Many of us go about our morning and bedtime routines in a sort of mental autopilot. Each time we shower or bathe, we wash our face, body, and hair with, respectively, a facial cleanser, soap or body wash, and shampoo. You may be surprised to learn that this seemingly healthy routine may be undermining your quest for glowing skin and shiny, full-bodied hair.
How Often Should You Wash?
The appearance of your face and your hair are both influenced by an oily substance called sebum that is secreted by sebaceous glands in the face and scalp. Some people produce excess sebum and tend to have oily skin and hair. Others produce little sebum and tend to have dry skin or hair. The amount of sebum an individual generates may change during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
How often you should wash your hair depends on how much sebum you produce. Dermatologists recommend that shampooing daily is usually unnecessary. In some cases (if you’ve been exercising, live in a very humid environment, or have very fine, oily hair) shampooing daily may be warranted.
Absent the aforementioned scenarios, your scalp and hair will probably not become dirty or oily enough to require daily need cleaned. When you shampoo and your hair and scalp don’t have excess dirt and oil, you’ll simply be stripping away a beneficial layer of natural oil.
Think Before You Lather
The key is balance: You don’t want to allow oil to build up and cause your hair to appear greasy, nor do you want to remove the moisturizing and protective properties of your skin’s natural oils. Over-shampooing can dry out your hair causing breakage and dry out your scalp causing dandruff.
There is no definite one-size-fits-all rule to shampooing frequency (although some dermatologists note that the longest you should ever go without shampooing is about 14 days.) It’s best to evaluate your hair scenario daily. If your scalp feels itchy, if your hair looks oily, if you have a build-up of styling products in your hair, if you’ve just returned from the beach or pool, it’s probably time to shampoo.
If you shampooed a day or a few days ago, and your hair still looks good you can probably skip the shampoo. In fact, some types and styles of hair actually improve in appearance between washes.
Next time you prepare to bathe or shower, try to switch your brain off of autopilot! Instead of reaching for the shampoo, you may decide to reach for a shower cap or enjoy a water-only rinse.
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