Shampooing Every Time You Shower? It May Be Too Much

Shampooing every day isn’t only wasteful, it can also harm your hair, according to NPR. Back in the olden days, when waterfalls passed for high-pressure showers, people would shampoo only once a month. That wasn’t enough, but if you shampoo more than three times a week, you’re actually making your hair oilier because your glands need to work overtime to replace the natural oils you’re washing away.

“If you wash your hair every day, you’re removing the sebum,” explains Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at Columbia University. “Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil,” she says.

She recommends that patients wash their hair no more than two or three times a week.

There’s also a lot of variation among hair types. African-Americans and people with curly hair can go even longer between washes compared to folks with straight hair.

Of course, you shouldn’t misread this as an invitation to shop showering. That’s still good and healthy. Just cut back on the shampoo.

When It Comes To Shampoo, Less Is More
(Photo: Yogi)


Edit Your Comment

  1. aheggs says:

    My brother used to be a part of the “No Poo” movement. Stupid hippies.

  2. WEGGLES90 says:

    I imagine you’d have to “ween” your self off of shampoo, as going from 7 times a week to 3 all of a sudden will still have your glands “working over time” until they adapt.

    • sporks says:

      @WEGGLES90: Yep. It’s kind of gross at first but worth it in the end. Too much shampoo/conditioner is bad for your hair and can lead to buildup on the hair. When I was dying my hair all sorts of weird colors, I cut back to shampooing once a week. I wash my hair 1-2 times a week now and most people wouldn’t know the difference.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @WEGGLES90: Took about a week, week-and-a-half for my hair to adjust when I went “cold turkey” and made the switch all at once. Felt kinda gross a couple days, but DEFINITELY worth it.

      • Pink Puppet says:

        @WEGGLES90: It took me about two weeks when I made the switch out of sheer necessity. (I got tired of scrubbing down 2+ feet of hair every morning!) And now? It is totally wonderful.

        • ohenry says:

          @Pink Puppet: I’m new to this concept. So, do you still give your hair a good rinse in the mornings, simply sans shampoo? Or do you avoid scrubbing your head at all for a bit?

  3. HankScorpio says:

    There is a reason hippies are generally referred to as “filthy, dirty hippies”.

    • Piemonkey says:

      @HankScorpio: Someone didn’t read the article.

      • HankScorpio says:

        @Piemonkey: I read the article. Doesn’t change the way I feel about hippies. I don’t think YOU read the article, because from what I can tell, it is chock full of hippie goodness.

        • hippybear says:

          @HankScorpio: sounds to me like someone is mistaking “lazy about personal hygiene” with “believing in the concepts of universal love and kindness as a positive world-changing force”. I’m pretty certain that’s a false syllogism.

  4. Imperialist says:

    Something I’ve heard of is shampoo and hair loss has to do with how most shampoos containing sodium lauryl sulfate. This is something added to shampoos that make lather and bubbles.

    • Necoras says:

      @Imperialist: It’s also in most toothpastes. Can cause Canker sores.

      • MightyCow says:

        This seems like 95% urban legend. Most people in America wash their hair several times a week and brush their teeth at least once a day, and we aren’t all bald and covered with cancer sores.

        Evidence proves that neither of these possibilities occur very often.

  5. edwardso says:

    I have superfine hair so if I go a day without washing it’s very noticeable. I’d love to wash less but while that may have flow when I worked for Wild Oats it really doesn’t fly in the office enviroment

    lots of hair posts on consumerist lately

    • Anonymous says:

      @edwardso: I also have very fine hair, and it’s very noticeable if I don’t shampoo every day. I once went to the barber’s before washing my hair, and he told me it was time to change the oil in my hair. My hair is thinner than it used to be, but there is not sign of baldness, and I’m 66.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @edwardso: Same here. My hair is so fine that it is an absolute mess when I wake up in the morning. The only way to deal with it is to wash it. If I take a shower and only wet it down then it looks lousy. When it dries it still looks matted down. The only way to make it look decent is to shampoo it.

    • BigPapaCherry says:

      @edwardso: Thirded. My hair sticks out at all angles when I wake up in the morning due to the superfine-ness. Wetting and combing just makes it look flat, so shampoo is the only way to go. Though, I think I could cut back on the amount of shampoo I use.

    • rockergal says:

      my hair is super fine also although I only need to shampoo twice a week. and nobody would know. then again I grew up in a boarding school where we were allowed two hot showers a week (the rest of the week you had to wash with cold water) so my hair is used to it.

      • Leksi Wit says:

        @rockergal: I am also part of the fine, straight hair club! I am going to take another poster’s suggestion (down below, Marsneedsrabbits), and try SLS/LS-free shampoo that is organic such as Burt’s Bees. Perhaps if the shampoo is less abrasive and I use it sparingly, then it won’t take off as much of my natural oil/sebum as say, Head and Shoulders (which I currently use).

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:


      lots of hair posts on consumerist lately

      i was thinking either “we just had this story last week” or “i just read this on lifehacker last week”

    • TheKel says:

      @edwardso: Also jumping on the fine hair bandwagon. If I ever showed up to work without washing my hair I’d be sent home. Actually, maybe I will try it.

    • ideagirl says:

      @edwardso: I really think it varies by person as well as surrondings. I go by how my hair looks and feels. In the winter every two days is plenty (though I do rinse it with water). In the summer, I definitely need to shampoo every day.

      i tried the no poo route twenty years ago, YUCK. Will never make that mistake again.

    • AlxFherMana says:

      @edwardso: I too have very fine hair…it is also curly so even though the post says I can “go even longer” without washing my hair…that’s not really ideal for me. My hair looks like a bird’s nest if I go even one day without washing it (not to mention I feel uncomfy and smelly..)so I guess that sucks for my…sebum?…

    • SanDiegoDude says:

      @edwardso: Same here. I have to shampoo daily, else I can “mold” my hair into any shape I want, plus it feels dingy. My fiancee only has to shampoo 3 times a week, but I can’t get away with it. Doesn’t help that I run a lot too, sweaty/oily hair is gross!

  6. prodpoke says:

    i wash my hair about 2-3 times a week, and here everyone thought i had bad hygiene. :333

    • SegamanXero says:

      @prodpoke: I wash my hair with shampoo only once a week. But I take a shower every day, mostly rinse my hair under the water when I don’t wash with shampoo.

      Oddly enough, I hate when my hair comes out after a shampooing, its all fluffy and goes everywhere. I basicly have a bad hair day. When I just rinse it’s way more manageable and doesn’t go everywhere.

      oh yea I’m a guy with long hair, if you didn’t get that from the text above…

      • JPropaganda says:

        @SegamanXero: Same here. My jewfro looks terrible when I shampoo, but the day AFTER shampoo? Ballin.

      • Hyman Decent says:

        @SegamanXero: My long, wavy hair is the same way. I usually resort to wearing a baseball cap on the day I shampoo my scalp and the day after that. I should get some bandannas and wear one of those instead. (Obviously, neither of those is against the dress code at my workplace.) Or, maybe I should find some “product” to put in my hair on those days that can be rinsed out without shampoo.

        The last time I went to a strip club (about two months ago), I hadn’t shampooed my scalp in about two weeks. I thought my hair felt a bit too oily, but towards closing time, one of the dancers sat behind me and ran her fingers through it for like ten minutes.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @prodpoke: I have very coarse, curly hair and I shampoo pretty rarely by current standards. Everyone comments on how healthy my hair is. :)

      I’m careful to clean my SCALP every day, and if I do something that actually gets my hair dirty (backwoods hiking!) I shampoo right away. But cleaning your scalp really cuts back on the whole “dirty hippie” aspect.

      • Your friends can call you HoJu! says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): How do you clean your scalp without cleaning your hair?

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @Your friends can call you HoJu!: Oh, some of the hair gets gotten too. You use a little soap or a little shampoo, whatever you like, and you scrub the scalp with the pads of your fingers, all over. Some people use conditioner to do it. If you haven’t done anything particularly dirty- or sweaty-making, you can do it just with water. What’s really getting the scalp clean here is friction and water.

          The hair oils are sterile when they exit your oil glands and not inherently icky; one of the things that makes your hair icky when unwashed is the accumulation of dead skin and dirt and product and whatnot that sits on your scalp, and a lot of people don’t get that area even when they shampoo (since they focus on shampooing the hair itself).

          It does dry the roots of my hair out a bit since the hair roots do get the soap or watered-down baby shampoo I use, but the most oil is at the roots anyway, so it works out okay, and it lets me shampoo less often while not getting gross.

          Slightly less practical for those with very short hair (mine’s about shoulder-blade-length when wet), but by focusing on the scalp you can mostly clean that and just get the hair incidentally.

  7. edwardso says:

    @imperialist: now that I think about it I lose siginificantly less hair now that I use SLS free shampoo

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @edwardso: so, any brands in particular that are LS or SLS free?

      • marsneedsrabbits says:


        I used the pomegranate shampoo made by Burt’s Bees or Nature’s Gate Organic Fruit Blend Asian Pear.
        If you google it, there are at least a few dozen on the market.

        I’ve been growing my hair out for years, and stopped SLS and ‘cones (silicones), which seems to have helped a lot. I went from ‘never past my shoulders’ to ‘down to my waist’ in a few years.

        YMMV, of course.

    • cmdrsass says:

      @edwardso: There is no scientific link between SLS and hair loss. It’s a myth.

  8. tofupuppy says:

    i wash my hair only every 4 days or more. it’s very short though, don’t know if that makes a difference. i do rinse very well and scrub with plain water at every shower.

  9. aliasmisskat says:

    if you’re looking to make the transition from shampooing every day to every other or even less frequently, invest in some dry shampoo, or if you’re blond, you can just use talc or baby powder. if you have dark hair, make sure to get some formulated for dark hair. i know this from experience. bumble & bumble makes one, but it’s around $30. and both sell several brands that are far cheaper.

    just a little sprinkled on your head and brushed through the hair will soak up the oil on the shaft, making your hair look less gross but still allowing your scalp to produce oil.

    this trick also cuts down on styling time, allowing much needed sleep in time for those of us who are night owls.

    • JPropaganda says:

      @aliasmisskat: Brush? Tell me more about this mysterious brushing through of hair…it’s a process I certainly am not familiar with.

      • aliasmisskat says:

        @JPropaganda: not sure how to respond to that…. is he/she sarcastic or serious?

        if you have short hair, invest in a small, natural bristle brush. should cost under $10, and can be purchased in any drug store or beauty supply place like Sally. a comb will not distribute dry shampoo properly. also, a brush helps distribute the natural oil away from the scalp and all the way along the hair shaft, making it seem less oily all around.

  10. dveight says:

    How about shampooing and using conditioner!

  11. Julia789 says:

    Have they actually tested that in a clinical setting, or is it an assumption? I’m curious.

    How do the glands “know” that you’ve washed the oil away? Do they have little sensors that keep track of oil they’ve emitted, and see if it’s still in your hair and on your scalp? Wouldn’t they just consistently produce the same amount of oil day after day?

    I just don’t know about this. My hubby has really oily hair. If he goes more than a day without washing his hair it stinks like hell. Like HELL. It’s not just oil, but bacteria that live in the oil that make a funk. If he started washing his hair only a couple times a week, I’d have to divorce. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone with oily hair like his. No way he could go more than a day. It’s so bad that his pillow smells. Even after washing the pillowcases, I must have my OWN pillowcase back. His still has a faint oily head smell to it. It skeeves me out.

    I think it’s genetic, because my mother-in-law has nasty oily hair as well. Even in an advance age, when old people are supposed to have dry skin and hair. It’s gross and smells like hell. Now in the nursing home, her hair gets washed once a week, and I will tell you it has NOT leveled off her production of oil like this article says it will! Even after two years in the nursing home!

    My hair and scalp is dry. However, I start to get a funky smell after a day or two. So I wash my hair every other day. It’s long and curly and a pain to wash, so every other day works for me. But I can’t go longer than that. If I do, my husband says “Ewww, you smell like day-old-wife.”

    • Necoras says:

      @Julia789: The same is true of a dog. Washing a dog washes away their natural oils and yes, the body can sense this. That causes the dog’s skin to start producing those oils giving you the “wet dog” smell. My dogs get bathed only when they’ve been rolling in mud and they always smell great (well aside from if they’ve been eating poo).

      I wash my hair every 2-3 days, when it starts to be noticeably oily. It doesn’t stink, but it looks greasy.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Julia789: “My hubby has really oily hair. If he goes more than a day without washing his hair it stinks like hell. Like HELL. It’s not just oil, but bacteria that live in the oil that make a funk. If he started washing his hair only a couple times a week, I’d have to divorce.”

      Some people can and some people can’t. I wash my hair pretty rarely; my husband tried after I switched to washing less often and was so happy, and within two days his hair was so gross I was like, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHAMPOO!”

      My hair is notably healthier, better-looking, and easier to care for when I shampoo less often. His goes right to hell if he doesn’t shampoo daily. It’s not for everyone.

    • crazyshoes says:

      @Julia789: This all begs the question: Why did you marry someone who you find so utterly disgusting and smelly?

      It sounds a wee bit superficial to have your love for someone be contingent upon how many times they wash their hair, eh?

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    I do it daily (mild shampoo, tho) b/c I play sports often, especially swimming. And condition because, hey, I’m a California male (fill in whatever stereotypes you must).
    Between the two, I’d be hard-struck to not wash daily, I think. Suggestions?

    • JPropaganda says:

      @Trai_Dep: If you swim, your hair can be harmed even more by chlorine in water than whatever’s in your shampoo. Always shampoo/condition after swimming.

      • ceriphim says:

        @JPropaganda: Not if you swim in the ocean.

        Though that’s a whole different set of chemicals. Ever see runoff into the ocean the day after a big storm? O_O

  13. Trai_Dep says:

    I’ve always wondered this: how do people with hair weaves approach the follicle hygiene thing? I’d think shampooing with a weave would be a no-no, but the idea of that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

    • pz says:

      @Trai_Dep: They… don’t.

      I grew up around a lot of kids with hair weaves, and they would tell me they’d wash their hair once every two or three weeks.

      Little to say that sitting next to these kids in the classroom would assault your nose.

  14. aliasmisskat says:


    See above post about dry shampoo…that’s how you take care of a weave too. You can wash sewn in extensions, but not terribly often.

  15. Alex Cheng says:

    And all this time I thought I was not shampooing just because I was a cheapass…

  16. Posthaus says:

    The problem with this is just based on personal experience, everybody is different and everybody’s hair reacts differently. Factors like length, thickness and behavior (wavy, straight or curly) makes me very skeptical, or atleast super curious to how they came to this conclusion, and the specifics of how it was tested.

    There’s also one more thing, what about your life? Do you spend most of days indoors, owrking light in controlled climates,or are you outside, in the wind, heat, cold, whatever. I’m in the latter, and I know from experience I can’t go a day without feeling dirty and my hair being oily, not matter what I do to my hair or much or little it’s handled.

    • Leksi Wit says:

      @Posthaus: I agree, I always have to shower and wash my hair after I work out. So on work out days, I don’t shower in the morning, but rather in the afternoons when I get back from the gym.

  17. Robobot says:

    My hair is curly and dyed, so it reacts very well to minimal shampooing. (And I’m not even a dirty hippie, promise!)

    I used to shampoo regularly, but I would have to use so many other products to overcompensate for the side-effects that it got ridiculous. Two hours a night, hundreds of dollars of products, and the only thing I had to show for it was dull, oily hair that was weighed down by all the chemicals. I shampoo 2-4 times a week now and use a leave-in conditioner, nothing more. My hair actually looks healthier and cleaner. As an added bonus, I can now use semi-permanent hair dye instead of permanent. Maybe it’s not for everyone’s tastes or hair type, but I’m really glad I decided to stop shampooing so much.

  18. boomerang86 says:

    Perhaps it’s OK to simply rinse your hair every other day, then shampoo on the others?

    • 6a says:

      @boomerang86: My wife does this, just rinsing it most of the time, and shampooing maybe twice a week. She says it makes it much easier to work with. The only time she’s had problems was with really soft water.

  19. whatdoyoucare says:

    My nephew’s girlfriend went to Aveda cosmotology school. The first week of school they were told to wash their hair every other day (maximum). She passed this info on to all of the ladies in her life.

    It took about 5 weeks or so for my scalp to adjust. In that time I looked a little greasy. But now my hair is a lot more healthy. I color it every 5 weeks and I really notice a difference- much less dry.

  20. Stephanie Greer says:

    Part of the problem with shampoo isn’t so much the frequency, but the volume of shampoo used. You REALLY only need about the size of a dime, if not less, of shampoo to successfully wash your hair.

    You really only need to wash your scalp, as well, not quite so much the “rest” of the hair, as nine times out of ten, the act of rinsing the shampoo will clean the length of the hair.

    Obvious exceptions to above rule include if you’ve done something excessively sweaty or managed to get dirt in the length.

    • AlxFherMana says:

      @Stephanie Greer: :- Really? The size of a dime? I suppose if it’s only for your scalp that’s enough. I think I use the size of…half my palm…but I have lots and lots of hair…Oh who knows.

      • Leksi Wit says:

        @AlxFherMana: Ditto, but Stephanie makes a good point. Lots of good suggestions in the user comments on this article. It’s lovely to hear feedback on this topic as it’s not one typically discussed!

  21. kaycee says:

    As a few have pointed out, this doesn’t mean don’t rinse your hair with water while you shower – just don’t use shampoo every time.

    I read an article last year in a British paper about this – they challenged people to go 6 weeks without shampooing. Everyone’s hair was more oily at first and some had itchy heads, but after a couple of weeks, the people with normal to dry hair, especially shorter hair, said that their hair became soft and silky, but not greasy.

    I use a good shampoo & conditioner (Matrix Biolage Hydrating Shampoo and Finishing Rinse), though, and they actually help my hair be less dry, especially the ends. I love the way my hair smells with the products I use, too. Even my hair stylist has commented on how good it smells when he cuts it.

  22. zacwax says:

    yeah, I’m going to continue to wash my hair everyday

  23. Plates says:

    I just use regular soap!

  24. ElizabethD says:

    I’ve also read (from a dermatologist and an aesthetician) that we wash our faces too often, with soap or other cleaning agents. I try to only use (mild) soap — Dove, Pears — once a day on my face, and just use tepid water and maybe some witch hazel to clean any grime off the other time.

  25. ionerox says:

    +1 for the dry shampoo. My stylist (also Aveda trained) got me hooked on the TIGI Rockaholic dry shampoo. Works well on my very fine hair, and no one knows the difference.

  26. baquwards says:

    An employee of mine never used shampoo. He only rinsed his hair with hot water in the shower, he had awesome looking shiny hair and it never appeared greasy or smelly. He also had a shorter hair style so maybe that helped.

  27. IT-Chick says:

    I can go, at MOST 3 days. I have long curly hair that I usually straighten and can go 3 days then, but usually wet and blow dry my scalp on day 3. If I leave it curly, I have to wash it everyday because I tend to use more hairspray and hair products to keep it not frizzy.
    The 3 day non washing usually happens out of laziness of running late. If I had time, I would wash it everday because it always looks best on the first day of washing and blowdrying and straightening.

    Been doing this for many years, and I might add, IT-Chich has amazing hair. =)

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @IT-Chick: When I quit shampooing my curls so frequently, I quit having to use product to keep it from being frizzy. :)

      I’m much, much too lazy to straighten it.

      • AlxFherMana says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): I used to straighten my hair when I was in high school and burned the hell out of the hair is still recuperating, though thankfully it is nearly back to normal.

        I shampoo everyday because I’m too lazy to try and go a few days without shampooing. Plus, I just feel smelly. I spent a loooooooong time looking for products that wouldn’t make my curls all crunchy and hard and now all I use is Sunsilk cream stuff. I think my hair’s doing pretty well considering I shampoo every day…

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @AlxFherMana: “Plus, I just feel smelly.”

          There’s definitely an interesting psychological aspect to the whole thing. (I had a prof in college who actually studied the proliferation of personal care products and how successful shampoo companies have been in convincing us to feel less-than-human if we don’t shampoo daily, whereas our grandparents shampooed weekly, which is a stunningly fast cultural shift.)

          I HAVE to shampoo after I fly or take a long car drive. I can’t imagine my hair gets dirtier doing this than during my normal days, but I just FEEL disgusting until I do.

  28. IT-Chick says:

    I am also amazing at spelling my own user name wrong.
    ^ ^

  29. chese79 says:

    I buy the theory. Should I cut back on conditioner too or just shampoo?

    • Brandy Bingham says:

      @chese79: You can continue to use the conditioner on the same days you shampoo, if you want, but you may find you don’t need it as much anymore.

  30. thegirls says:


    This isn’t anything new. It’s true that excessive cleaning can cause sebum glands to work overtime or damage hair, thus creating more of the problem that you’re trying to eliminate. Shampooing fewer days is more of a rule of thumb for the average person. Some people, or circumstances, will require more than washing than most.

    For most, an easy alternative to shampooing everyday is, on the off days, to either just wet your hair while showering, or with a spray bottle, instead of shampooing. If you feel you need conditioner, use it primarily on the ends.

    The spray dry spray shampoo versions also won’t strip as much sebum as regular shampooing will. Psssssst Instant Spray Shampoo is the most common, but there are many. This or the similar type, hair powder, as suggested by aliasmisskat. Both types take some getting used to.

  31. Amy Alkon000 says:

    Once, when I was in Paris, Hillary Johnson, a friend of mine who wrote a piece on hair care for the LA Times, sent me to Leonor Greyl, who she called “the couturier of hair.” (The LAT paid for the visit, best of all.)

    Madame Greyl told me “Americans wash their hair too often.” She recommended that I wash my hair no more than once or twice a week. And also recommended that I not use shampoo that lathers. Her shampoo, Creme Moelle de Bambou is fantastic. For between shampoos if your hair is oily, there’s her Lait Lavant a la Banane, which is like putting banana juice on your hair, but gets it squeakyish.

    As an alternative to Creme Moelle, for those who are frugal, a great substitute is Buddy Wash (yes, for dogs) lavender shampoo and conditioner. You can get huge bottles of it for about $8.99 each on I use it on my dog and I use it, too. Smells great. And there are other fragrances.

  32. CFinWV says:

    My tailbone length hair gets “washed” once a week and I only really wash the scalp. If I need a refresher in between I’ll do a quick conditioner rinse in the shower with something cheap and runny like Suave that won’t build up. There’s nothing “hippie” about me, I just like having healthy hair.

  33. Stephen Williams says:

    What about people that use styling products that are tough to rinse out? I use a pomade/wax that WILL NOT come out unless I shampoo? Please don’t tell me to switch products; I’ve tried numerous ones over the decade and have found the one I like.

    • tofupuppy says:

      @Stephen Williams: i’m the same way. i rinse/scrub with plain water and then touch up with a small amount of product. since there’s already some left in your hair, you don’t need to use as much.

  34. Charmander says:

    On my last visit for a hair cut, my hair stylist also mentioned shampooing no more than 2-3x per week. She said it would take a few weeks for my hair to adjust, but my hair would end up looking better and being healthier. It’s something I haven’t tried yet, but plan to.

  35. corinthos says:

    If I don’t use any shampoo then under my bangs I will break out with acne. So no thanks to that.

  36. SJActress says:

    I have long, fine, curly hair. I absolutely HAVE to wet and condition it every day, or I can’t get a comb through it. I only shampoo it 2-3 times a week.

  37. RandaPanda says:

    It’s all dependent on the type of hair you have. For example:

    I’m white, with wavy to straight dark hair. I can usally get away with washing my hair every other day. First day, I usally wear it down and the next up in a ponytail so it doesn’t look as greasy. Then I wash.

    My boyfriend is black, and has the dark curly hair. He usually washes his hair once every week or so and just rinses it with hot water inbetween. I can always tell when he’s washed his hair because his hair is so stinkin’ soft afterwards.

    Now, I have a friend who can usally go once a week before washing her hair, but that’s usally because she has so much product in her hair that it’s insane. I also have another friend who has to wash his hair everyday because it’s so baby fine.

  38. HogwartsAlum says:

    I have long, thick, slightly wavy hair that I used to wash every day when I smoked, because I was very conscious of the smell. Even though I went outside to smoke, it still got in there.

    Now that I don’t smoke anymore (thank you, Chantix!) I don’t shampoo every day. It still needs a rinse and conditioner, or I can’t even comb it. But my haircolor (red) lasts longer now.

  39. CowboyRob says:

    Holy crap – my mom has been saying this exact thing for years and it turns out she was right! Damn, it turns out she was right about so many of these little things.

  40. karmaghost says:

    I shampoo every other shower, but any less frequently than that and my hair gets gross.

  41. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Not washing your hair every day seems bizarre if you have oily hair. I have super fine hair that gets oily quickly…I think I would rather still wash my hair every day, but just use less shampoo. I really can’t bear the thought of not having clean hair every day. Even if it actually IS clean, the fact that it doesn’t look clean bothers me.

  42. Melissa Huber says:

    My hair is very straight, very fine, and mid-back length. I color it red once a month, and I wash it maybe about every 5-10 days, depending on the season (cold weather I can usually go longer). My rule of thumb is if my scalp itches and/or my hair looks greasy, then it’s time to wash. I shampoo and use conditioner, and to keep it from looking nasty, I brush it thoroughly with a bristle brush from root to tip, to spread the oils to the ends. No products used except an occasional red colored protein glosser if it looks dry. Air dry completely or 50% blow dry then air the rest of the way. My hair stays shiny and healthy looking with all of this and I’m almost 40!
    Basically, the oils in your scalp are like the oils on a duck’s feathers; it is there to protect your hair and scalp. If you are constantly washing it away, you are washing your protection away! And, for those of you who cringe at this, the other reason is they red color. Red, because it has the largest color molecules, fades quickly. The fewer times you wash, the more true the red stays (and minimizes the times you have to use a color rinse).

  43. alilz says:

    I wash my hair about every other day. When I had really short hair I used shampoo about every third or fourth day. Because I used stuff like pomade or styling glue I’d wet my hair and scrub all the product out with my fingers. It was actually easier to style and used less product on the second and third day.

    Now that my hair is long it seems greasier and limp, but I may try rinsing it and scrubbing my scalp and see how that goes.

  44. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    There’s a great book, “Curly Girl,” that addresses the unique needs of curly and wavy and kinky hair — like shampooing less often. I think the author is Lorraine Massey. Highly recommend it.

  45. Anonymous says:

    This shampoo advice doesn’t take different hair types into account. For example, my hair gets mashed flat when I sleep and no amount of brushing will fix it. Even when I wet it thoroughly in the shower it still looks weird. I shampoo daily, but only with a small amount of shampoo.

  46. Outrun1986 says:

    This is going to depend on each individual person, the type of hair and your activity level. I happen to be one of the lucky ones who does not have to wash their hair every day, and in fact its fine even if I go 3 days. So that means 2-3 hair washes per week for me, unless I do something that gets me excessively sweaty or dirty. My hairdresser has also told me its totally unnecessary for me to wash my hair every day, and is always amazed at how healthy my hair looks.

  47. synergy says:

    I used to do all sorts of evil things to my hair including washing the life out of it. Then, thanks to my years in college I came to realize that it was better to wash my hair every other day (most of summer) or 3 days (winter). I have pin-straight hair, so using that as an excuse isn’t right. It’s been true for when I’ve had it waist length as when I’ve had it cheekbone-length as I do now. Also, when I say summer, I mean it. This is in south Texas, so you know just stepping outside gets you warmed up. I agree, though, that it’s best to rinse it every day then shampooing on other days.

    What never ceases to amaze me is when I go to get my hair cut, the hair dressers are always amazed at BEAUTIFUL and HEALTHY my hair is and I tell them I put nothing in it, then 10 minutes later try to sell me every chemical under the sun to slather on it. *rme*

  48. textilesdiva says:

    gee, I sure wish the @reply thing were working still.

  49. chocolate1234 says:

    I wash my hair every other day, but on my off days, I still wash and rinse my bangs. I just pull the rest of my hair back in a bun. It’s something to consider if you’re worried about going without washing your bangs. Your hair really will look and feel much healthier. People are always amazed when they find out I don’t wash my hair every day.

  50. chocolate1234 says:

    *I meant I pull my hair back in a bun while showering.

  51. theysaidwhat says:

    @ the poster recommending Buddy Wash:

    You can get it even cheaper at $39.95 for a gallon of the stuff. I use them for some supplements my dog needs and they have always been very reliable.

    Other pet sites might have it even cheaper. I would check as they cater to groomers.

  52. jeebussez says:

    ohhhh so this is probably why my mom told me to wash my hair every other day when i was growing up. i just started washing every day b/c i had a hard time remembering when i washed my hair.

    my brother on the other hand washes his hair about once a week. it usually looks pretty greasy.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I used to have SUPER oily hair that I washed twice a day to keep decent. After I learned that over washing was likely the cause of the problem, I weened it down to once a week over the course of a couple of months. I just use the same soap I wash my body with, no special shampoo, and rinse with water only during the showers it doesn’t get the full wash. My hair looks much better now that it did then, I don’t get split ends, and I save money since I don’t need to buy shampoo at all.

  54. EdgarAsclepius says:

    I read a report about a UK member of parliament [conservative at that] who had not washed his hair with shampoo for more than 10 years becuase some scientist said the who industry is basically a scam.

    So I tried it. After the six weeks he said it takes to adjust I was fine. I haven’t shampooed my hair for over 19 months [I wash it with water every day]. I use conditioner when I get it cut and thats it. My hair is fine – I have less dandruff than when I used shampoo. And I am not ripped off by what is basically another beauty fraud!

  55. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    Most people I talk to who have reeeeaaallly long hair know this — I started asking as I started growing my own hair long. When your hair takes 10 hours to dry, washing every day starts to look dumber and dumber!

    Anyway, yes, you do have to go through a period of adjustment, or wean yourself down to shampooing less often, but it’s not that bad. Also, it helps to switch to something less harsh than shampoo — I wash with silicone-free conditioner (conditioners also have a mild detergent in them, so if you use a lot and scrub well, they’re basically mild shampoo) or with (additive-free) bar-soap, and my hair is much happier than it ever was when I shampooed it every day.

  56. Dakiall says:

    “to shop showering”? Nobody noticed that?

  57. tangent4 says:

    Another option is to use shampoo that doesn’t strip the oils from your hair as much. I use L’Oreal Kids Shampoo, which helps me avoid that squeaky-clean effect of shampooing that dries out my hair but my hair still ends up clean and conditioned. My hair is much softer and more manageable than if I shampoo and condition separately. It’s not for everyone, but for my hair type it works great!

  58. Vanilla5 says:

    It’s not about the act of washing your hair frequently and the statement is too blanket for all people. I get the whole frugal & healthy sentiment but it can’t be applied to all folks.

    Most shampoos contain soap, which chemically is a detergent, and strips your hair of its natural oils. Then, when you use your conditioner, you have to use more to over compensate for what you just did with the shampoo. So your shampoo doesn’t necessarily need to have lots of suds to get your hair clean. This is a very common misconception.

    Just like one commenter said that he/she had super fine hair that’s oily after one day, there are also people like myself who are of mixed race and have very long, thick, and wavy (but not chemically altered) hair. This requires a specially balanced (not to be confused with expensive) “shampoo” that’s actually more conditioner than it is shampoo. And to keep from looking like a poodle caught in a windstorm, this act of cleansing must be done pretty much every day – especially because I play rugby and being dirty and sweaty is imminent and frequent.

    Sorry, but this information about not washing your hair as often can be applied to some but is really not applicable to lots of people.

  59. Julia789 says:

    @ crazyshoes (reply button not working)

    That was uncalled for, saying I am superficial!

    I was TEASING and joking about my husband’s oily hair. Yes it is gross. Yes, I tease him about it all the time. Yes, I JOKE with him about it. He teases me about things too. I love him dearly and have been married to him over 10 years, and have a beautiful child.

    You’d never date or marry someone with, say, smelly feet, or dry skin, or a silly laugh? EVERYONE has a quirk about them or something unattractive, whether it be physical or personality wise. And husbands and wives who love each other do tease and joke about each other’s quirks. You’ve never heard someone joke about his wife’s awful cooking and suggesting they eat out despite loving her dearly? Do you call that man superficial, and question why he married her?

    How insulting to suggest I should not have married my dear husband of over a decade because I tease him about hair washing and don’t like him using my pillow!

    • Anonymous says:

      A wise woman once told me, “Marry a man who has faults you can live with, because you’re going to have to!” I can’t live with a man who cheats on me, or gambles away our house and home. I could live with a man who had Greasy Scalp.

  60. fatcop says:

    If you are a man and you have hair that you can grab, it’s too long.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Strangely enough, just got the following book from my local library (great way to save ca$h BTW), Hair Rules! by A. Dickey. This is a book specifically for persons with kinky, curly or wavy hair where he also recommends that such hair types not wash their hair every day as it strips away the sebum and makes the hair dryer and more prone to breakage. He also recommends that you can rinse your hair without shampoo to make it cleaner and says that shampoo is really to clean your scalp and not your hair. Really interesting read!

  62. MrsLopsided says:

    “but if you shampoo more than three times a week, you’re actually making your hair oilier because your glands need to work overtime to replace the natural oils you’re washing away.”

    So what? Is that bad?

    And how do your glands know that your hair is missing oils? Is there a sensor at the tip of your hair?

  63. Borax-Johnson says:

    NPR said so? ’nuff said. I’ll shampoo 3-4 times a day…

  64. Marshfield says:

    sorry, if I dont’ wash my hair it looks like hell and there ain’t no fixin’ it.

    one-size-does-not-fit-all for this advice

  65. the lesser of two weevils says:

    When I was growing up I washed my hair only 2 to 3 times a week like I was told, and always wondered why I had such bad dandruff and incredibly oily hair. I found over time that if I washed it every day the dandruff and grease went away (I know, a hair person told me if I washed less that my dandruff would go away because Id have more oil. Exactly the opposite happened, I was just oilier and my scalp was worse, go figure).

  66. starbreiz says:

    Those of us with curly hair already knew this. It’s harder for curly hair to get the oil from the scalp through the hair. When I do shampoo, I use Curly Girl brand no-poo, which is cleansing conditioner.

  67. traezer says:

    I only shampoo my hair once every few weeks. I use conditioner in my hair about every three days. My hair has never looked so sleek and silky since I started doing this. My hair looked like hell back when I washed it every other day. No, my hair does not smell or look oily.

  68. HogwartsAlum says:

    synergy said:
    “What never ceases to amaze me is when I go to get my hair cut, the hair dressers are always amazed at BEAUTIFUL and HEALTHY my hair is and I tell them I put nothing in it, then 10 minutes later try to sell me every chemical under the sun to slather on it. *rme*”

    That happens to me too. I’ll go in someplace to get a trim and they’ll rave about my hair. I use drugstore products and when they ask what I use and I tell them, then they go on about “Oh, that is sooooo bad for your hair, it’ll damage it, etc. etc. Try this expensive crap blah blah blah!”

    I just laugh.

  69. Randy Treibel says:

    Nice find consumerist! Definitely an interesting post!

  70. deadspork says:

    I have what I thought was naturally oily hair. I shampoo every single day because otherwise my hair would be heavy and oily, and shiny (but not in a good way). This morning I took my shower, but left my hair unwashed (I did rinse). Once it dried, I ran some baby powder through it. It’s shiny (in a good way) and is not heavy and oily today. It did have some frizz, but I combed a bit of water through and tied it back in a half-ponytail (only the top part of my hair, with the bottom hanging down). So far, it seems okay. I’ll try it again tomorrow. Let’s see how this goes.

  71. u1itn0w2day says:

    I can see if you have dirty hair but out of habit ? . I wash it less because I’m cheap and the less chemicals on or in my body the better . If it’s dirty or there’s something on it’s washed .

    I heard the same thing with the acne medicines as well . They wind up drying out the oils too much and the body compensates with extra . I’m sure the body has similar reactions with all the crap we purposely expose it to on a daily basis .

    And as some have pointed out : the ritual of daily shampooing is perpetuated in the name of profit .

  72. u1itn0w2day says:

    Another thing I forgot to add was that the smells that are the actual reason many winding up doing all these things to their body are unregulated or untested by FDA in many cases . There have even been references here on the consumerist .

    In other words the CHEMICALS in those shampoos,soaps,colognes etc used for smell might be the ones that give you something one day other than stylish spring fresh hair . I know they give me headaches .

  73. PinkBox says:

    I’ve always read that the more you shampoo your hair, the more dry it can actually get because you’re washing away beneficial oils… which is why washing it less is better, so those oils can accumilate.

  74. blash says:

    And for those of us who need dandruff shampoo? Otherwise it looks like there’s been a snow fall on my head in Southern California…

  75. lincolnparadox says:

    Just FYI, sodium laurel sulfate is the chemical term for “soap.” It’s a common chemical detergent. Some soaps are given more specific names depending on their fat source (sodium tallowate, for example). But there is nothing to be feared from a little laurel sulfate.

    • Daniel Kipnis says:

      The idea is that SLS is too harsh for your hair, not that it’s particularly bad for you. There are plenty of SLS free conditioners for sale at any health food store(albeit at a huge markup). I just skip shampoo and only condition.

  76. Meathamper says:

    If I don’t shampoo for one day, I get dandruff on my hair. This is why I can’t stop using it.

  77. erratapage says:

    I haven’t bought shampoo in over a year. I wash my hair once or twice a week using a small amount of shampoo, and the hair looks fine. It doesn’t matter how long or short my hair is. I stopped using conditioner about a year ago, and haven’t noticed a difference in my hair.

  78. Joe Lachiana says:

    Again with the “victimless crimes”. Why is everyone’s point of view so ASS BACKWARD???? Is this REALLY a problem? Maybe we should focus on issues that affect people….like people who DON’T SHAMPOO THEIR HAIR ENOUGH???

    Stand in the subway or train or any crowded area and tell me there’s a problem with people OVER-washing.

    So stupid.

    • Daniel Kipnis says:

      @Joe Lachiana:
      So you can’t give somebody a tip? Here’s the Consumerist, trying to save you money and you just RAGE? FYI, I’ve been using only conditioner for months now, completely no-poo, and my hair is the same or better than it was before. Anecdotal, for sure, but it worked for me.

  79. Steve Walker says:

    All this poo is a sham….

  80. cinnarose says:

    I have extremely curly hair that is dry. After years of daily shampooing I went to once, maybe twice, a week at most. As long as I rinse my hair in the shower daily, rubbing the scalp a bit at the same time, my hair looks wonderful and there is no smell. I put conditioner on the ends also. I use less product on my hair, it looks great and is much softer than when I shampooed every day. I started this mainly because of dry scalp issues, and it seems to have helped this as well.

  81. trujunglist says:

    No thanks, I don’t want to smell and feel like shit all day just because some women have success with not washing their hair. My ex washed her hair about once a week and it was fine.
    I also know some people that don’t shower every day. To me, that is goddamn nasty, and yes, they do sometimes reek. Badly.

  82. Julia789 says:

    Is toothbrushing next on the list? I suppose experts will soon say we should only brush our teeth twice a week. Otherwise it will actually encourage cavities, rather than discourage.

    And stinky feet? Obviously the result of too much washing! Feet should never be washed, only massaged and slathered with dirt and grease on a regular basis.


  83. redkamel says:

    I didnt even know people shampooed their hair every day. I always just did it every 3 or 4 days cause if I did it every day my hair would get weird. I think I figured it out back in middle school.

  84. adamczar says:

    This question has been asked a few times in these comments but never answered: if we don’t wash our hair with shampoo everyday, do we still rinse? Or get a shower-cap and keep it dry? I really want to know, I’m new to this concept, too.

    • Julia789 says:

      @adamczar: It depends on how your hair looks. If it looks OK, put a shower cap on or just don’t put your head all the way under the water. If your hair is a mess and sticking up at weird angles, wet it down.

      A lot of people with longer hair wash it with conditioner, instead of shampoo. They swear it’s the scrubbing and the rinsing that clean the hair more than the shampoo. I tried it, but my hair was too stinky. (I just use baby shampoo on my long hair now, it’s milder and doesn’t strip the oils but still makes me smell better.)

      Another alternative is watering down your regular shampoo. You’ll save money, and the diluted formula won’t strip the oil out of the hair as much. So when your regular shampoo is halfway gone, just fill the bottle back up with water.

      Every body is different. Some people can get away with washing every week or two, some need to wash daily. Some can wash with conditioner or baby shampoo, others need strong shampoo to get styling products like pomade out or to get dirt and sweat out after hiking or horseback riding. Everyone is unique. Figure out what works best for you.

  85. Eliamias says:

    @mdmadph: They may not but they’re supposed to. Granted, washing it more often makes the weave last less long and they may increase their mileage by being nasty, but they’re just that, nasty.

    For the record, I’ve been told that you’re supposed to dilute the shampoo first and put a special cap (though some would just use the cut off top of a pair of pantyhose. No I’m not kidding) and wash through that. Personally, I have extensions and I’m supposed to do the above as well, but I have resilient hair and just slap the stuff on my scalp directly. I’m a hair dresser’s nightmare, but my hair turns out fine.