How Often Should You Shampoo Your Hair?

Reviewed on 7/13/2021
how often to shampoo your hair
Here’s how often you should shampoo your hair based on your hair type, and what to keep in mind to avoid damaging your hair

Chances are you’ve heard conflicting advice about shampooing your hair. Should you wash daily to keep your scalp clean? Or ditch the shampoo altogether and use just water?

The truth is that when it comes to how often you should shampoo your hair, it depends on a few factors:

  • Is your scalp oily?
  • Do you work out every day?
  • Do you use a lot of hair products, such as gels and sprays?
  • Is your hair exposed to a lot of dust?

If your answer to these questions is “yes,” you may need to shampoo more often than other people. Otherwise, you may be able to get away with much less.

Which hair types should shampoo more often or less often?

Depending on your hair texture and type, you may want to increase or decrease the number of times you shampoo each week:

  • Oily hair: Every 1-2 days to prevent the buildup of dirt.
  • Dry or damaged hair: Every 5-7 days to retain some of the hair’s natural oils.
  • Fine or thin hair: Every 2 days to provide enough moisture and body to the hair.
  • Wavy or curly hair: Every 4-5 days depending on the density of the hair.
  • Scalp condition and sensitivity: 
    • If you have a dry scalp that produces less sebum, you should shampoo less often. This can help prevent itching and flaking and keep your hair soft and shiny. 
    • If you have a very oily scalp, you may develop painful bumps on the scalp or along the hairline. You should wash your hair more frequently.

How does shampoo work?

Shampoo contains surfactants that produce a rich lather, trapping and removing oil from the hair. Some shampoos may even contain ingredients that can fight dandruff or fungal infections of the scalp and provide extra benefits, although these should be used as directed by a dermatologist.

By cleaning the scalp, shampooing can promote hair health by:

  • Combatting hair odor
  • Soothing an irritated scalp
  • Preventing and treating dandruff
  • Making hair soft, shiny, and manageable

However, shampooing too frequently can also damage your hair by stripping it of natural oils, which can dry out your hair and make it brittle. That’s why some people choose sulfate-free or moisturizing shampoos, although there is little evidence that sulfate-free shampoos are less harsh than regular products.

A well-formulated, mild shampoo will not interfere with hair growth and can help increase the strength of your hair.

How to shampoo your hair correctly

Shampoo more often if you notice that your:

  • Hair is oily
  • Scalp is sweaty or itchy
  • Hair is rough and dry

Shampoo less often if you notice that your hair:

  • Is dull and shedding
  • Feels dry

More tips for healthy hair:

  • Always use room temperature water to shampoo your hair.
  • Use a small amount of shampoo and massage it gently on your scalp.
  • Let the shampoo run through your strands but avoid applying too much to your ends.
  • Never skip conditioning your hair afterwards.
  • Avoid heat drying your hair whenever possible and let it air dry instead.

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References
D'Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know?. Indian J Dermatol. 2015;60(3):248-254. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/

American Academy of Dermatology. How Often Do Children Need To Wash Their Hair. https://www.aad.org/public/parents-kids/healthy-habits/parents/wash-hair

Birch J. How Often Do I Need to Shampoo? https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/how-often-wash-hair#1

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