In hot and humid Singapore, most of us would find it necessary to wash our hair as often once or twice a day. But this practice might be doing more harm than good for your scalp and hair health as your routine isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; it should be tailored to individual scalp and hair conditions, taking into account factors like hair texture, scalp type, and personal habits.
To find out how often you should really be washing your tresses, we sought advice from two leading haircare experts: Leonica Kei, founder and principal trichologist at Leonica K Trichology, and Dr Jenny Wong, trichologist and founder of Trichomd Hair Restoration & Laboratories.
The pitfalls of frequent washing
According to Kei, the scalp, being an extension of the skin, contains sebaceous glands that play a vital role in its condition. Factors like puberty, stress, diet, humidity, and exercise can influence the sebaceous glands’ activity, affecting the required frequency of hair washing.
However, washing hair once or twice daily might cause hair to become slightly dry. Dr Wong emphasises that excessive hair washing can have negative consequences on both your scalp and the health of your hair. “While it may seem counterintuitive at first, over-washing can lead to various issues, from stripping away natural oils to causing dryness, breakage, and dandruff.”
Customising your hair washing schedule
Kei adds that individuals with Afro Caribbean hair – which tends to be very curly or frizzy – might prefer washing their hair less frequently, as a bit of natural oil can enhance the appearance of their unique hair texture. However, if you have an oily scalp, you should continue to wash your hair daily to prevent itching, flakiness, and inflammation caused by the accumulation of dead skin cells.
Other factors to consider
While hair texture and scalp type are essential considerations, Dr Wong points out that additional factors can influence how often you should wash your hair. If you lead an active lifestyle, exercise frequently, or perspire heavily, you may need to wash your hair more frequently to maintain a healthy scalp. Sweat can lead to scalp irritation and inflammation, making regular cleansing essential. On the other hand, Kei explains that some people may not need to wash their hair as frequently due to their hairstyle and lifestyle. For example, if they are constantly in an air-conditioned environment and do not perspire – and that’s acceptable as long as it doesn’t cause any scalp irritation.
Take note of these hair washing techniques
According to Dr Wong, the technique you use to wash your hair can indeed affect your hair washing frequency. For the best results, use lukewarm to warm water during washing, as cold water can cause sebum and oil from shampoo to harden on the scalp, potentially clogging hair follicles.
Dr Wong believes that you should shampoo and rinse multiple times according to how dirty or oily your hair and scalp is. Ordinarily, shampoo and rinse twice to properly cleanse hair of oil, sweat and dirt. But if you use hair products, you should shampoo and rinse three to four times in a single wash to cleanse properly.
Additionally, both Dr Wong and Kei agree that you should avoid the use of foreign objects like brushes or shampoo brushes to scrub your scalp when wet, as wet hair is more susceptible to breakage and damage. Instead, use your fingertips gently to massage the scalp, promoting healthy circulation without risking hair breakage.
Resetting your hair washing routine
If you’ve been washing your hair too often and want to re-establish the best frequency for your hair and scalp, there’s no need to make significant changes. Simply switch to washing either once daily or when your hair and scalp is either oily and/or dirty.
Be sure to use a pH-balanced shampoo without oil or silicone content. During the adjustment period, your scalp may produce more or less oil, resulting in temporary dryness or oiliness, but this will typically normalise within two to three weeks.