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Here’s how often you should actually be washing your hair, according to experts

Hairstylists and dermatologists weigh in on the best hair wash routine for every hair type.

If you want healthy, luscious locks, your hair care routine is of utmost importance. Sure, you may be thinking of trims and heat protectants right about now — but never underestimate the importance of a good hair wash routine beyond your dry shampoo addiction. That, however, begs the question: How often should you actually be washing your hair every time you take a shower? Unfortunately, the answer might be a little more complicated than you think and depends entirely on your hair type.

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“When it comes to hair care and creating routines, it’s different for everyone because every person has a different case and starting point,” Liz Cozart of Bellibone Salon in New Jersey tells Yahoo. Basically, there's no right answer. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that how often you wash your hair should be based on how much oil your scalp produces.

"Your scalp can get irritated from buildup of natural oils, products, sweat and anything else in life!" says Mona Gohara, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine. This is the time when you need to break out the shampoo. However, you can still over wash your hair, which is just as irritating.

Woman bathing and washing her hair relaxed.
The last thing you want is a stressful shampooing experience. (Getty)

Yes, this information is totally overwhelming and now you probably have even more questions than answers. Don't worry, we consulted expert dermatologists and hair stylists on everything shampooing for each hair type. Read on for all of of the tips!

How often should you wash your hair?

This depends totally on your hair type. Your hair wash routine will look a lot different if you have straight and fine 1A hair than if you have coarser and kinky 4C hair. Still, you need to be shampooing — especially when your hair and scalp start to feel and and look visibly dirty. However, no matter what type of hair you have, you should always, always be using a conditioner after washing your hair.

Note: It's always best to consult your hair stylist or a dermatologist for hyper-personalized advice, especially when it comes to things hair loss and dandruff.

How often should you wash fine hair?

If you have finer hair, then you're probably already well aware that fine hair shows grease and oil more than other hair types. While you can wash your hair daily if your hair gets visibly dirty or you've just got in a super sweaty workout, it's not totally necessary.

San Francisco-based hair colorist Tylor Johnson recommends washing the hair two to three times per week. "This is enough to keep the scalp in good shape and clean without stripping the natural oils," Johnson explains.

No matter what, there's still an easy way to figure it out: "The key is to pay attention to your scalp and its production of sebum," explains L’Oréal Paris celebrity hairstylist and colorist Jonathan Colombini. "If you get oily quickly, chances are you’re over-shampooing and could start adding another day in between washes to help regulate this."

This super-light shampoo cleanses and conditions hair without weighing it down. Because it's both hydrating and weightless, this is a great option for those with fine hair or daily washers. 

$20 at Amazon
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$20 at Macy's$20 at Sephora

How often should you wash thinning hair?

When it comes to thinning hair, it's important to remember that everything starts with the scalp! If you're over-washing your hair, that can disrupt the skin barrier on your scalp, leaving it dry, irritated and inflamed.

"For thinning hair you want to make sure that your scalp health is on point," explains Dr. Gohara. "Think of trying to grow a flower in soil that is too wet or too dry. It isn’t optimal for blooming. Same thing goes for hair."

Just like you would with the skin on your face, you need to be making sure your scalp is properly moisturized and strong enough for healthier hair. After all, your scalp is still skin! And while a shampoo alone won't help with hair growth, Dr. Gohara recommends using a shampoo made specifically for nurturing and healing your scalp.

Developed by Dove with dermatologists, this hydrating shampoo is formulated with moisture-boosting and skin-healing ingredients like vitamin B3, vitamin E, zinc and peptides.

$9 at Amazon
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$10 at Walmart$12 at CVS Pharmacy

How often should you wash your hair if you have dandruff?

If you have dandruff or an itchy scalp, you should still be washing according to your specific hair type, but instead with a dandruff shampoo. The AAD suggests looking for a shampoo with one of the following ingredients: Zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, sulfur, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole or coal tar.

This is one of the most popular anti-dandruff shampoos on the market with nearly 70,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. However, it's important to read the instructions and use it sparingly throughout the week in between regular shampoo days. 

$14 at Amazon
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$16 at Walmart$22 at CVS Pharmacy

If you're concerned about your dandruff, it's best to consult a dermatologist. This way, they can tell you if your dandruff is possibly medical condition like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections of the scalp or eczema.

How often should you wash thick, textured, coarse or curly hair?

The AAD and hair stylists alike suggest that this hair type only needs to be washed as needed. Monitor your hair and scalp for any dry flakes, product build-up and excess oil, since this is your scalp telling you that it needs a shampoo! If you're still unsure, the AAD recommends washing your hair once a week or every other week.

Because curlier hair is often in need of moisture and hydration, you're going to want to look for something with seriously moisturizing ingredients!

Evolvh is the highest-rated haircare brand on the clean beauty site, Credo. The brand has shampoo and conditioning products for multiple types of hair, but its SmartCurl Hydrating wash is a fan-favorite, made with natural ingredients and oils.

$32 at Credo

How often should you wash protective styles?

For those with natural hair, your recommended wash cycle will look a lot more different if your hair is in a protective style, like braids or locs. But let’s be real; you probably know this already.

“Generally, if your hair is braided as a protective style, your traditional shampooing is going to be a lot more infrequent in order to maintain the style,” instructs Colombini. “By keeping the hair protected this way, you’re also eliminating a lot of thermal and environmental damage, so you won’t need to wash the hair as often.”

Similar to textured hair not in protective styles, you're going to want to look for something that softens dry and brittle hair.

One of the top-rated wash products on Ulta, Redken’s All Soft Shampoo is specifically recommended for softening dry, brittle hair. Pair with with the Redken All Soft Conditioner for an even stronger boost of softness. 

$25 at Ulta

How often should you wash colored or bleached hair?

Speaking of damage, your hair-washing needs may be different if you have dyed or bleached hair. You’ll likely want to use products formulated for dyed hair, including but not limited to color-care conditioners or extra-nourishing treatments.

“If you have severe damage from color, you want to be sure you’re using a shampoo and conditioner that supports color,” Colombini says. “I recommend the L’Oréal Paris EverPure franchise, which is sulfate and paraben free with a vegan formula. By using gentle products without harsh chemicals, you’ll get much more longevity from your color.”

By using gentle products without harsh chemicals, like this L'Óreal pick by Colombini, you’ll get much more longevity from your color.

$10 at Ulta

Should you be using a clarifying shampoo?

If you are rethinking your wash routine, you may have a lingering product question: When should you use clarifying shampoo versus regular shampoo? Turns out, it’s not as mystifying as it may seem.

“If you feel product buildup on the hair, swim in chlorine or go in the ocean a lot — anything that would cause your hair to have buildup or outside chemicals on them — you’ll definitely want to use a clarifier to refresh,” Colombini says. “Aside from those circumstances, using a regular shampoo should be enough to cleanse the hair during your normal wash routine.”

Ouai’s Detox Shampoo is the top-selling wash product on Sephora’s site. The shampoo is a clarifying formula that cleanses hair of dirt, oil and product buildup with apple cider vinegar. The formula also includes keratin to help strengthen hair.

$32 at Sephora

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.