How often should a guy wash his hair?
April 14, 2006 1:28 AM   Subscribe

How often should a guy wash his hair?

My friend says that a male shampooing and conditioning once a day is excessive. Is she correct? I believe my hair is as normal as it comes. Um, and this didn't help.
posted by sjvilla79 to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I never use shampoo or conditioner. Just rinse in the shower and let those natural oils do the business.
posted by brautigan at 1:53 AM on April 14, 2006

I'm a guy and I shampoo everyday. When I don't my hair is noticeably oilier.

I feel like the answer here will be a big fat "it depends." But I don't think it's excessive.
posted by epugachev at 1:55 AM on April 14, 2006

Yep, depends. Sometimes I can get away with not washing for 2 days, but thats rare.
posted by a. at 2:10 AM on April 14, 2006

Depends on the person. I have dry hair. Oily hair isn't a problem for me. If I washed my hair everyday it would be like straw. I don't have to wash mine but once every 4-7 days.

But I've known others that have hair so oily they could wash their hair twice a day. So the answer is "it depends".
posted by justgary at 2:43 AM on April 14, 2006

I wash mine daily, but that's probably based on old habit. I used to have oily hair, but with age, it has turned dry.

None the less, I find that, without washing, it won't behave to my satisfaction. I've grown to suspect the hot water just relaxes it for combing.
posted by Goofyy at 2:59 AM on April 14, 2006

I personally feel disgusting if I don't wash my hair every single day. Just rinsing is definitely not enough. But that could easily be a matter of conditioning (the social kind, how I was raised). However, I could easily imagine that such frequent shampooing could be damaging my scalp.
posted by nightchrome at 3:03 AM on April 14, 2006

As ever wikipedia has some information.

Several people have told me something along the lines of "if you don't wash your hair with shampoo it will eventually get into a balanced state where the natural hair oils will look after its conditioning" - along the lines of what brautigan suggests. My attempts to try this out were always accompanied by itchy, stinky hair and I gave up. Would be interested in knowing any further info about this however.
posted by rongorongo at 3:16 AM on April 14, 2006

Does your friend who thinks it's excessive have a problem with your hair (like, does she think it's too oily-looking, too dry-looking, or something), or does she just think you're doing it wrong? If your hair and scalp are actually okay, not flaking or breaking or otherwise suffering ill effects from being washed every day, and you don't mind spending so much more on shampoo and conditioner than you would if you used 'em less frequently, then there's no reason to be concerned.
posted by Gator at 3:39 AM on April 14, 2006

Uh.. why would guy-hair require a different maintenance regime than girl-hair?

That said, from what I've read, shampoo mainly benefits the scalp, while conditioner treats the hair.. GQ might say otherwise, but I don't see why you shouldn't just shampoo when you feel like it - meaning, when you run your fingers through your hair, it feels like you should shampoo. And if you like shampooing daily, just ignore your friend - different hair, different strokes and all.
posted by unmake at 3:58 AM on April 14, 2006

From what I gather, shampooing too often is as bad as not enough. I'd suggest washing and then leaving it a day or two, or just washing it when it needs it.

Apparently hair is at it's worst just after being washed, and is at it's best a day or two after. Whilst this is certainly the case with my hair, it's also about when it starts getting oily, too.
posted by iamcrispy at 4:11 AM on April 14, 2006

I used to shampoo everyday. Then my g/f told that because I have thin hair (bald father, and probably going bald myself someday - I'm 29), I should not harm them by doing it that often. I switched to once every other day.

Three days later, my mother, who didn't know about this, said my hair looked great. So there. YMMV.

Every three day is not enough for me though, 'cos they get oily and everything. Never tried just rinsing them, though.
posted by XiBe at 4:48 AM on April 14, 2006

We discussed this issue previously. Based upon that I tried a shampoo lacking sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Something from Aubrey. I have very fine hair so just rinsing is not an option. That might work if you have powerful curls. It leaves mine looking quite limp. The Aubrey shampoo seems pretty nice. I have been using it for several weeks now and my hair is in great shape.

Most people use far too much shampoo. With regular shampoo a dollop the size of a pea was sufficient for me. Never repeat. The Aubrey is less potent and I need a little bigger dollop.
posted by caddis at 4:59 AM on April 14, 2006

The usual explanation for the "I tried that and my hair was icky!" crowd is that you're scalp hasn't had enough time to adjust back to its normal state. Shampoo strips away grime, but it also strips away natural oils, so your head is overcompensating. This isn't to say you shouldn't wash your hair, but that you should just use water instead of chemical stripper shampoo.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:09 AM on April 14, 2006

Every salon friend I know, and even those I didn't know, said this to me when I asked them the exact question.

"Three days dirt don't hurt."

I've noticed that if I go three days without washing my hair (I get in the shower and wet it still) that my hair actually feels just fine, perhaps better than washing every day. But most importantly for me was that it was easier to manage.

Also, I have saved so much money on shampoo and conditioner in the last year or two since I've started this that it's definitely worth a try in my opinion.
posted by freudianslipper at 5:40 AM on April 14, 2006

I'm in the same boat as brautigan. I haven't washed my hair with shampoo since this time last year, but rinse it thoroughly with scalding hot water at least once a day. Given my level of activity (triathalete and regular b-baller) I was very much expecting to end up with a sodden tangle of oily twigs, but after an initial period of mild greasiness about 3 weeks in, everything has reached a state of pleasant, attractive, and cleanly balance.

However, I swim regularly, and use a small amount of conditioner after each swim to counteract the intense drying and stiffening of the chlorine.

I couldn't be happier with the way things have turned out. When I was washing my (at the time, shoulder length) hair daily in high school, it was always a dry, fluffy, formless mess, and never really looked good. Later, in college, I cut it all off, and eased up on my washing regimen. It was then that I noticed what others have mentioned, that 3-5 days after shampoo was when it looked its best. It's at chin length again now, and, now that I don't use shampoo at all, maintains that sweet 3-5 day look all the time. It's like I cracked some kind of code.

FWIW, I have very thick, fairly curly hair, and it was my specific hair type that elicited several recommendations that I try to avoid shampoo.
posted by saladin at 6:03 AM on April 14, 2006

I have to wash every day. It looks and feels disgusting if I don't.

In reality, it often gets washed twice a day (once in the morning, and once after the gym).

I don't condition every day. I do that whenever it feels like it'd be a good thing. (Usually two or three times a week).
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:10 AM on April 14, 2006

I used to shampoo thoroughly once daily. I've started just patting it down with a hand-soap lather every day. Ironically, as soon as I stopped washing my hair with shampoo, several people made comments like, "Hey! Looks like you washed your hair for once!" Go figure.
posted by Evstar at 6:44 AM on April 14, 2006

For those who don't shampoo, do you use soap on your body?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:51 AM on April 14, 2006

I shampoo every time I take a shower. Usually this is once a day but it could be twice. I use a small amount of shampoo, lather up and then let it sit there without any scrubbing until the final rinse. I never repeat.
posted by Carbolic at 7:16 AM on April 14, 2006

Lance Arthur wrote a bit about hair a while back. It was the first time I heard that shampoo was for scalps, not hair.
posted by mathowie at 7:22 AM on April 14, 2006

For those people who say their hair gets too oily if they don't shampoo every day, that's a whole chicken-and-egg situation you're in, in my opinion.

Your body's trying to produce enough natural oil to look after your hair and you keep washing it away, so it tries harder.

For the record, I almost never use shampoo unless my hair is specifically dirty as in, working in unusually dusty conditions or something. Hot water in the shower every day is all.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:25 AM on April 14, 2006

I find I'm more likely to develop acne if I go more than one day without shampooing.
posted by gramcracker at 7:27 AM on April 14, 2006

I agree with gramcracker. Even if the bacon lard hair will reach an equilibrium, when its in the incredibly greasy state, my face turns 14 all over again,
posted by geoff. at 7:29 AM on April 14, 2006

I rinse a couple of times a day usually (I usually take a shower in the AM to freshen myself for the day, and a shower at night to get the skin oils off of me before I go to bed, as I'm allergic to my own skin) and I *always* rinse my hair. I wash with either regular shampoo or neutrogenia t-sal, depending on how dandruffy I am, when my hair doesn't feel clean after the rinse.
posted by SpecialK at 7:30 AM on April 14, 2006

My hair is thinning. I find that if I shampoo it and keep it clean it has more body and the thinning is far less noticeable (no scalp shows). When my hair gets a little oily (or wet) it tends to get "clumpier" and scalp will show. So I shampoo everyday.

I also run everyday, so once I get it drenched in sweat you can bet I will scrub it.
posted by sourwookie at 7:45 AM on April 14, 2006

On the sense of smell.....
Have you ever smelled a bird? Grab the nearest parakeet you can find and actually smell him. It isn't the best smell, and it is what your head smells like after a few days of not washing it. This doesn't need to include shampoo, but a nice hot rinse every day will keep anyone smelling your head from wanting to gag.

I also agree that it is all about how your scalp feels (and smells)...let this be your guide.
posted by haplesschild at 7:46 AM on April 14, 2006

and it is what your head smells like after a few days of not washing it. This doesn't need to include shampoo

So we're calling letting the shower fall down on your head washing? O.k. I change my answer. I wash my hair everyday, sometimes twice.

With shampoo? Once or twice a week, and it smells wonderful.
posted by justgary at 8:25 AM on April 14, 2006

Another "it depends" - When I wore my hair long, I'd rinse everyday in the shower but only shampoo once a week. I had flowing auburn curls that were the envy of all my female friends ;-)

If I shampooed any more frequently, it was like straw.

Now that it's salt and pepper, I keep it close-cropped, and shampoo every day.
posted by jalexei at 8:37 AM on April 14, 2006

Do none of you put any styling product in your hair? If I don't wash the styling paste out of my hair at least every couple days I won't be able to do anything with it at all.

(And that's the difference between short and long hair washing schedules, IMO.)
posted by mendel at 8:53 AM on April 14, 2006

I wash my hair once every two months or so. I am not oily. My hair looks a lot better after a week of not washing and there have never been any complaints about smell or feel or anything like that. The nice thing, mendel, is that the oils become the styling product. And not in a gross way. I think after three months of not washing I get a little itch and then I wash it. For instance, yesterday I washed it and it is looking no good today.
posted by Aghast. at 9:05 AM on April 14, 2006

I shampoo two, maybe three times a week but rinse nearly every day. I have thick hair (the opposite of thinning) but each hair is exceedingly fine. If I don't shampoo I need to use product to keep it from looking like Lego hair and if I use product I have to use shampoo. Thus, I just skip the product and shampoo every few days. I wear my hair longish (think Sgt. Pepper era Lennon) which facilitates this schedule. When I wear a flat top it requires daily shampooing.

Digressive story: back in my D&D-obsessed middle school days I went about a year without shampooing but did the daily rinse thing. One day some kids mocked my stringy hair in front of the girl that drove me up a personal tree so I washed it that night. The next day I was subjected to further ridicule about washing up for my special lady which more or less had me wishing to be swallowed by the earth.

The point being, if you've got fine hair, it needs occaisional shampoo. That, and Michelle Jones was a total fox.
posted by Fezboy! at 9:40 AM on April 14, 2006

I stopped washing my hair a couple of months ago, and started rinsing it with hot water in the shower only. Since then, my hair has developed a sort of Norwegian white-boy 'fro, where it stands out on end and looks fabulous, according to everyone who's been complementing me.

It doesn't really feel different than when I was washing it, to be honest. My scalp doesn't itch, my hair doesn't feel oily, I have no acne outbreak. etc.

Strangely, though, my hair is nearly 2 inches long, and honestly sticks straight out. All I do is dry it with a towel, and voila!

I'm not committed to it, but the fact that I get a lot of complements on it has made me consider that I did the right thing. YMMV.
posted by rocketman at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2006

For me, it tends to be seasonal. During the summer, I need to wash every day or so, otherwise my scalp gets really itchy. During the winter, I can go a lot longer before it starts to itch, sometimes up to 4 days.

Don't know quite why that is.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:32 AM on April 14, 2006

Don't know quite why that is.
wouldn't that be sweat?

my cuz was really granola for a while & tried the no shampoo thing, and eventually her natural oils or whatever normalized, but her hair was dry & strawlike, and she had to brush it constantly to keep it from tangling. Eventually she started using hair products again. may be different with shorter hair. gender makes no diff, but being short-haired may allow you more personal choice on the matter. When I had short hair I washed it every day but with less product.
posted by mdn at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2006

I think it should depend on what sort of environment you're in. If you're running around NYC or London, you need to wash it every day or two. If you're sedentary, then washing it once every four or five days would be just as good.
posted by wackybrit at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2006

I think it depends on an number of things, including the length of your hair. I've got a #2 buzz (2nd smallest filter on the clippers) and only have to rub a soap bar over it and it's squeaky clean (and it really does squeak) ;-P
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:36 PM on April 14, 2006

Very few people need to shampoo every day (I haven't used shampoo in about 3 years.) I use conditioner, water and friction with my finger tips to clean my scalp, and conditioner to clean my hair. I massage my scalp with just my fingertips and water most days, and massage it with conditioner two or three times a week. I don't get greasy, ever - my hair is soft, shiny and smells nice, if I do say so myself. I've got curly hair, so I tend toward dryness, and caring for my hair this way has done wonders.

If you're not comfortable with the amount of shampoo you are using (it is a chemical stripper, like dishwashing liquid), try using your fingertips to massage your scalp while in you are in the shower, loosening any dirt and oil and rinsing it away. You might overproduce oil for two to three weeks or so, but everything will even out. If you feel like you can't kick the shampoo habit, there are a number of shampoos on the market that are sulfate-free. These are much less harsh and damaging than most shampoos. You could also try using Castile soap (something like Dr. Bronners soaps are widely available) as a less harsh alternative.
posted by discokitty at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2006

DieHipsterDie - In answer, yeah, I wash with Khiels Pour Homme Shower Gel every day. I just find that using shampoo (and i've tried loads) leaves my hair an big fluffy mess, even with conditioner. My hair is short, thick and cut fairly unkempt. I just rinse thoroughly in the shower, towel dry and add a bit of Kiehls hair creme to give it a bit of moisture as my hair can be a little dry and it's good to go. I don't brush or comb either. My scalp was really dry and sensitive to shampoos and my friend who cuts my hair (and a bunch of beautiful people at burberry) said just give the products a break. She was right. I only ever wash my hair after a night in a smelly/smoky environment, then i use a tiny bit of Lavera Tea tree shampoo to clean. All this sound very fussy but basically I just rinse n go :)
posted by brautigan at 2:07 PM on April 14, 2006

DieHipsterDie - Ditto brautigan, except my hair is about chin-length, and I use Kiehl's Grapefruit Body Cleanser.
posted by saladin at 4:31 PM on April 14, 2006

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