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How Often Do I Need to Shampoo?

Maybe not as often as you think, dermatologists and stylists say.

By Jenna Birch

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD

WebMD Feature

Maybe you’ve heard shampooing less often is better for your hair. Or perhaps you’re thinking of ditching shampoo and joining the “no ‘poo” movement in search of healthier, better looking hair.

Experts say there's no single answer to how often people should shampoo. You may not need to do it as often as you think. It usually comes down to personal preference. For guidance, take a look at your hair type and styling choices.

“I have always said, ‘It’s fine to go a few days without shampooing,’” says Alli Webb, professional hair stylist and founder of Drybar. “For hair that’s normal in terms of oiliness and medium weight, I sometimes tell my clients to go as long as they can without shampooing.”

The idea behind this? Shampooing too often may lead to hair that’s less than lush.

How Shampoo Works

First off, the basics: what does shampoo do?

Shampoo traps oils, so if you do it too frequently, you may dry your hair out, leaving it prone to breakage, says Angela Lamb, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“Hair produces natural oil called sebum, and shampoo is an emulsifier that captures and traps excess oil, dirt, and product residue, which you then rinse out to clean the hair,” Lamb says.

For the most part, some dirt is OK and natural -- and you definitely want some oils to remain in your hair.

“They provide moisturizing and a protection barrier for the skin and hair,” says Carolyn Goh, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Who Should Shampoo Daily?

The experts agree: Only a small group needs to shampoo daily, like those with very fine hair, someone who exercises a lot (and sweats), or someone living in very humid place, Goh says.

“If you have oily scalp, then daily washing is needed,” she explains. “Sometimes, people think they have dry scalp because they have dandruff, but in those situations, more frequent washing is also helpful.”

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