Your Complete Guide Explaining How to Wash Your Hair The *Right* Way
Hair washing is not as simple as hopping in the shower for 5 minutes and scrubbing your hair with some generic shampoo and conditioner. You might think you know how to wash your hair, it's your hair after all. But I’m here to tell you that you’re probably not washing your hair the right way it deserves. Just like all self-care trends, there is a process!
- The average person should only wash their hair two to three times a week max because overwashing your hair can lead to breakage, and hair loss.
- If you can avoid any hair care ingredient, make sure that you’re avoiding parabens and sulfates at all costs!
- The hair washing process is a long drawn out process, but completely worth it at the end of the day.
Overwashing your hair:
Let’s start with the basics. How often should you wash your hair? It honestly depends on your hair type and the amount of damage it has. But on average, everyone should at maximum be washing their hair about three times a week.
When I learned this fact from my hairdresser a few years ago, I was in complete shock…I loved the clean feeling of washing my hair every single night. However, I didn’t realize that overwashing my hair was stripping it of its natural oils and making my hair appear more damaged and brittle.
Ever since I've started washing my hair less frequently, I have noticed a huge difference in the rate of growth, thickness, and overall shine.
It does take time to see the difference, though. When you decide you want to start washing your hair less, you have to train it. This means that it may be really oily for a few days and you'll be so tempted to wash it. But once you go a few weeks with washing your hair infrequently, then you’ll start to see your hair stay fresher longer.
Type of products you are using:
Now maybe you aren’t washing your hair very frequently, but you still feel like your hair is oily and damaged. Well, this might be explained by the type of products you are putting in your hair. Not every shampoo on the market cleans and strengthens your hair. Actually, most of them contain harsh chemicals that cause more harm to your hair than good.
DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT use any shampoo or conditioner that contains parabens and/or sulfates!!! They are so so bad for your hair and scalp and will cause extreme dryness, hair loss, and fading of color.
Avoid all of these hair care common ingredients:
So what ingredients should you be looking for in your hair products (mostly plant-based):
- Coconut oil
- Organic honey
- Essential oils
- “Sulfate and paraben free” labels
Extra products you should be implementing into your routine:
- Scalp massager
A what? Massaging your scalp can help blood flow to your scalp, providing your hair with many benefits. Increased blood flow to your scalp can help with hair growth and thickness. All you need to do is gently rub your scalp for 5 minutes at least once a day (using your fingers or a scalp massager), and I guarantee within a few months you’ll see crazy results.
- Hair masks
All parts of your body need some extra care sometimes. Hair masks are the perfect solution to providing your hair with extra nourishment and helping it to rebuild.
- Leave-in conditioner
With my hair constantly being knotty, a leave-in conditioner is my saving grace. This provides extra nourishment to your hair while helping to detangle the strands. However, you should only apply a leave-in conditioner after you wash your hair (which should only be max a few days a week like we discussed) or it can start to dry your hair out.
- Bonding oils
It’s literally what it sounds like – oils that help bond your hair together to increase its thickness. It also can be a huge help with taming flyaways and producing ample shine.
- Other oils
When using any oil in your hair routine, you should always refer back to the famous “less is more” quote. Oils are great in small quantities, but you should be extremely careful not to overuse them otherwise your hair will look greasy and damaged.
The actual hair washing process
You may need to brace yourself for this one. If you spend on average 10-15 minutes on your hair during wash days, prepare to double that time. It’s time to transform that brittle hair into those long locks you dream about.
1. Start with lukewarm water
When you begin to run your hair under water, please by all means make sure it is not scorching hot. Hot water damages hair follicles, causing breakage and the inability to form thick and shiny hair. It’s so important to always make sure you are using lukewarm water to wash your hair.
Once you’ve picked a shampoo that suits your hair type (with no sulfates and parabens as discussed above), you should only squeeze out a dime size onto your palm.
The complicated part is more about how you use the shampoo. Make sure that you are not rubbing the shampoo through your hair in a circular motion, and that you are applying very minimal pressure. Next, only rub it into your scalp area and not the end of your hair, since the shampoo will make its way down there as you are washing it out.
Rub it in for about thirty seconds (or take this time to do your scalp massage) and proceed to fully rinse it off. But don't stop there! The first round of shampoo was purely to remove any build up in the hair, while the second actually cleans the scalp. Repeat the same process for the second cleaning and make sure the shampoo is fully rinsed out at the end.
Tip: Instead of shampooing your hair in circular motions like we were all taught, try rubbing it in one direction just down to the hair shaft.
3. The middle step
You should only apply this step to your routine every 3rd or 4th time you wash your hair. This is the part where you would apply your hair mask. After you shampoo, gently pat your hair so that it's damp when you apply the mask. Let the mask soak into your hair for about 15-20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing out. Every strand of hair should have some of the mask on it!
Conditioner should be applied the exact opposite way as shampoo. Start rubbing the conditioner into your hair mid-way down and then all the way to the bottom in smooth downwards motions. Once the bottom half of your hair is covered, let it sit for five to seven minutes.
If you want to take it a step further you can use a wide tooth comb and gently brush through your hair as you’re letting the product soak in. This helps to add extra softness to your hair and immediately prevents tangles once you get out of the shower. Also, if you have fine hair, make sure that you get every morsel of the conditioner out of your hair when you are rinsing it out. Leaving some of it in can create residue and build-up in your hair which stalls the hair transformation goal.
5. Cold water
Turn the handle all the way to the left once you are done conditioning. Always finish your wash with about 30 seconds of running your hair under cold water. The cold water helps to close the hair cuticle and lock in all the benefits of your wash!
6. After wash care
The process doesn’t end after you get out of the shower. Don’t even think about wrapping your hair up into a heavy towel for “optimal speed drying”. Towel wrapping weighs the hair down, pulling at the scalp which can potentially cause hair loss and thinning.
Instead, wrap your hair up into a light cotton t-shirt and hold it there for 10 minutes. Once your hair is damp but not soaking you can apply your leave-in products. Start with a good leave-in conditioner and apply it to the ends of your hair (remember that less is more).
Once your hair has dried a little more - but not all the way - you can use a comb to start brushing through it. Make sure that you are not brushing right through the knots, and that you are instead working your way through them with the comb and your fingers to cause minimal breakage. Let your hair air dry the rest of the way. Once your hair is dried, apply a very small amount of bonding oil to the very end tips of your hair. This will help rebuild the hair follicles and give it that extra shine!
I bet you didn’t realize how much work goes into proper hair care maintenance. Obviously, a lot of this routine plus the products need to be modified based on your individual hair type and hair state, but this is a good starting point. Start investing in your hair today and I guarantee your hair will be salon-grade after every wash.
Written by Emma Carlson
- Photo by Ismail Hadine on Unsplash