With an abundance of haircare advice constantly circulating, it can be difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. One particularly common fallacy is that washing your hair everyday can lead to hair loss – instead, rather than cause hair loss, regularly washing your hair can have highly beneficial results. In this article, we’ll discuss why people think that excess washing causes hair loss, the proven impact of regular washing, and the importance of good products and a gentle routine.
No – washing your hair every day will not cause hair loss in itself. In fact, regular washing can actually help your locks look fuller and shinier, especially for those suffering from thinning. Dirty hair usually appears flatter as oils and pollution weigh the strands down while clean hair has natural movement and a healthy shine.
A study examined the impact of frequent hair washing on scalp and hair condition. The results showed that participants’ satisfaction peaked when washing their hair 5 – 6 times per week, while daily washing was highly preferable to weekly. There was also no negative impact on scalp or hair condition, despite concerns about ‘overwashing’.
The ‘overwashing’ misconception is based on the idea that regular washing strips away the scalp’s natural oils, leaving hair dry and prone to damage. In reality, however, washing clears the greasy build-up of sebum (natural oils produced by the scalp) rather than stripping oils from the hair. The sebaceous glands which produce sebum will quickly produce more to keep your hair moisturised after the wash. Your hair is also in a healthier position to grow with regular washes as you have cleaned away all the pollution and dirt of your environment which inevitably contaminates hair.
However, the benefits of daily washing are highly dependent on your hair type. This study included only Asian participants, who, along with Caucasian people, are recommended to wash their hair more regularly than people with Afro hair, for example. Similarly, those with very fine, thin, or dry hair are unlikely to need to clear excess oil as quickly as those with thicker hair, and so would benefit from leaving longer periods between washes – each person should work out their own balance according to their hair type.
Furthermore, while the act of washing your hair isn’t damaging to your strands, using harsh shampoos can hurt your hair quality – and this impact is worsened by the frequency of your washing. Poor-quality shampoos can cause brittle strands which easily snap, reducing the thickness and shine of your hair. While this is different from true hair loss, where hair follicles stop producing new hair entirely, it is still undesirable. Read more about shampoos that can damage your hair.
It is normal and expected to see some hair loss with each shower, but these hairs have already naturally shed from the follicle. These hairs dislodge from the follicle at the end of their natural cycle and accumulate until the cleansing action of washing your hair helps release them from the main bulk of your hair.
These hairs accumulating in the bottom of your shower can give the impression that shampooing causes hair loss. In reality, the hairs that collect at the bottom of the shower had already shed before you began washing – they just needed help getting out of the main bulk of your hair.
This is also the reason you may notice greater shedding after washing more infrequently, as more detached hairs have a chance to accumulate and so more hair appears to fall out of the scalp. Remember, it’s natural to lose up to 100 hairs a day, which is then multiplied by the number of days without washing. Read more about natural hair shedding and whether not washing your hair leads to hair loss.
However, if you feel you are losing increasingly greater amounts of hair, speak to your doctor or a hair loss specialist. Around 50% of all women will experience hair loss by the time they’re 80, whether due to stress, diet, or female pattern baldness – read more about when you should get professional advice on thinning hair.
The are several ways to minimize damage to your hair during your wash routine:
One particularly popular haircare tip that circulates the internet is that rinsing your hair with cold water will make it shinier. The thinking behind this myth considers how cold water makes the skin pores close, and so will have a similar effect on the hair cuticle and seal it flat, making hair appear shinier. However, while trichologists are often divided on this, contrary to many internet sources there is no evidence that this works in practise.
Another popular idea is that your hair ‘gets used’ to wash routines, meaning that once you start washing regularly you can’t cut back as your scalp will be producing sebum at a faster rate. People also often believe that their hair can get used to new products as often they observe a positive impact with a new wash routine that does not last very long.
Neither of these ideas is true. The hair shaft consists of dead cells (and keratin), and so does not adapt or respond to the washing conditions or products. However, those who use products containing silicones or oils will start to experience a build-up of product similar to the build-up of sebum, and their hair will increasingly appear greasy and limp.
Ultimately, washing your hair every day does not cause significant hair loss on its own. However, improper hair care practices such as harsh shampoos, excessive heat styling, heavy products, and aggressive brushing can lead to hair breakage and damage. Finding the right balance between cleanliness and maintaining your hair’s natural oils is key, and the balance is different for all individuals. By adopting a gentle hair care routine and addressing any underlying issues, you can help keep your locks healthy and beautiful.
Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.