Can you train your hair to need less washing?

Is it possible to train your hair to need less washing? [Photo: Getty]

There’s no doubt about it washing your hair is a bit of a faff. Well not so much the actual washing, more the drying. *yawns*

Let’s face it having to lather up, then dry our barnet every day is not ideal, when there’s sleeping and, you know, living to be doing.

So wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just teach your hair to need less washing?

Amazing, yes, but possible? Not so much.

“Your scalp is skin and you cannot train any skin to need less washing,” advises Anabel Kingsley, Trichologist at Philip Kingsley. “Like the skin on your face, or underarms, it is a living tissue that sweats, produces oils and sheds dead skin cells. Your hair, once grown, is dead tissue.”

Which means you can’t actually train it to do anything. Oh.

But before you skip right on to the next article, it’s worth noting that while you cannot train your hair to need less washing you can train yourself to switch up your hair-washing regime. Which could help reduce the buildup of oil that could be hindering your quest for fewer wash days.

What happens to your hair if you wash it less?

“Initially, your hair simply gets dirty, and your scalp greasy,” explains Anabel. “The long-term implications can be more serious. Your scalp can really suffer health-wise if you are not cleansing it often enough. For instance, you are likely to get itching, flaking, excessive oiliness and general irritation. This can have a knock-on effect on your hair, as scalp health is closely interlinked to hair growth.”

What happens to your hair if you wash it more?

“Generally speaking, shampooing daily to every other day is ideal. It keeps the scalp clean and healthy, and in turn this supports hair growth,” says Anabel. “Frequent shampooing also removes daily grime and product debris from your hair.” 

What is the optimum time to leave your hair between washes?

According to Anabel we should be lathering up daily or every other day minimum. “That said, if washing your hair more means you are heat-styling more often, you may encounter problems with the condition of your hair,” she explains. “It is about finding a balance. As a general rule, do not leave more than three days between shampoos.”

So it isn’t possible to train your hair to need less washing?

Sadly not. “Your scalp is skin and should be given similar care to the skin on your face,” explains Anabel. “Shampooing daily to every other day helps to keep the scalp healthy and clear of flakes, sweat and excess oils. In terms of your hair, shampooing removes dust, dirt and old product. Think of hair products as you would make-up. You wouldn’t leave foundation or blush sitting on your face for days – and nor should you leave styling mousses or hairsprays on your hair for an extended period.”

How can you help your hair last longer between washes?

Anabel suggests using a soothing, astringent scalp toner after shampooing to help regulate oil production. She recommends the Philip Kingsley Scalp Toner, which contains Witch Hazel to help soak up excess oil, as well as anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory ingredients.

“Once weekly, apply an intensive pre-shampoo conditioning treatment to your hair,” she adds. “I recommend our Elasticizer. It draws moisture into the hair shaft, increasing elasticity, strength and shine.”

“Alongside your deep conditioner, apply an exfoliating scalp mask to your scalp. Like your face, your scalp benefits from gentle weekly exfoliation,” she continues.

Finally, Anabel recommends only apply conditioner to your mid-lengths and ends. “Applying conditioner to your root area can weigh your hair down and make it limp and flat,” she explains.

Is it the case that the more you wash your hair the more you need to wash it?

“No,” says Anabel. “You will simply get used to your hair and scalp looking and feeling a certain way. Again, apply the same logic to hair/scalp as you do to skin. Washing your face frequently does not mean that you will need to wash it more.”

Washing, then drying your hair is a bit of a faff [Photo: Getty]

So now we’ve got to the bottom of the hair washing dilemma here’s some other barnet busting myths…

Myth: A cold rinse makes hair shinier

“Cold rinses may be invigorating, but they do not make your hair shinier or close the hair cuticle,” explains Anabel. “If anything at all, a cold rinse may be bad for your hair as it constricts the blood capillaries in your scalp which carry nutrients to each follicle.”

Myth: Hair gets used to the same shampoo

You might think you need to switch up your shampoo brand every so often but in fact a shampoo does not stop working because your hair gets used to it. “If your shampoo stops giving you the results you want, the condition and needs of your hair have most likely changed,” explains Anabel. “For instance, you may have had it cut, coloured, relaxed, straightened or grown it longer. Or the season may have changed i.e. it is more humid, the sun is stronger, or the air is dryer. Your state of health or hormone levels may also be different from recent illness or your monthly cycle.”

Myth: Frequent shampooing makes hair oilier

Nope this isn’t true either. “You might as well say that the more you shower, the dirtier you get,” Anabel says. “Clean hair shows grease faster than hair that is already oily; similarly, clean clothes show dirt immediately, whereas dirty clothes have to get much dirtier before it becomes noticeable. It is a matter of individual perception.”

“Just as cleansing an oily face doesn’t produce oiler skin, shampooing does not make your scalp oilier. Things that actually can increase oil production are hormones and stress.”

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