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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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,… 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.… 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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