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How Often Should I Wash My Natural Hair?

Your wash day routine may be perfect, but your timing may not be.
July 15, 2022

When it comes to personal beauty habits and processes, we’re true believers in doing whatever works best for you. But some may argue that there are hard fast rules about hair care routines if you want to maintain a healthy mane

For those with natural hair, the hair washing process, namely the frequency of hair washing, has been a highly debated subject for years. Should you wash your natural hair every week or every two weeks? What about if you’re wearing a protective style? The questions are vast and valid. So we tapped Dr. Michelle Henry, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consulting expert to shed some light on how often one should wash their natural hair.

When Should You Wash Natural Hair?

While it’s a common belief that it’s better to wait longer to wash when you have natural hair, some influencers and brands have touted the benefits of washing natural hair more often. But Henry says there is a thing as too often — you have to find balance. 

“Regardless of any hair type, washing every day is not good,” she says. “It can dry out your hair and also, in some cases, create overproduction of sebum and cause oily hair. A general rule of thumb is to wash every other day.”

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Your hair type will also play a role in how frequently you wash it. We know that amongst the natural hair community there are several different curl patterns, textures and porosities. Not all curls and coils are created equal. Your hair can be curly but fine, just as your hair can be thick but low porosity. How often you’re washing it should be based on how much your hair needs it and can handle it. 

Henry offered some general guidelines to follow when you’re still figuring out your routine. “For all hair, fine to medium hair [should be washed] every other day,” she says. “Medium to coarse hair once every three to four days. But for curly hair, I would suggest every four days to once a week. Coarse and curly hair tends to be on the dry side so overwashing it can cause even more dryness.” 

Of course, no rule has to be the standard if it doesn’t make sense for you. If you feel like your hair is greasy, smelly or full of buildup, wash it. You can always spritz it with dry shampoo like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Tinted Dry Shampoo for Blonde Hair if you have light-colored hair, or the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Tinted Dry Shampoo for Brown Hair if you have dark hair.

There are also hacks you can employ if you’re not sure if your hair is due for a wash, such as washing with conditioner instead of shampoo, as Henry recommends. “Go through the same motions of shampooing but using conditioner instead,” she explains. “This will ensure you’re not over-washing and preserving your hair texture and color. This hack is great for our fitness lovers who get sweaty hair and want a little refresh.” 

We love the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner for this process. Its creamy formula helps to easily detangle hair and seal in moisture. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, it helps fight frizz so you have soft, defined curls with bounce and shine.

3 Tips for How to Wash Natural Hair

Knowing how to wash natural hair goes hand in hand with knowing how often to wash it. Incorporate these simple tips into your wash day routine when it is in fact time to give your curls a cleanse.

1. Prep By Detangling

Before you start with the cleansing process detangle your hair. It’s easier to give hair a proper cleaning when your shampoo and water can get to every inch of your curls. Using a wide-tooth comb, start detangling your hair from the ends and work your way up to the roots. You can also detangle curls with your fingers, just be gentle and patient.

2. Pre-Poo After Detangling

If you have especially dry hair then you know the difference that a deep conditioning treatment can make. But did you know that adding a pre-shampoo treatment can also be beneficial for your dry strands? Pre-conditioning your hair before you shampoo can help with the detangling process while also adding moisture to your strands. If you have high porosity hair this can help you add back some of that hydration that you lose so quickly.

3. Never Forget Leave-In Conditioner

We know, this sort of goes without saying — but we can’t take any chances not saying it. Leave-in conditioner is so important for keeping natural hair moisturized. Whether you prefer a traditional formula like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner which can be worked into your hair like a cream or a spray formula like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape Leave-in Spray, just don’t skip your moisturizer.

Next: Should You Cut Your Hair Wet Or Dry?

Written by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn

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