What’s the big deal? ‘Lather, rinse, repeat’.
It may sound simple and easy, but there are a lot of things that you can over/under-do – mostly people overdo – like amount of shampoo, water temperature, how many times to wash and more. The more I learn about hair washing, the more I realise that hair basic can make a huge difference in how your hair looks and feels. So I thought I’d share some of my tips with you on how to wash your hair the right way.
Firstly, you don’t need to wash your hair every day. Washing your hair every single day will strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils. In long run over-washing will make your scalp dry, itchy, flaky, and your hair dull and prone to splits. Many people complaint that if they don’t wash their hair everyday then it gets limp and greasy.
Why does this happen? Your scalp produces sebum or natural oil, whose function is to protect and condition your scalp and hair. When you wash too much your scalp goes into panic mode and to keep the natural balance it starts producing excess sebum. And the result is greasy scalp. The only way to come out of the over-washing habit is to start stretching out the time between washing. Begin with every other day, then every third day or even more if your hair is dry or damaged. Your hair will not like it in the beginning, but after few weeks your scalp will start recovering and stop producing too much oil. Less is more with hair care.
It’s a common myth that you need a lot of lather to get your hair clean. So, most of us use more shampoo than necessary. The truth is it doesn’t take a lot of lather to clean your hair. In fact overdoing the shampoo can cause excess drying of scalp and hair.
Plus, you don’t have to repeat after rinsing, unless you have heavily oiled your hair or you work at a building site. Washing once is enough. I usually oil my hair before washing and I only shampoo once, which is enough to clean my hair and get rid of excess oil. Two shampoos at one time are hardly necessary.
When you shampoo, focus on your scalp then hair. Scalp is where dead cells and grease builds up. Take a small amount of shampoo in your palms; add a splash of water, and gently massage into your scalp with your fingertips. Then work the lather through the hair to remove any build-up or coatings.
Only if needed add a small amount of shampoo to the length of the hair – especially if you have done a pre-wash oil treatment. Usually the shampoo that rinses through the hair is enough to gently clean your strands.
Wet hair is more delicate and fragile. When hair is wet, it absorbs water and swell. This lifts up the cuticles (outer layer of the hair), which are just like shingles on the roof – laid in direction of hair growth. Washing in one direction – down in the direction the cuticles naturally go – helps to keep them smooth and aligned.
Don’t scrub or rub too hard as manipulating hair too much roughens up the cuticles and that can create tangles. Even your scalp doesn’t need intense scrubbing – this doesn’t get rid of dirt any better and can irritate your scalp. Scrub your scalp gently with the pads of your fingers to loosen dead skin and grease.
Don’t use hot water to wash your hair as it can also strip away your hair’s natural oils and leave your hair dull, dry, and fluffy. Always use lukewarm water, which is kinder to your hair as well as your skin.
And rinse well. Make sure you rinse your hair thoroughly until there is no more shampoo in your hair. Not doing so will result your hair feeling greasy. Plus any left-over product can stop your hair from shining and make your scalp dry, itchy and flaky.
As a fitness lover I work out almost four times a week, and I shampoo my hair only twice a week. What I do for sweaty hair? Most of the times I let the sweat dry and just comb through my hair several times and it works great for me. Although, I must confess that I don’t sweat too much.
But those of you who sweat heavily may not like this idea. And shampooing every day or every other day is also not good for your scalp and hair. Whether you use sulphate-free shampoos, organic, natural or whatever you think is mild, they still tend to be too harsh to use every day. So what is the alternative to conventional shampoo?
Herbal rinse is a great way to refresh your hair without hurting it. You can use whatever is easily available – Chamomile, Hibiscus, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Lavender are some of the options. To use: Take 2 to 3 teaspoon of dried or fresh herb, add 2 cups of water and let it boil for couple of minutes. Switch off the flame and cover with a lid and let it steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and use (instead of the shampoo use this concoction to wash your hair.)
You can also use fresh citrus juice – lemon, lime, orange – or honey or aloe to make a hair rinse. Simply dilute them with water (1: 4) and use.
Oil forms a protective sheath around your hair and this helps to reduce the wear and tear that happens during washing process. Plus, oil being hydrophobic (repels water) in nature limits the penetration of water into the hair – which swells when it gets wet – so the amount of water absorbed by the hair is less, and so is the damage.
Plus, a good 5 to 10 minutes head massage increases blood flow to the scalp. This increased circulation brings additional oxygen and nutrients to the hair roots. And don’t get upset if you lose hair when massaging. I would worry if no hair sheds during massaging or washing. It is perfectly normal to shed between 50 to 100 hair per day, and the shed hair gets replaced by new growth.
To sum up: Be kinder to your scalp and hair and it will go a long way. And for those who are trying to live naturally ‘washing hair less frequently is using less shampoo and thus less of not so good ingredients’.
Wishing you beautiful hair 🙂
How many times do you wash your hair?