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How Often Do You Really Need to Shampoo?

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

Every Few Days? continued...

"Some people with curly hair actually only shampoo monthly and use just conditioner in between to maintain moisture and healthy curls," Woolery-Lloyd says.

As hair types and textures vary by ethnicity, so does the need to shampoo. "As an African-American, I grew up being told that shampooing any more than once a week would cause my hair to dry and break off," says Lori Pindar, a university administrator in Clemson, S.C. Like Capasso, Pindar's daily routine includes conditioner, not shampoo.

Shampoo's bubbles, which people often associate with cleanness, are actually created by the harshest ingredients, sulfates, and are not necessary for cleansing the scalp. Experts say these foaming agents, which dehydrate the hair, are only in cleansing products because people expect bubbles. "That's what we've gotten used to because we see the commercials with big white foam," Mirmirani says.

Excessive shampooing can require excessive styling. "Hair washed every day with shampoo tends to need more styling product. Because it's so clean, it's also soft, loose, and floppy and therefore harder to style," Arrojo says. All these products lead to more shampooing as they build up and make hair look dull, Mirmirani says.

"Shampoo removes oil and excess skin cells from the scalp. It's not doing any favors for the hair, unless you have a lot of product in it that is making your hair look dull. But in general, shampoo is not good for fiber," Mirmirani says.

Simply switching to nonfoaming, sulfate-free cleansers will also go a long way.

"Natural ingredients produce less suds, but they still have plenty of cleaning power with the added benefit of less residue," Arrojo says. 


Bogna McAndrew, an entrepreneur in London, quit shampooing her long, straight hair. She says her hair always looked best when it was a little dirty and she wished it could look that way when it was clean.

Six weeks after giving up shampoo, she said, "I love my hair now. I just didn't know there was any alternative to shampoo. I thought you just had to be a dirty hippie. I didn't know you could clean your hair any other way."

McAndrew uses a baking soda and water mixture once a week on her scalp, and she's learned about other shampoo alternatives including lemon juice and even beer.

"It has really opened my eyes," McAndrew says.


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