two showers: conditioner both times?
October 9, 2005 6:31 PM   Subscribe

If you take two showers a day, should you use both shampoo and conditioner both times?

In my case, I take a shower in the morning, and then again after working out in the evening. Sometimes, but not often, I manage to work out in the morning, so in those cases it becomes a moot issue. But usually that's not practical.

I ask because I have read various arguments about the amount of various hair-care products that hair can stand and still be 'healthy.'

Skipping the shower (or even the washing of the hair) when I get up is really not an option either. I have to do it or I don't feel awake, no matter how clean I am. So, really, this question is about whether I should use both shampoo and conditioner the night before, or maybe just rinse. But speculation on the bigger picture, as well as matters not related to the question, is ok too.
posted by bingo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (39 answers total)
Some advocate no shampoo at all (especially for curly hair) just conditioner.

Others I know wash their hair with salt only (works for them.)

Better at least use a mild shampoo for multiple applications.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2005

Unless you use things like hair goo or other products in your hair I'd say you shouldn't need to shampoo even once a day. Short haired people could easily get away with once a week and, imo, have healthier hair.

So, in your case I'd say wet it in the morning (wash it without products) and then wash it post workout with shampoo and, if you actually think it's useful (I do not unless you have really long/tangly hair), conditioner.

My stylist hair cutter recommends using as little shampoo and conditioner as you can get away with and I agree with her.
posted by dobbs at 6:37 PM on October 9, 2005

I'd vote for washing with shampoo in the evening and without in the morning. Depending on how your hair is, you may even want to go every other day. I have very much heard from friends that you shouldn't wash it every day.

In my limited experience with hair - I only have what's on my own head! - hair looks and feels at its best when it's allowed to build up some of its own oils.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:37 PM on October 9, 2005

If I go more than a day without shampoo my hair is a grease pot. Even at my age.

My solution is to wash and condition at home, just rinse at the gym. Or vice versa, depending.
posted by konolia at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2005

I say rinse at night, wash at the gym. I personally never use conditioner on my hair, but my hair is oily. If it doesn't make your hair look or feel too oily, I think conditioning once a day is fine. They say switching shampoos can help remove buildup from overuse of one product- I know whenever I start to use something new, it gives my hair a little extra bounce, so maybe buy something new every time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:48 PM on October 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

My hair doesn't feel right to me if it gets wet but not washed. If I take a shower, the hair is washed and conditioned.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:51 PM on October 9, 2005

Just rinse. You might want to use a scalp massager in the shower to stimulate your scalp; I find that that makes my head feel cleaner.

I have thick, curly hair, and I stopped using shampoo altogether a few months ago. I comb my hair and use a scalp massager in the shower to spread natural oils from my scalp to my hair, and I put coconut oil on it when it needs moisture. My hair is both less greasy and less frizzy than it used to be. YMMV, but I'm very happy. It seems logical to me to let the hair keep its own natural oils rather than stripping it with shampoo and then making up for it with conditioner.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:57 PM on October 9, 2005

once a week

Ugghhh! Now that is disgusting. Please wash daily. More than that is probably not required, but may be necessary after a workout. If you notice effects on your hair, keep the amount of shampoo to a minimum and rinse it out quickly after application. Most people use far more than needed.
posted by caddis at 7:04 PM on October 9, 2005

Using shampoo too often can strip your hair and scalp of the natural oils that keep 'em healthy and happy. Instead of shampooing each time you shower, try gently massaging your scalp with your fingers to loosen any dirt and oil, and shampoo just when you really need to, with a gentle shampoo. Twice a day is probably a bit much - I doubt your hair gets dirty in between your evening and morning showers, so a little rinse and massage might be all you need.

I'm one of the above-mentioned curlyheads who has eliminated shampoo entirely from the hair-care routine. Instead of shampoo, I cleanse my hair with a non-detergent based cleanser. I've been doing this for a few years now and my hair has never looked (or behaved) better.
posted by discokitty at 7:05 PM on October 9, 2005

I wash and condition in the morning and wash only after hitting the gym. That's the compromise that's left my hair not feeling like a disgusting mess.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:05 PM on October 9, 2005

Unless you use things like hair goo or other products in your hair...

I do, every weekday. Also, my hair is short, thin, and accumulates oil fairly quickly...especially when I'm exercising, in which case I'm basically coated in sweat.
posted by bingo at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2005

IMO, konolia is suffering the effects of too much washing: her skin has gone into overdrive to cope with it. My bet is that if she -- and caddis, and other must-wash-daily folk -- were to go a month with shampooing only every second or third shower, they'd find the oil overproduction stops and their hair and scalp are much happier and healthier with it.

In the weeks-long backpacking vacations I've done, I have always found that my hair is in stunning condition by the end of it, because it has not been washed much at all. I am absolutely convinced that shampooing causes much more harm than good.

Myself, I think I probably shampoo an average thrice weekly. No conditioners, ever.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 PM on October 9, 2005

My feeling is that if you want to get the sweat & stuff out of your hair in the evening you should shampoo and/or just rinse off your hair with really hot water. In the morning, shampoo and condition and you'll be set for work. I am one of the minimal hair washers [frequent rinsing, very little shampooing, dreads] and it works fine for me.
posted by jessamyn at 7:14 PM on October 9, 2005

If I wash twice in one day I use very little shampoo the second time and don't work it down to the scalp. If I viourously soap and scrub my scalp everyday that's when the problems start. My hair, as opposed to my scalp, doesn't seem to care how often I wash it.
posted by Carbolic at 7:26 PM on October 9, 2005

Minimal washing, before the threshold of smelliness and aesthetic problems, is always optimal, hair included. Not washing away your body's oils too often keeps your skin and hair from getting dry. Incidentally, pheromones (which don't have a smell) are a part of interaction which is largely lost by washing. So yeah, don't shampoo the second time. Conditioning you're supposed to do after washing so skip that too. You could easily afford to even only do it every other day, so definitely skip it the same day.

Also, you're probably like most people and have an association between showering and waking up (not that it doesn't help in any case). You could save water and time by building another association, like washing your face for a couple minutes with hot and then cold water.
posted by abcde at 7:27 PM on October 9, 2005

I am definitely in the shampoo daily camp -- but if I do it more than once, I use a "daily clarifying" shampoo at least one of those times. In your case, I'd get a very gentle, probably herbal shampoo and only condition once, if at all...
posted by rleamon at 7:34 PM on October 9, 2005

I used to wash every time. Then I decided to try Carson Daily's advice and just wash every second shower or so. Works great.

As for after the workout -- I'm coming to the conclusion that it's better to use shampoo when you haven't been working out. I find that my hair gets drier if I use shampoo after the workout than it does if I use shampoo after not working out. My theory is that the fresh sweat and oils act as solvents and allow the shampoo to strip away more good stuff. So I've taken to just rinsing with warm water or conditioning and rinsing. Seems to help my dandruff, especially in teh dry northern winters.
posted by lodurr at 7:59 PM on October 9, 2005

discokitty -- can I ask: what is a non-detergent based cleaner for your hair? I have never heard of this.
I wash my hair every day, even though I color my hair which makes the ends a mess. Buf if I don't wash my hair, my scalp feels so disgusting and itchy, I end up gouging my scalp from all the scratching.
posted by j at 8:03 PM on October 9, 2005

I'm a curly girl that uses a non-detergent based cleanser, too. The one that I use is No-Poo by devacurl, but there are plenty available. sells some in their store, and there are also recommendations in their "shampooless" forum.
posted by amarynth at 8:40 PM on October 9, 2005

I wash my hair about once every other day, and when I shower without washing it I don't even get it wet...because getting my hair wet makes it all wonky again and I dislike that. Is that wrong?

Either way, washing one's hair twice a day seems like overkill.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 8:59 PM on October 9, 2005

I never condition my hair. Am I missing out on something? What kind of difference does it make? Will people treat me differently? This just adds to my paranoia of always thinking that I'm one letter short of the atm passcode to success.
posted by any major dude at 9:04 PM on October 9, 2005

It alters your hair's texture and makes it and less likely to split and knot, as well as look nicer.
posted by abcde at 9:19 PM on October 9, 2005

I shower daily, but if I shampooed every day my hair would turn into a nasty dry mass of stiff split ends, like one of those old-fashioned straw brooms. I shampoo and condition every other day, or every third day if I can get away with it.

My husband, however, shampoos daily, and again after a workout, but never uses conditioner, and his hair is fluffy and soft. YMMV, clearly.
posted by ambrosia at 9:34 PM on October 9, 2005

I have very long, fine and thick hair. I need to shampoo once daily and use conditioner every time, or else it's an hour long affair untangling my hair. Conditioner doesn't do much to my hair when it's dry--looks and feels the same--but I _need_ it if I don't want to spend forever untangling.
posted by sian at 9:39 PM on October 9, 2005

I have two showers a day for similar reasons: I use shampoo at night, and just rinse under water in the morning. Washing at night means that it stays clean, but has enough time to build up some natural oils overnight (with curly hair I find that's important to keep the curls together and prevent it becoming frizzy).
posted by teem at 10:05 PM on October 9, 2005

bingo's hair sounds like mine, in which case I say shampoo once a day with just a rinse the second time. I also do a serious conditioning once a week, if I skip it my hair is flat and fly-away and looks like it needs a cut way before that's actually true. I've used $30 deep conditioning treatments and plain olive oil left on for a half hour, both seem to work equally well. Not shampooing means it gets greasy and clumps in an extremely unattractive flat top, spikey bottom way, plus I smell like a wet goat. Yuck. I envy those of you with hair immune to this problem.
posted by cali at 10:07 PM on October 9, 2005

An issue nobody's mentioned is age. People get accustomed to coping with the oily hair of their teenage years and think they need to go on doing it into their 30s and 40s - and probably they don't. I have thick, shiny hair that gets me compliments, and in this company I hardly dare mention that it gets well brushed daily, and shampooed maybe once a week.
posted by zadcat at 11:18 PM on October 9, 2005

People, on the hair thing ymmv.

When I was young my mom only let me wash it once a week and that was a disaster.

BTW, when you are in your forties having overoily skin is not a bug, but a feature. ;-)
posted by konolia at 3:44 AM on October 10, 2005

once a week

Ugghhh! Now that is disgusting

It's funny, I was thinking of posting an AskMe about this because my mom's generation washed their hair once a week or so - and those before her even less - and she thinks it's bizarre that I do it every day. I'm rereading In Cold Blood (1950s), and there's a line about the teenage victim's weekly shampoo and set that started me wondering again.

I was curious about when daily shampooing became the norm and whether it was something to rethink.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:06 AM on October 10, 2005

when you are in your forties having overoily skin is not a bug, but a feature. ;-)

How true.

Since so many people here seem to have gotten good results with less frequent washing I will defer to the group's experience. I know it doesn't work for me, and I have gone many days without the ability to do more than rinse my hair in ice cold river water - each time it looked a limp, oily mess from day two until it saw shampoo.
posted by caddis at 7:56 AM on October 10, 2005

Washing with a sulfate-based shampoo twice a day is certainly not doing your hair any favors. There's a lot of guff on the Internets about potential safety hazards from sodium lauryl sulfate and its close relatives, which are present in almost every brand of drugstore shampoo available. Health risks aside, its definitely a powerful detergent that strips hair more than necessary for socially-acceptible levels of cleanliness.

I assume you're not interesting in investing $10+ a bottle in specialty shampoos, so I'd suggest a visit to your local health-food emporium. Brands like Kiss My Face or Tom's of Maine are readily available and more affordable than salon products anyway, and they'll get you just as clean and shiny as the stuff you've been using without wracking up damage to your follicles.
posted by junkbox at 7:58 AM on October 10, 2005

CunningLinguist, your instinct is right -- the daily shampoo came in during the late '60s, with the demise of the structured hair-do. In the beehive era, a gal woke up and removed the rayon scarf she'd wrapped around her 'do, corrected surface dents, applied another layer of lacquer to hold it, and then moved on to the brassiere, girdle, and stockings phase of her toilette. She'd go to the salon for a wash and set only once a week because that bizarre hair-topiary was incredibly time- and labor-intensive, requiring the skills of a trained professional. (The idle rich might splurge on twice-a-week sets.) A now-obsolete urban legend told the sad tale of a girl who went too long without washing her hair; a spider crawled into her beehive and laid eggs and then her hairdo exploded in class. (Or maybe the spider ate into her brain and she exploded in class. Something exploded, anyway.)

In the late '60s, that incredibly constrained esthetic went out, replaced by the "natural" look--no bra, no beehive. Of course, one's hygiene can be "natural" only to a certain point and new social insecurities, such as dandruff and stinky hair, appeared along with products to solve the new problems. I reckon daily shampooing came about as a marketing measure, to ensure maximum sales. That, and "rinse and repeat." (Does anyone really do this?)
posted by vetiver at 8:20 AM on October 10, 2005

IANASE, but I understand this to be a North American phenomenon.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 8:54 AM on October 10, 2005

I do not understand why otherwise intelligent people would choose to use harsh chemical detergents on their bodies on a daily basis. Do you honestly not understand what shampoo is? Do you honestly not understand that your body must compensate for the damage you do?

Why on earth do you choose to be so unhealthy?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 AM on October 10, 2005

Because my friends are civilized people and shun me if I stink.
posted by kindall at 10:38 AM on October 10, 2005

From what I understand (which may be complete hooey), washing your hair with a detergent-based shampoo causes your scalp to overproduce oils, and then you have to kind of train your hair out of overproducing them, by cutting out shampooing gradually. Then your hair becomes kind of self-cleaning.

When I first started using No-Poo, I used it every day, and then every other day, continuing to gradually cut it down until now, when I only use it every couple of weeks. My hair is not oily, stinky, or itchy. I give my scalp a nice massage every day in the shower while I rinse it out with water, and I use a silicone-free conditioner daily. Silicone-free conditioners rinse completely away with water, so they don't leave any build-up on your hair. I'm pretty sure that if you tried a no-poo method with most conditioners, your hair would end up really gross.
posted by amarynth at 10:48 AM on October 10, 2005

J, I use the same cleanser as amarynth -- No Poo by Devacurl. They also make a super mild shampoo called Low Poo that many of my straight-haired friends seem to like.
posted by discokitty at 4:45 PM on October 10, 2005

I assume you're not interesting in investing $10+ a bottle in specialty shampoos...

On the contrary, I would rather invest more in a shampo; it would probably make me feel like I was at least differentiating one from another. Anyway, $10 hardly seems like a lot to spend on shampoo, unless it comes in a shot glass.
posted by bingo at 7:53 PM on October 10, 2005

posted by OmieWise at 8:45 AM on October 11, 2005

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