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Recently, a friend and I got into a little, uh, debate, over how often you should wash your hair, after she defiantly admitted to our friend group that she washes her curls—yes, curls—every single day, without fail. A collective gasp settled over the crowd. Okay, fine, it was only me, but it’s because as a beauty editor, you have one mantra drilled into your brain over and over again from hairstylists since day one: Do not wash your hair every day. Hell, don’t even wash it every other day, if you can stand it.
The reason? All of those natural scalp oils lubricate your hair strands, helping prevent breakage, split ends, dryness, and damage, and when you lather up on a daily basis, you’re stripping away all of those protective oils, which, in turn, causes your scalp to produce even MORE oil to compensate for the dryness. Basically, if you’re washing your hair daily, there’s a 99-percent chance your hair is suffering for it right now.
But hey, I’m just a lone beauty editor with an incomplete knowledge, so I did some digging to see if I could find a general consensus on how often people actually wash their hair. And apparently, this debate has been raging on for a while. This viral Reddit thread, for example, asks the simple question of “How often do you wash your hair?” The number of comments it received? 451. Yup, that means hundreds and hundreds of people took the time to debate their hair-washing habits, and honestly, I love it.
Some people have very specific routines, like one user, who wrote “once per week, every Sunday at 6:30 PM,” or another who wrote, “Sunday is wash day. It’s an actual event. It takes ALL day. Curly hair is the devil, man.” Others took my friend’s point of view, writing “every day” or “seven days a week,” or, as one user wrote, “Once a day. I have really oily hair. I’ve tried leaving it as long as I can to let it get used to infrequent washes, but it gets so disgusting [that] I lay awake feeling like there’s stuff crawling on my head. So, every day it is.”
And then, my favorite people, the ones who agree with me, agree with washing their hair more infrequently, like every two-to-three days (“I used to wash my hair daily, but it made it oily and fine. My hair improved a lot since I started washing it less frequently,” wrote one user). Basically, the answer is super-scattered and varied, though, based on my very unscientific research—AKA I just read about 300 of these comments until my eyes glazed over—the general consensus falls in the one-to-two-days range.
But, just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s “right,” as my parents looooved to consistently reinforce about smoking, sex, drugs, cutting your own bangs, etc. So if you want to get “official,” the general rule of thumb is if your hair is fine, wash it no more than once every other day, if your hair is thicker and/or curlier, try to hold off until day three or four, and if your hair is super coarse and kinky curly, properly washing just once a week will be your sweet spot (though, of course, you should be spritzing and conditioning your curls daily so they don’t dry out and shrink up).
Obviously, though, the bottom line is that you do you, because there’s no real formula for washing your hair, because every scalp and oil production and activity level is different. But if your hair has been feeling a bit dry, tangled, damaged, and blah, and you’re washing it every day, then maybe ease off a bit to every other day, and invest in a really good dry shampoo, like Klorane’s Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk BUY IT, or my favorite drugstore buy, Batiste’s Dry Shampoo in Original BUY IT. Trust me—your hair will thank you for it.