Most of us wash our faces twice daily, but many don’t follow the same rule regarding our scalps. The reason: a mix of lifestyle choices, the desire to preserve a blowout, and limited time have women sacrificing the health of their scalps for a good hair day. “Women are under more pressure than ever to look presentable, so they extend their blowout to save time and limit thermal damage,” says Shab Reslan, a New York-based trichologist, hairstylist, host of the Hair Like Hers podcast, and founder of Leona, a hair health platform.
So four hair experts sound off on why you shouldn’t stretch out your blowouts too long.
The skin-scalp connection
The skin on the face and the skin on the scalp is closely connected with the main difference, according to Dr. William Yates, a board-certified hair loss surgeon, being that the scalp has more sebaceous glands, which lubricates the hair shaft to prevent breakage. The scalp deserves the same attention as the skin on the face, yet it’s often glossed over. Until recently, the focus has been predominantly on hair health, but that is changing as we learn more about the scalp and how to best care for it. “Women are coming around to scalp care, especially those who experience thinning hair, excessive shedding, breakage, and even long-haul hair issues as a result of COVID,” says celebrity hairstylist Nunzio Saviano.
How often should you cleanse?
Keeping the follicles as clean as possible ensures a scalp that functions optimally. “It’s important to cleanse the scalp to reduce buildup that can create itching and other issues,” says Dr. Yates. Ignoring the health of the scalp and failing to cleanse it can lead to dry, damaged, and brittle strands. “Dull hair surfaces because it doesn’t receive ample blood and oxygen flow beneath the scalp,” explains Saviano.
According to celebrity hairstylist and R + Co Collective Member Jenny Cho, everyone’s scalp and hair have different needs. “We don’t have the same skin on our scalps, just like we all don’t have the same skin types, so you should do what works best for you.” Here’s how to navigate how often to shampoo your hair according to your scalp.
- If you have oily skin and super fine hair that gets greasy in less than 24 hours, wash daily or every other day to maintain a clean scalp.
- If you have a normal scalp and normal hair that’s straight, wash every two days or so.
- If you have dry skin and a dry scalp, shampoo your hair about every three days.
- If you have thick, coarse, kinky hair and a normal to dry scalp, cleanse every few days to once per week. Dr. Yates says, “Black hair has smaller sebaceous glands and secretes less sebum making the hair more prone to dryness and breakage if over washed.”
Beyond basic shampoo
Proper scalp cleansing consists of more than just using shampoo. Whereas shampoo removes dirt, oil, and product buildup, scalp exfoliators go one step further to remove dead skin cells via chemical or physical exfoliants. “Everyone should use a scrub one to two times per month for a deep clean,” suggests Reslan. For example, Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum relies on a mix of alpha-hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids to gently lift away dead skin cells and buildup for a super clean scalp and bouncy hair.
Scalp facials are another option. For example, Saviano’s New York City salon offers the Oxilogica Treatment, a high-performance, plant-based scalp facial that employs an oxygen delivery system to improve scalp and hair conditions and thwart hair loss. “It’s just like a facial, and it detoxifies, nourishes, conditions, and repairs the scalp to its optimum state,” explains Saviano.
Is daily washing bad?
Simply put, daily washing won’t ruin your hair if it’s what your scalp and hair need, but using the right products is critical. “Sulfate- and paraben-free shampoos that gently cleanse with naturally nourishing ingredients like coconut oil and water, avocado, and olive and argan oils are best,” says Saviano. Another reason to avoid sulfates is that they can push sebum production into overdrive.
On the other hand, not washing the scalp enough can lead to an invisible buildup that clogs the follicles and prevents the hair from growing. “A lack of regular cleansing can cause seborrheic dermatitis, a flaky and patchy psoriasis-like condition,” says Reslan. To counteract scalp dryness, give it some TLC with a vitamin-rich leave-in conditioner like IN COMMON Magic Myst Universal Elixir or a serum that provides instant relief, such as VIVI Naturals CBDetox.
On non-wash days, dry shampoos, like IGK First Class Charcoal Dry Shampoo and Klorane Dry Shampoo, help absorb excess oil and give a blast of volume. Similar to dry shampoos are dry conditioners. The water-free R + Co. RAINLESS Dry Cleansing Conditioner is perfect when washing isn’t an option, but moisture is necessary. “It’s a refresher for the hair that brings back bounce, redefines curls, absorbs sebum, and refreshes any unwanted hair smells,” says Cho.
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