Photo Credit: Michelle Tessier Photography

When you watch a shampoo commercial, where is the woman usually washing her hair? Usually in a hot, steamy shower or under a waterfall in a tropical paradise, right? The point is, she is usually standing upright massaging the shampoo through her scalp. Now, imagine watching a shampoo commercial with a woman hunched over her kitchen sink. Find that odd? Well, if you’re like me and a number of women I know, the kitchen sink was where our mothers washed our hair as little girls. It didn’t occur to me until recently that once I left for college and no longer had the space to wash my hair in a sink I  took for granted that washing my hair in the shower was preferable, even when I moved into my own home. While using the shower is often presented as the default method, there are some advantages to using a sink.

Time and Convenience

How long does it usually take you to wash your hair? For me, it takes anywhere from 20-25 minutes depending on the products I used and the buildup that may have resulted as a consequence. Because I usually go through my entire shower routine when washing my hair (might as well since I’m in the shower), the entire process can take 30-35 minutes. While it may seem that it should take the same amount of time to wash your hair, irrespective of the method, I find that washing your hair in the sink can actually save time. It’s not a perfect analogy, but consider how quickly your hair is washed in the sink at a salon compared to the length of time it takes you to wash it in the shower?

One of the reasons it takes less time is that you can have a direct stream of water cleansing your hair from the shampoo, which is generally more efficient that the spray shower heads many of us use. If you have a spray attachment on your sink, then those are even more efficient when it comes to cleansing your scalp. Using the sink is also helpful when you want a quick rinse because you’ve had an intense workout or you simply want to “reset” your hair for another style. It may also be a great way to rinse out a deep conditioning treatment if you don’t feel like jumping back in the shower.

Detangling and Comfort

Perhaps one area in which the shower method of washing hair is superior is that it helps with keeping your hair tangle free. However, if you detangle your hair prior to washing and section your hair in large loose braids, the manner in which you position your head may not necessarily make a difference. What will matter is your level of comfort and hands down, washing your hair in the sink is more uncomfortable. Now, because it takes less time it may not necessarily be a problem for you. However, if you have neck or back issues or if you’re pregnant, I wouldn’t recommend this method of washing.

So…Hygiene

We know what the shower is for: washing our bodies. So, it isn’t strange that we would wash other parts of our bodies there such as our scalp and hair. For some people the challenge with washing their hair in the sink is due, primarily, to concerns about hygiene. It’s the space where they place dirty dishes and prepare foods such as meat and fish. If you do use the sink, you definitely want to clean it for any visible residue (i.e. food particles), then clean it with a disinfectant. Since sinks are rather small it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to properly clean the area. If you still cannot wrap you mind around placing your head in the sink, then I’d say skip it. You’re going to invest a bit of time either way, so you might as well choose a method that makes you feel comfortable.

What is your preferred method of hair washing: The kitchen sink or the shower?

Gen

Island girl raised in the most royal of NYC's boroughs. Proud nerd, social scientist, educator and recovering awkward black girl. When not listening to NPR, trying to grow spiritually, or detangling my fro, I'm searching for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

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20 Comments on "Sink or Shower: What’s the Best Place to Wash Natural Hair?"

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PurplePlus

Even though I occasionally wash my mid length hair in the shower, I prefer to bend over the tub to wash my hair. When my hair was waist length, there was no way I would wash it in the shower. It just seemed wasteful to let the water run while working the conditioner in my hair. On the other hand, I would probably get chilled to the bone standing naked in the shower with the water off, while I condition and detangle.

McKenzie Gardner

The shower makes it easier for me to detangle my 3b/c hair. Its also easier to style it after getting out of the shower in the mornings. However, it shouldn’t become a daily routine because then you’re just stripping your hair, no matter how much sealant you use. If washing it in the sink makes it easier to refrain from over washing, then go for it.

Cosita

I usually shampoo in the sink and cowash in the shower. That’s because I need to dc 45 minutes after shampooing. Everyone keeps talking dishes but there is a sink in the bathroom. mine has two sinks.

vanx 2801

I prefer the shower. My hair seems to get tang-ly in the sink

JenniD

Shower or over the tub for me. I still bend forward to wash my hair in the shower ironically because I prefer the water to flow forward. I’m not picky though. Where ever there is running water.

OXxo

I have a shower with a hand held attachment so I can wash my hair without stepping into the shower. I don’t understand people who don’t have one of these attachments as it makes it also makes it quicker and easier to clean.

When I was little my hair was washed over the bath tub and never in the kitchen sink. My parents’ upbringing made it clear it was unhygienic to wash your body including your hair where you prepare food.

Phoxxie

Its funny I ran into this article because I plan on washing my hair in the kitchen sink. I just dont feel like jumping in and out of the shower today. I wash my hair while its in twists so this will make it much easier and faster too

Me

I didn’t know washing hair in the sink was something adults do. My hair hasn’t been washed in a home sink since 3rd grade. Considering how clogged my bathtub drain gets after a few months of shampooing and conditioning, it would really alarm me to know hair is accumulating in the sink where people prepare their food and wash their dishes.

LBell
It depends on where I can get the best water pressure, to be honest. Currently I live in an apartment with one of those shower heads that creates a kind of rainfall effect. It takes longer to rinse my hair under the shower than it does under the kitchen sink faucet, which also happens to be detachable. Two apartments ago I had a shower with a detachable shower head and I felt like I finally understood what the fuss was about, lol. I guess I’m not squeamish (too much) about washing my hair or another human being’s hair in the… Read more »
Carlyssa Pierre

I do both. I hate getting in and out the shower multiple times, so I typically cleanse in the sink(bathroom sink) and rinse out my DC/Treatment in the shower after I’ve let it sit.

Bigantic

Sink washing makes my neck hurt and being so close to the faint smell of food/bleach/whatever sink cleaner we used prior for a long period of time makes me dizzy.

SheridaDaily

I had no idea people washed their hair in kitchen sinks until I went natural and saw it on the blogs! I thought it was peculiar, because for us, the kitchen is for food and food only. Shower for me 🙂

nocturnalpianist

I’ve been natural my entire life. My mom would always wash my hair in the kitchen sink until I began washing my own hair at 14. I then began washing my waist length hair in the shower. I got LOTS of tangles. This was before I knew how to properly care for natural hair (2007). Soon after, I ended up having to cut a lot of matted hair out due to washing my hair out. Now I wash my hair in plaits after combing it out. I comb through it again in the shower. Never going back to the sink.

am

Shower for me. Washing my hair at the sink makes me nauseous.

Kayla V.

I get way too many tangles when I try to wash in the sink. I think sink washing would be more realistic if I had really short hair. My hair hangs all in the sink and lays on the bottom and I can’t get it all rinsed. I’m also funny about the mess it makes.

YaaLia

I recently moved house and shower is so I tiny so I’ve started to use the kitchen sink and it has made my washing regime so much easier and quicker.

Liza | http://www.yaalia.com

Tasha

I use both to be honest. When im hopping in the shower i usually wash my hair while im there or if i already showered / feeling lazy i will use the sink but i feel like i get my hair cleaner in the shower.

Robin
Shower. I stopped washing my hair at the sink when I was a teenager. At the salon, hair is shampooed in the sink while I’m lying back in a chair—not hunched over, with my face down in the sink. Conditioner is applied, and then I have to either sit there and wait a few minutes while it works or go sit under a dryer for deep conditioning. Once that’s done, conditioner is rinsed in the sink. Compared to my shower routine, the sink’s not really faster. I use those conditioner minutes to wash the rest of my body, so I… Read more »
pee

This article is so on time. I will not use my kitchen sink to wash my hair as I do not like the idea of mixing food with hair. Lol. I currently use the shower and hate it. Im a wash and go girl and put on all my products in the shower which equals messy. I hate how my shower looks when im done. So thisweekendumm redoing my laundry room. I now have a utility sink in there where I can wash my hair without worrying about hair in the kitchen or shower drain.

Robin
I’m a wash & go girl, too. I pretty much live in wash & gos. I also hate having a ton of products in the shower. Actually, I hate having to use a ton of products, period. I’ve drastically reduced my hair product list over the last 5 years. I use one shampoo, one “everyday” conditioner, one deep conditioner, and one finishing/sealing product. Oh, and in the winter, I’ll occasionally do an olive oil rinse—but I never store that stuff in the shower. I don’t store my shampoo and deep conditioner in the shower, since I only use them once… Read more »
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