Ah, summer, the season of warm weather, longer days, lots of sunshine…and humidity. While there’s a lot to enjoy about the season, the rising temperatures cause increased sweating and sebum production, a combination that tends to lead to oily hair. Of course, it’s temping to combat this by shampooing more often, but according to experts, you may want to consider sudsing up less.
Nicolette Rauchut, hair stylist at Lrn Beauty, generally suggests that her clients wash their hair only two or three times a week to keep oil at bay and maintain scalp health without stripping strands of necessary moisture. That’s because your hair is more vulnerable to sun damage during the summer months, which shows in the form of dry strands, split ends, frizz, and discoloration.
What’s more, overwashing your hair in an attempt to make it less greasy can have an adverse effect. “When we shampoo too often, it tricks the scalp into producing more natural oil to help nourish the skin and and protect the hair follicles,” Rauchut says.
However, she notes that the amount of times you’ll want to shampoo come summer depends on several factors, including your hair texture, hairstyle preference, activity level, and time spent outdoors. Curious where your strands stand? Here’s a quick guide to determine where you fall on the “how many times should I wash my hair per week?” spectrum.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair in the Summer
Pool or Beach Babes: 4-5 times a week
If you spend the majority of the summer camped out at the pool or beach, you should be washing your hair more frequently. “Chemicals like chlorine and salt water are harsh on the hair and lead to dehydration and discoloration due to oxidation, say NYC master hair colorist Stephanie Brown. Look for a clarifying shampoo with nourishing ingredients that will replenish hair, like Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo ($24; sephora.com), and always apply a conditioning treatment after each wash, she adds.
Active Individuals: 3-4 times a week
Fun fact: The scalp has a higher number of sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and hair follicles than the rest of the body. So, for those with a highly active lifestyle, such as runners, cyclists or swimmers, Rauchut recommends keeping your cleansing routines closer together — think every other day. “Cleansing the scalp of sweat, dirt, and impurities is a priority for hair health,” she says, adding that buildup can lead to flakiness, lackluster strands, and slower hair growth. A choice product for active individuals: SEEN Shampoo ($29; ulta.com), which is formulated to gently yet thoroughly cleanse the scalp while also hydrating hair, thanks to moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, bisabolol, and squalene.
Thinner, Straighter Hair Types: 6-7 times a week
How often you shampoo in the summer will also depend on the type of hair you have, says celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons. “If you have thinner and straighter hair, you’ll want to wash it more frequently than those with thicker or curlier textures.” And to answer the impending question: Yes, thinner hair types can get away with shampooing daily. That’s because oils from your scalp weigh down your roots and easily travel down the length of your hair, making it nearly impossible to hold a hairstyle in the summer heat. We like OUAI Fine Hair Shampoo ($28; sephora.com), which strengthens and thickens hair with keratin, biotin, and nourishing chia seed oil.
Curly Textures: Once a week
Curly hair has thicker cuticles that are more robust and rigid, which leaves strands slightly more sensitive to outdoor elements, explains Rauchu. It’s also prone to dryness since it’s harder for the natural oils that your scalp produces to coat your hair from the root to the ends. “Because shampoo tends to strip the hair of moisture — and curls need moisture to thrive! — washing it too often will lead to brittle curls that appear frizzy, especially in the summer,” she says.
In most cases, shampooing once a week should suffice for curly textures. Rauchut also adds that you don’t have to shampoo each time you wet your hair: “Instead rinse your hair with hot water, use a brush to stimulate the scalp and break up buildup without a lathering agent, and finish with a conditioner to give your ends the hydration they need.” This method is known as co-washing and will help preserve the health and shape of your curls. Try Briogio Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash ($32; ulta.com).
Color-Treated Hair: 2-3 times a week
To prevent hard water and surfactants from fading your color, you should shampoo less often. This will allow your hair to retain the natural oils that help keep color-treated strands conditioned, vibrant, and better protected from sun damage. However, there is one caveat: As mentioned above, harsh pool chemicals and salt water can wreak havoc on color-treated hair, causing it to fade, change tones, and/or turn brassy. So it’s important to gently cleanse the hair immediately after swimming. Give it a quick rinse sans shampoo or opt for a color-protecting product, such as Redken Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate-Free Shampoo ($23; ulta.com).
Still not exactly sure?
If you’re still not clear on how often should you wash your hair, Fitzsimons recommends feeling it out by shampooing more frequently, seeing how your hair responds, and adjusting your routine from there.
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