A Celebrity Stylist Gives the Definitive Answer to How Often You Need to Wash Your Hair

One of the most commonly asked questions both in and out of the salon chair is how often we should really be washing our hair. We’ve all heard the two-to-three-day rule, but then been told cleansing every week is fine, so which is the truth? To get some expert insight on the topic, we asked celebrity hairstylist Rossano Ferretti (names like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Middleton, Dakota Johnson and Reese Witherspoon have been spotted leaving his salons around the world, and his eponymous hair line is launching this month at Sephora) the questions we thought you might like the answers to when it comes to shampooing your strands and maintaining their health.

While it’s not as easy to put on the calendar, instead of counting the number of days in between washes when scheduling your shampoo sessions, Feretti says your hair will benefit tenfold if you focus on the care your locks are craving depending on your zip code, lifestyle and hair type. “It's very difficult to establish how often women should wash their hair because it depends a lot on their lifestyle (if they play sports or swim, etc.), the location where they live (because some cities are dirtier than others) and the kind of hair they have (some types of hair absorb more than others) which would lead to more washes,” he explains. As a general rule, however, Feretti says thin and natural hair need a frequent washing because they are easy to get heavy and greasy, while thick, unruly and colored hair are able to hold a little longer. “Some types of hair are naturally porous and absorb much more impurity, which is why they should be washed often,” he explains, adding that this is why oily hair usually is washed more often because in the scalp doesn't stay clean for long. “In this case, it’s crucial to use a very gentle shampoo to respect the scalp’s pH, not to create more sebum.”

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In the case of colored hair, more important than the frequency of washing is the products you are using in the shower. “Colored and chemically treated hair needs to be moisturized and cared for properly with the best conditioner and washed with a nonaggressive shampoo.” He suggests reaching for hydrating shampoos that are also sulfate-free to maintain rich color and vibrancy without stripping any necessary, natural oils from the hair. He also stresses the importance of reading the ingredient label before purchasing a hair-care product (not just shampoo!). “Stay away from parabens, formaldehyde and SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate).” These ingredients will only strip your hair of its moisture—eventually leaving it to resemble hay or straw—as well as fading its color and overall health.

And last but not least: conditioner. If you tend to skip this step because your hair is oily, you think it weighs your hair down or you just don’t think your strands are dry enough or need it, Feretti suggests otherwise. “It is crucial to use conditioner every time the hair is washed. The idea that the conditioner makes the hair heavy is wrong—if the right and appropriate conditioner is used it won’t be. For oily hair, while your scalp is often oily, the ends/strands are dry.” To deal with tricky hair and keep it from getting greasy, apply a sulfate-, paraben- and formaldehyde-free conditioner to the ends instead of skipping the step entirely. 

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