Over Washing Hair

Woman washing her long hair
Photo: Puhhha/Shutterstock
Q: Is over washing your hair possible? How do you know when you wash your hair too often?
A: Yes, over washing is actually much more common than you would imagine. Actually, most people over wash their hair.
Most shampoo and conditioner houses openly advocate the use of shampoo and conditioner on a daily or bi-daily basis. The reason for this is obvious; when people wash their hair on a daily basis, they have to buy a large bottle of shampoo and conditioner each month or every two weeks. The haircare industry automatically makes a lot of money this way.
The truth is that the more you wash your hair, the quicker it will become oily. The reason for this is the fact that you’re over-stimulating the hair follicles when you wash your hair every day, which will cause the follicle to produce more hair oil or sebum. Also, shampoo strips the hair of its natural oil. When this happens, the follicle automatically produces more and more sebum or hair oil to try and make up for your dried out tips. Thus, if you wash your hair every day, the roots will tend to be oily yet the tips are dry and brittle.
You can reverse the process by systematically reducing the frequency of washing your hair. If you wash your hair every day, start to only wash it every second day. There will be a transitional period where your hair will be oily, because it has been “programmed” or stimulated into over-producing sebum to counter your habit of over-washing it. This period won’t take long, and before long you’ll see that your hair won’t be greasy on the second day. When this happens, you can start to only wash your hair every third day, following the same process.
Healthy hair only needs to be washed maximum twice per week, and a lot of people swear by only washing their hair once a week. Reese Witherspoon only washes her hair once a week, come rain or shine, and she has some of the healthiest hair in Hollywood. If you’re used to washing your hair every single day, this concept might seem gross to you. Yet I can promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the positive effects that it will have on your hair if you’re currently over-washing.
Over washed hair tends to be very oily at the root area while the ends are dry and brittle. This kind of hair will also become oily within a day, irrespective of the fact that it has been washed that same morning. The structure of the hair will tend to be dry, frizzy or damaged due to excess loss of natural oils or sebum. You should always remember that the hair’s natural oils are the hair’s natural way of protecting and regenerating itself. No form of conditioner or mask can do this better than natural oils do.
Very short hair can be washed more frequently than long hair, as the follicle easily distributes the oil from root to tip in a short period of time. Very long hair should be washed minimally.
See also:
How to wash your hair
How does shampoo clean the hair?
How long should you keep shampoo on your hair?