The real reason you should stop washing your hair every day

Chances are, this morning you brewed some coffee, checked your email, and hopped in the shower to wash your hair. Maybe you even had some green juice if you were really on top of things. The problem is, this daily habit of washing our hair is probably doing more harm than good. Not only can daily shampooing lead to dry, brittle hair, but it wastes your body's natural conditioner by washing it away.

I spoke with stylists and colorists to learn exactly why daily shampooing is so damaging, and what to do about it.

Your shampoo is too harsh

I interviewed veteran hairstylist and founder of Flygirl Beauty Lisa Abbey about why daily shampooing can actually damage your hair. Abbey explained her number one reason for limiting hair washing for her clients is that most shampoo is just too strong for our hair. "The majority of shampoos on the market today contain sulfates — which in layman's terms are simply degreasing detergents, also used in household cleaning products, car wash soaps, etc," she shared. "Not something we need or want in our hair."

Abbey explained sulfates harshly strip our hair of its oils and nutrients. "It has also been discovered that products containing 10 percent or more sulfate surfactants increase hair thinning and loss up to eight times [of normal risk]," explains Abbey. "They also strip the hair of much-needed natural moisture, fade natural and artificial hair color and remove smoothing treatments." Yikes! Maybe a little oil isn't so bad.

So how can we tell if our shampoo is safe? First check the label. Abbey recommends sticking with sulfate-free shampoos. Next pay attention to the shampoo next time you're in the shower. "If it lathers a lot, it does [contain sulfates]," she explains. "Healthier options provide little-to-no lather but cleanse the hair completely, leaving it feeling much more hydrated and soft, but not limp."

Save some conditioner

To get soft, silky locks, so many of us are willing to shell out big bucks for the designer conditioner, but we already have the best conditioner possible. Our hair's natural oils nourish our hair perfectly, but if you shampoo everyday, you're washing it away.

Celebrity hairdresser and CEO of Eden by Eden Sassoon Salon, Sean Dawson spoke with me about the importance of hanging onto our hair's natural oils. "Your natural oils, or sebum, are the best conditioner in existence, and far better than any man-made treatment you can find on the market," he explained. "But it is important to allow it to do its work." When we shampoo everyday, that glorious oil never makes its way down your hair shaft, meaning you miss out on the natural conditioning treatment..

Hairstylist Danielle Mauriello of BloBlow Dry Bar also has great respect for that oil most of us are trying to get rid of. "Think of it as your body's own natural hot oil treatment (the one you pay loads of money to have done)," she explains. "This oil is produced to hydrate and protect your hair from the environment, heat and chemicals, which let's face it ladies, we can't escape."

In addition to laying off the shampoo, Dawson recommends brushing your hair often to spread the natural oils all the way down. Channel your inner Marsha Brady and sit in front of your mirror brushing your beautiful locks. "Brush your hair often, like they did in the olden days, as this is the best way to distribute your natural oils down the hair shaft," he recommends "'spreading the love' throughout your hair, and always use a brush with natural bristles."

Keep your color

I love that feeling of leaving the salon with a new haircut and highlights. There's always a little bounce in your step as you check out your reflection in store windows. But there's one thing that can make that new do fall flat — watching all that gorgeous color go down the drain every time you wash your hair.

We asked celebrity colorist Michael Boychuck about his tips for keeping your color vibrant and clean. Boychuck is not a fan of daily shampooing. "If you are washing your hair more than every other day, it's too much, especially if it's colored," he said. "To keep hair moisturized and color intact, you can wash twice a week and touch up in between by wetting the hair lightly and adding a light styling agent like MOROCCANOIL's Beach Wave Mousse. Work that through and let air-dry or style while blow drying for a shampoo-free, refreshed look."

Boychuck limits how often his clients shampoo to allow the hair's natural oils to come through. "Limiting the amount of times you shampoo your hair allows the hair's natural oils and proteins to coat the strands from root to tip and keep it healthy, strong and prevents breakage," he shared.

Fight the frizz

One unfortunate outcome of over-shampooing your hair is frizz. Frizz happens when our hair is exposed to static. Just think about when you walk into the house from a dry winter day. When you take your hat off, your hair most likely stands up straight from the static.

Unfortunately for shampoo, the more we wash our hair, the dryer it will be. "In dry winter weather, you will have more static and, unfortunately, frizz. What really makes a difference is how often you wash your hair," celebrity stylist and owner of George the salon George Gonzales shared. "A trick that will help with frizz and hair standing on end is to only wash your hair every other day. This is very hard for most people, but try to rinse your second day and only condition."

Cut the grease

So why are so many women still shampooing every day if it's going to wash out your color and make you frizz up? Maybe it's just habit, but most women do it for appearance. No one wants to walk into the office looking greasy. Of course we know daily shampooing isn't great, but it's better than looking like you haven't showered in days. Well surprisingly, that daily shampooing habit could actually make your hair look more oily.

Beauty blogger Miranda Mendoza explained daily washing can actually do the opposite of make your hair look clean. "When you wash your hair with the run-of-the-mill shampoo, you're stripping your scalp of its natural oils that it needs to stay healthy," she explains. "The outcome? Your skin tries to overcompensate by producing even more oil. That's right — washing your hair too often might be the reason your hair is oily in the first place!"

Oranj Studio owner and stylist Tamara Dayton agrees. "Because your scalp is always trying to rebalance itself, this can lead to overly greasy-feeling hair," she said. "Adjusting the frequency of your washing routine can help your hair maintain its natural level of moisture."

So what's an oily girl to do? Mendoza recommends trying a dry shampoo between washes to absorb some of the excess oil without stripping it from your locks.

Thick hair needs the oil

It seems when it comes to deciding how often to wash your hair, the answer lies in its thickness. The thicker your hair, the longer you'll be able to go between washes. Thin hair will show oil sooner, so your fine-haired friends might have to wash more often. "Thinner hair will most likely need to be washed soonest, as it's not forgiving to oil or product buildup, but women should still try to wait at least two days between washing," explains Miranda Mendoza. "The more thickness and texture to the hair, the more leeway you have."

So how often should you wash?

We know daily hair washing is not the answer, but what is? How can we protect our hair while still keeping it clean? Hairstylist Sean Dawson recommends washing your hair about two or three times per week, and make sure you take a tip from your stylist. When your stylist shampoos you in the salon, he washes your hair twice before moving to the conditioner. "Shampoo works like a magnet so the first one can only absorb so much oil and dirt and it's the second that really cleanses the scalp and hair, also never put conditioner on your roots as, remember, you have the best conditioner there naturally," explains Dawson. "If your hair is overly greasy then leave the first shampoo lathered up for two to three minutes before washing off and repeating with the second."

As a former daily hair washer myself, I know it's not easy to suddenly go from daily to twice a week. Your hair feels dirty, and just off. Salon Eva Michelle artistic designer Bryant Anthony recommends taking baby steps. "If it's daily, start by washing every other day. If you are already doing so, skip another day and in between use a dry shampoo," he recommends. "By washing your hair less, you benefit on producing natural oils which benefit your scalp and hair."

Dawson recommends using dry shampoo that comes as a spray. " If you need a bit of freshening in between shampoos, then try a dry shampoo, especially the newer modern spray types, as these contain a powder that will absorb oil and sweat residue and keep your hair feeling fresh as the day you washed it and see you through to your next cleanse," he explains. "If you do not have a dry shampoo, then sprinkle a small amount of baby powder onto a brush and brush from roots to ends thoroughly. This will not only do the same thing but leave your hair smelling fresh as a newborn." Just don't do too much or your friends will be wondering if you're going prematurely white.