How often should a girl wash her hair?
November 26, 2005 1:03 PM   Subscribe

How often should a girl wash her hair?

Long, thick hair is not easy to wash, but of course it has to be done. How often do girls usually wash their hair? How often should they wash their hair?
posted by pracowity to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some relevant discussion here.

Having had long hair myself - it's getting long again now, and is very thick - my advice is pay attention to the state of your scalp. If it's happy, your hair will flourish.
posted by zadcat at 1:06 PM on November 26, 2005

Why do you want to know?

When it comes to hair, I don't know that there are too many "shoulds". You should wash it often enough so that it doesn't smell. Or look greasy. When I had long, thick hair, that was usually about every 36 hours. But I washed every other day.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:07 PM on November 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Wouldn't this completely depend on your hair type and/or lifestyle? I go to the gym for an hour in the morning and another hour in the evening. Two showers, two hair washings every single day. All sorts of people tell me how horrible this is for my scalp, but I haven't had any problems. I imagine oily hair needs to be washed more frequently than brittle/processed hair, etc.
posted by makonan at 1:13 PM on November 26, 2005

Yeah, it's really a matter for your hair type, your skin health, your lifestyle and how active you are.

I have super short hair in great condition and I usually wash everyday, just as a matter of course. But I could easily go 2-3 without an issue assuming I am not hanging out in a smokey place.

When I'm working out regularly I feel like I have to wash it daily.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:23 PM on November 26, 2005

It depends, but in general the dryer your hair/scalp the less you probably need to shampoo it (just condition religiously). However, lifestyle can cause you to need to shampoo more or less. Did you just go running? Shampoo more. Do you stay inside an air conditioned room all day without shedding a drop of sweat? Shampoo less.

I live in south Florida and am fairly active (read: I sweat like a hog), so I occasionally shampoo twice a day. Maybe its rough on my scalp, but I've never seen any ill effects. I think blow drying is far more damaging than shampooing, so if you are trying to protect your hair, just shampoo as often as you like but air-dry more often.
posted by gatorae at 1:23 PM on November 26, 2005

Probably more often than Mick Jagger's ex, Jerry Hall.

" Former model Jerry Hall is almost as famous for her waist-length blonde locks as for her 21-year relationship with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. But this Texas-born mother of four, 46, has a surprising trick for keeping her tresses terrific -- she sometimes goes a month without washing her hair, PEOPLE noted in May 2000. It seems Hall believes that washing isn't very good for it. And who's going to argue with a woman who has graced more than 100 magazine covers?"
posted by jeanmari at 1:26 PM on November 26, 2005

A lot depends on how curly and how oily your hair gets.

Curly hair needs less washing than straight.

Sometimes if you have really oily hair cutting back on washing can cause your scalp to produce less oil -- but other times you'll just end up with a really greasy head. Everyone is different.

After discoverying the recommendations on, I went for a month without using any products in my hair. I massaged my scalp under hot water in the shower every day, then combed. My hair wasn't smelly or greasy at all, but it was kind of limp.

Now I'm back to washing every other day. I have curly hair, but it's not all that long or thick so washing isn't much of a chore. Also, since I can't really brush my curls when they're dry, and just use a comb when they're wet, I kind of have to wash just to keep it from getting too tangled.

My mom has a friend with long thick hair who washes once or twice a week and deep conditions once a week. She is able to brush her hair when dry, though, which keeps it from tangling.

What all these anedotes add up to: There's no one right answer. It's OK to wash only once a week -- or less -- if it makes your life easier and if your hair doesn't get greasy or smelly. The best way to find your own hair washing rhythm is to experiment with your own hair.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:28 PM on November 26, 2005

Being attractive is the most important thing there is
If you wanna catch the biggest fish in your pond
You have to be as attractive as possible
Make sure to keep your hair spotless and clean
Wash it at least every two weeks
Once every two weeks
posted by justkevin at 1:58 PM on November 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't understand the question. Is girls' long hair supposed to be different from boys' long hair?

If I don't wash my (boy's) long hair every day or two, it visibly changes color. Fine if I'm not seeing people I know, but icky if I am. My wife (a girl) can go much longer, since her hair is already black, though she rarely goes longer than four days.

Yes, I do understand the question; I am just dumbfounded that in this day and age the "girls" tag, and word, was needlessly added to this question.
posted by Aknaton at 2:17 PM on November 26, 2005

This really is utterly subjective. You should wash as often as you feel you need it, there aren't any rules or "shoulds" because everyone's hair type, activity level, scalp condition and so on varies wildly. Incidently, your profile says you're male. So are you asking on behalf of a female, or because you want to support a theory/side of a discussion?

For what it's worth: I use shampoo about every two to three days, sometimes more often. Conditioner definitely every two days at most because my hair holds moisture just fine on its own. I use very simple shampoos, and no styling products.
Me: Straight hair, mid-way down my back, medium thickness, British Isles/Greek descent.
posted by nelleish at 2:30 PM on November 26, 2005

Actually, Aknaton, sebum production is sort of different where (post-pubescent) girls and boys are concerned; it's a secondary sex characteristic.

Here's a link to an abstract about a mouse study that tried to figure out why; the fulltext, which I can't link to, started out by saying "It is well known" that males produce more sebum than females. The study points out that there's a lot of nuclear-localized androgen receptor in the sebaceous glands of males and not females, which suggests that the androgen receptor is affecting DNA transcription there.

Since it's sebum that greases up hair and makes it attract dirt; and since there are plenty of social stereotypes about the way girls are supposed to smell and look and feel; it makes sense that a girl would want to specify she wants girl-oriented advice.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:31 PM on November 26, 2005

< derail>
Thanks for the info, ikkyu2. And while you're quite right that
it makes sense that a girl would want to specify she wants girl-oriented advice
it leaves us to ponder whether pracowity, boy, is asking on behalf of a girl.

Q. Why do girls wear makeup and perfume?
A. Because they're ugly and they smell.

< /derail>
posted by Aknaton at 3:05 PM on November 26, 2005

I have long thick dry curly hair, that I also color so I rarely shampoo it, maybe once a week or so. I just rub some condiitoner in, comb it out, rinse and go. I do this at the gym too and it works fine. When I washed it a lot more often it was a lot frizzier and harder to handle.

I'd probably do even less but my scalp gets dry and itchy if I don't use anthing. Yep, I condition my head. Weird, I know.
posted by fshgrl at 4:00 PM on November 26, 2005

I should think the number one factor in maintaining healthy, happy, long hair is simply this: the quality of your brushing. If one were using a natural-bristle brush and doing the requisite "100 strokes a night", you'd be distributing that natural, conditioning, scalp-oil down the length of the hair shaft.

A good brushing will also remove a lot of dust, dirt, and dandruff from your hair, further lessening the need to wash it.

Shampooing will remove the oil from your hair and scalp. Your scalp needs oil. Without it, it will be dreadfully unhealthy. (Your hair needs oils, too, but it's not a health issue; hair is dead.)

Your scalp will make more oil in reaction to having been stripped of its oils. This can lead to a nasty cycle, where the scalp kicks into overproduction because some jerk keeps taking its oil away. Oh noes!

I think Jerry Hall is onto something.

The ultimate answer is probably somewhere between Hall's once-a-month and the shampoo industry's once-a-day.

Dammit, now I'm going to have to purchase a natural-bristle brush and see whether my head likes it!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:33 PM on November 26, 2005

I have pretty much the same hair as fshgrl, and I also wash once a week under optimum conditions. Sometimes I use a hair product that's fairly greasy, and that stuff is like a time bomb that goes off after 36 hours, giving me a giant pile of frizz on my head until I wash it out.

I can't just condition my hair, though, because my scalp needs the washing once my hair gets wet. Even getting caught in the rain makes my scalp itch.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:34 PM on November 26, 2005

Lyn- my scalp gets itchy too but I always thought it was a dry skin thing, rather than a "needs to be shampooed" thing. Interesting. As an aside, I think brushing is probably very good for your hair but pretty much out of the question if it's curly, unless you want a giant 'fro.
posted by fshgrl at 5:17 PM on November 26, 2005

My hair is very thick and has a natural coil pattern. The detergents in shampoo dry out my hair and leave me with a mess of knots and frizz so I do a conditioner wash (which is different than just conditioning) every couple of days.

I know that different hair types can also use a light conditioner instead of shampoos. The most important thing is that you periodically stimulate the scalp, make sure that you are using a something that will remove hair-styling product buildup and be careful not to strip your hair of important oils. It's up to you to figure out what works best for your hair, usually through trial and error. You can read more about the 'no poo' method here.
posted by nuala at 5:37 PM on November 26, 2005

Pin-straight, light brown, fine but not thin hair - I wash (and condition) my entire head once every three or four days, and use a little bit of shampoo on just my bangs and the scalp around my part most days that I need to be presentable. This keeps me from looking like a greaseball, but also keeps my hair and scalp from drying out in the cold, dry winters. Although I do this in the summer, too. I make sure to use a really gentle shampoo, and moisturizing conditioner, too, which keeps everything soft and healthy.
posted by jennyb at 7:43 PM on November 26, 2005

Okay--someone here with fine, straight hair that is shoulder length. I cannot go more than 24-36 hrs. without a wash. I have very oily skin (and scalp). When I manage to make it to 36 hrs., my hair tangles and knots. (FWIW Caucasian female).
posted by 6:1 at 1:48 AM on November 27, 2005

When I had long hair I washed it between two and three times a week. Always after my two weekly workouts (Monday and Thursday), beyond that it was dependent upon other things; weather, was I going to a party? had I styled my hair with something (wax, spray, gel)? I have very thick and wavy hair which is tends to become greasy, but washing it every day makes the hair dry and the scalp even more greasy.

Some time ago I got fed up with my hair, it took forever to wash and dry and I kept finding long, dark hairs everywhere, so I cut it short. I still don't wash it more than about three times a week. I use a very mild shampoo, but no conditioner since that makes my hair heavy and limp which means I wash it more often.
posted by mummimamma at 2:39 AM on November 27, 2005

My hair goes oily after 24 hours, period, so I wash every day. If you need to wash daily, then air dry sometimes rather than blow dry (I do this on the weekends a lot if there is no reason to go to the trouble of blow drying it). My hair is long (almost to my waist), no color/chemicals, and fine.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:39 AM on November 27, 2005

I too have greasy hair, and have always had people tell me that it would stop being so greasy if I stopped washing it so often. I asked my Mum, who's both a hairdresser and also has greasy hair, about this, and she said that this is only true if your hair is normally neither especially greasy or dry, and if the over-washing is over-stimulating the hair follicles - thereby by cutting down on the washing, your hair will settle down to its 'normal' state. If you're like me, and your hair and skin are naturally oily, then the not shampooing isn't going to do a blind bit of good except that your head will get really really disgusting - it's not going to magically stop being oily. Believe me, I put this to the test after spinal surgery where I couldn't wash my hair without much assistance, and even then only a few weeks post-op: my hair didn't even itself out, it was just an oily mess. Moral of the story - YMMV, and it depends very much on your natural hair type.
posted by kitschbitch at 5:33 AM on November 28, 2005

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