to the offend­ing scalp makes… Read more »
Virginia

I wash my hair and my son’s hair every two weeks. I mois­tur­ize and seal our ends sev­er­al times a week. I also apply witch hazel to our scalps a few times per week. I’ve nev­er had a prob­lem with bad smelling hair, dan­druff, head lice or any­thing else that oth­ers may asso­ciate with infre­quent hair wash­ing. Peo­ple should do what works for them and not judge oth­ers. It’s a per­son­al choice!

meow

@ Queeny- Stop being so over­sen­si­tive! We’re just enti­tled to our thoughts and opin­ions as you are to yours, and accept that peo­ple have dif­fer­ent opin­ions, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive, and can speak them if they wish regard­less if it doesn’t meet your approval.

Audrey
It’s the blan­ket com­ments that both­er me. Sure if some­one doesn’t take care of their hair then it may smell, but to assume that every­one who doesn’t wash as reg­u­lar­ly as you do has stinky hair isn’t right. It’s one thing to have an opin­ion on the issue, it’s anoth­er to bat­ter down some­one you don’t know about how they care for their hair, and that has hap­pened on nat­u­ral hair forums, so now I’m wary of talk about how ‘dirty someone’s hair must be’, etc. May­be the issue is that wash­ing once a mon­th does not equal not rins­ing, etc.? I’m a… Read more »
Lvflg

yeah. that’s the down­side to read­ing the­se threads — there seems to be a need [by some] to cas­ti­gate oth­ers who sim­ply have dif­fer­ent opines. Was­sup with that???

June

+1

Sieta

Once a week usu­al­ly, some­times twice a week. Once a mon­th with sham­poo.

It real­ly depends on my hair and how I feel.

Dances_with_pen

When I’m at home dur­ing break, I wash my hair every oth­er week, but now that I’m back in school with class and two jobs, I don’t have time for all that. My coils are 5–6 inch­es and all that I use on my twists are water, Shea Mois­ture Coconut and Hibis­cus Con­di­tion­ing Milk as a leave in (once a week), and whipped shea but­ter as a sealant. I leave the twists for three weeks then wash. Since I don’t use much pro­duct, my hair isn’t that oily.

Natalie

I for­got to add I was in France for about 10 days and didn’t wash my hair but as I mois­turised and sealed every day my hair was in great con­di­tion and I think I could have gone anoth­er week with­out wash­ing my hair.

Natalie
My hair is about 3″ at the back and 7″ at the front (an over enthu­si­as­tic hair­dresser cut my hair, I won’t be going back) and I wash my hair once a week. I would wash it more often but when I think about how much mon­ey is on my head I lim­it myself to wash­ing once a week. I only learnt about pro­tec­tive styles etc this Jan­u­ary and my hair was 3″ at the back and 5 3/4″ at the front, I was wash­ing my hair every 3–4 days and I saw my hair change to a health­ier con­di­tion. I… Read more »
meow

I wash my locs every 2–3 days or when­ev­er I feel like it.

Rosie

Real­ly?? I nev­er heard of peo­ple with locs wash­ing that often. The peo­ple i know wash once or twice a mon­th max. 

I have loose nat­u­ral hair and i was about once a week. twice a week in the sum­mer (if i have time).

meow

@ Rosie- I’m a freeformer, so I can wash my locs when­ev­er I want with­out wor­ry­ing about any­thing unrav­el­ing. Most peo­ple who wear locs wash once or twice a mon­th max because they don’t want to ruin their tight­ened roots. It’s all per­son­al pref­er­ence though of course.

Erica B.

My hair is around 4–5 inch­es. I co-wash every oth­er day and sham­poo and DC once a week. My hair loves water.

Jade

fort­night­ly.

I have APL tight spring curls, high den­si­ty strands, medi­um poros­i­ty, fine indi­vid­u­al strands, with the ends of my hair col­ored brown.

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