How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

Discover the amazing benefits of Garnier Ultimate Blends.

The Perfect Haircare Routine

Wouldn't it be great if you never had to wash your hair again? Apologies if you're bald because you know this already, but imagine if you could just walk in the shower, apply a bit of body wash and walk out. Done. No messing around; no precarious balancing of shampoos and conditioners; no having to get out of the shower because you've left the conditioner on the side of the bath or your other half has taken it to the gym; no confusion over which product is which; no lingering thought that you might not have completely rinsed out all the conditioner.

Life would be so much simpler.

But life's not like that. Have hair, must wash. Yes, you hear talk of pioneering friends or celebrities who have given up shampooing altogether and entered a Zen-like existence of perfectly balanced hair that always looks great, but, honestly, are you the sort of person who would do that? For a start, would you risk it? What if you were the one person for whom the ‘no-shampoo routine’ goes horribly wrong and everywhere you went people started sidling away from you or staring at you like some eccentric fool?

Even if it were possible to reach a state of self-cleaning hair nirvana, could you survive the transitional period – the weeks, possibly months of uncertainty, the grease and the general sense of "Eww!"

No? No, I thought not. Because you care about your hair. It matters that you look groomed, clean, maybe even a little glamorous. And that means a life of serious hair care, as opposed to casual indifference or wilful negligence.

But how often should you wash your hair? Every day? Twice a day? Once a fortnight? Only on date nights? And what constitutes the best routine? Is it possible that the way we wash our hair, or the way we apply products, is having a detrimental effect on our tresses?

First things first: Frequency.

What's the optimum hair-washing frequency? Annoyingly, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It all comes down to hair type, the kind of life you lead and personal preference.

Lifestyle is significant. If you're a gym bunny, training for a triathlon or live in an urban area with high levels of pollution, you're going to need to wash your hair more frequently than if you live like a nun on a remote Scottish isle. All hair attracts dust, particulates emitted by traffic, chlorine from pools and the general detritus of modern life that is pretty much invisible to the naked eye. Leave it in your hair and it will build up, smell and detract from that ideal glossy shine. It might even cause damage.

But then you knew that. What may surprise you is that most experts – and we say most because opinions vary – advise us to avoid washing our hair every day if we want to avoid dry hair, for two reasons: 1) the cleaning agents (the shampoos) tend to strip the hair of its natural oils, and 2) washed hair is usually dried with heat, another cause of dehydration.

What about hair type?

If your hair is naturally dry, washing a maximum of twice a week is the general recommendation. Naturally oily hair can be washed more frequently, possibly as often as every day. If your hair is 'normal' (i.e. not particularly dry, not particularly greasy) or you're simply not sure what kind of hair you have, then stick to washing it every two to three days.

If your hair is curly, you might benefit from washing it less than someone with very straight hair. If your hair is short, you can probably wash every day as you'll be less likely to damage or dehydrate your hair with styling tools and hair brushes.

Hair colour – natural hair colour – should be considered too. Research suggests brunettes should wash their hair less frequently because dehydration caused by over-washing can cause precious pigment to leach out.

Does method matter?

It most certainly does. Don't be too rough. Massage shampoo into your roots to gently cleanse and stimulate your scalp without irritating it. You don't need to wash the ends; it's better to let the shampoo cleanse them as you rinse.

How long before I rinse?

Again, there’s no hard and fast rule, but leaving the shampoo to do its work for a minute or two – thirty seconds at the very least – should help. It's not a process to rush.

Do I need conditioner?

With the best will in the world and the gentlest shampoo (something packed with natural, hair enhancing goodies like one of Garnier's Ultimate Blends), the process of washing will have a dehydrating effect, so a good conditioner suited to your hair type will help to restore, protect and encourage natural, healthy-looking shine. Some product ranges, and Ultimate Blends is one, offer ultra-hydrating leave-in conditioners or 'masks' that deliver a more intensive level of conditioning. Perfect if you have particularly dry or unruly hair. And remember, conditioners only need to be applied to hair tips, which are always the driest and most unruly.

When would I use a hair oil or serum?

When your hair needs more TLC than normal, you can use a hair oil – Ultimate Blends have some brilliant, inexpensive ones – that will help prevent damage, such as split ends, while boosting shine. Hair serums are powerful styling tools that can add shine, calm frizz or even protect against humidity when applied to wet hair in very small quantities.

The key is to find the products that suit your hair and be disciplined. Work out your best hair regime and stick to it. Your hair will thank you.