Do You Wash Your Hair Enough?
Who knew hair-washing could be so … complicated?
A lot of women, warned by beauty editors and websites that shampooing too often was the culprit for their parched strands and out-of-whack scalps, have cut back on their shampoo regimen. Instead of regularly lathering up at home, a weekly routine might now go like this: a blowout at a blow-dry bar, dry shampoo, dry shampoo, dry shampoo, followed by another professional styling session, and so on.
While curbing excess washing has its merits, there are bound to be those who go overboard. “The truth is, some of my guy clients have been coming in and asking me to tell their girlfriends, wives, lovers to wash their hair,” said Michael Angelo, a Manhattan stylist and salon owner, who recently tended the locks of Victoria’s Secret models at its Paris show. “It’s because they stink! You’d be shocked how many people will tell me, ‘Oh, 10 days ago I had a blowout and I did a killer SoulCycle session this morning and I haven’t washed my hair at all.’”
Mr. Angelo said the problem he is seeing was mostly aesthetic. “All you have to do is massage your scalp with your fingers and then smell them,” he said. “You’ll know if you need to wash.”
The colorist Rita Hazan, who is known for her work on Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez, is seeing more serious concerns, like dry, flaky, itchy or oily scalp. “People don’t think about their scalp as having pores, but your scalp should be treated like skin,” Ms. Hazan said. “You don’t want your pores to be clogged.”
“Women have been badgered for washing their hair too often, but products are so much better than they were even five years ago,” she added. “If you are using the right products, they will be gentle enough to use daily even.”
This month, Pantene from Procter & Gamble is converting its entire line to a new shampoo and conditioner formula, one that “delivers very thin sheets of hydrating biolipids,” said Al Maingot, vice president for research and development at P.&G. (Traditional shampoo and conditioning formulas rely on spherical globs of moisture, he said. The idea is that the new formulas clean without stripping and moisturize without adding weight.)
If the right shampoo doesn’t fix things, don’t overlook dandruff, a common problem this time of year. “Often when a women notices flakes, she immediately decreases shampooing because she thinks she’s too dry,” said Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist in New York. “But a lot of time it’s dandruff, and cutting back on shampooing will only make it worse.”
Even if dandruff is not at fault, Dr. Fusco recommends regular shampooing to clear away dead skin. For a deeper clean, salt scrubs, like Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt ($52 at Sephora), can be an excellent way to sweep away leftover products and grime. (Dr. Fusco also suggests this D.I.Y. method: Add a teaspoon of salt or sugar to your regular shampoo.)
Mr. Robin, who is based in Paris, has also noticed scalp problems at his salon, but he thinks the issue is not under-shampooing but rather that women are not cleansing properly.
“Women are in too much of a rush,” he said. “You need to rinse very thoroughly the products out of your hair.” He suggests this routine: Take 15 minutes and wash with your hair upside down (to improve circulation), then rinse very well. Add a conditioner or masque and work from the roots to the ends, but avoid leaving product on your scalp. “Then rinse, rinse, rinse like crazy,” he said.
“If you need it, add a couple drops of apple cider vinegar — it’s antibacterial — to cold water and use that to rinse the scalp again after conditioning. It helps the grease from coming back.”
Some women who bought into the less-is-more mantra are reconnecting with their shampoo bottles precisely because they missed the regimen.
Stefanie Koenig, a consultant in Brooklyn, used to spritz on dry shampoo frequently, but since becoming a mother, her shower time has become precious. “It’s one of the few moments I get alone, so why not make it as frequent and extended as possible?” she said.
And Kitty Bromhead, a mom who also lives in Brooklyn, started using Oribe’s dry shampoo as a timesaver for styling her bangs but also because she had read that shampooing too much would strip her hair. But now she is back to washing every other day.
“I didn’t like the residue of dry shampoo; I felt like it was affecting shine and maybe the health of my hair,” she said. “But also, I realized there’s something really nice about just washing your hair.”