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Monday, 21 November 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Art of Shampooing Your Hair!

Shampooing your hair is a fine art. Trying to balance the frequency of shampooing your hair to keep your hair clean, whilst retaining its healthy condition, can be pretty tricky. Shampooing your hair too frequently can strip it of its natural oils. This can make your hair dry and more prone to split ends and breakage. On the other hand, shampooing infrequently means your hair gets greasy and smelly. So, how often should we be shampooing our hair?
Here’s the science
Your scalp produces a natural oil or wax called sebum,which acts to protect your hair and skin and can stop the growth of bacteria. The pores in your scalp are constantly producing sebum which coats your hair follicles. Although sebum is odourless, when it’s broken down by the natural bacteria on your skin, it can produce an odour, hence the nasty smell of greasy hair.

How often to wash your hair?
As a general rule, hair should be shampooed every 2-3 days at most. Some lucky ladies get away with shampooing their hair twice a week. The even luckier ones (usually those with curly hair) can do it once a week. If you find your hair getting greasy in between shampoos at this frequency, I’d recommend trying a dry shampoo. Spraying this powder based aerosol onto the roots of your hair will absorb the excess sebum and freshen up your hair in between shampoos.
Lather, rinse, repeat!
When applying shampoo to your hair, you should work it in from the roots to the tips. Remember that there’s skin under all that hair, so try and work the shampoo into your entire scalp with your fingertips first. On this first round, your shampoo is unlikely to produce a lot of lather – this just means that it’s working.
Rinse your hair thoroughly (for about 30 seconds) to make sure all the built up sebum and left-over shampoo are washed away. It’s good to work your fingers through your hair whilst doing this to get to the hard to reach areas. As nice as it is to just stand under the shower head and let the water do the work, it’s not very effective at rinsing everything away.
     The last step in the shampooing process is to... repeat the whole thing all over again. The purpose of the first shampoo is not to wash your hair but to clean your scalp and remove all the sebum and dead skin (gross!) since your last shampoo. The second shampoo is needed to clean the rest of your hair and ensure all the dirt and grime is gone. You won’t need to use as much shampoo the second time around there is likely to be more lather. After rinsing your hair should feel ‘squeaky’ clean.
Swap shop
It’s always good practice to change around the brand of shampoo that you use. This is because different shampoos are made up of different ingredients. Your hair can adapt to the ingredients in your shampoo over time, which makes them less effective if used continuously over long periods.
I often find that after using the same brand of shampoo for about three months, the roots of my hair are still greasy after a thorough shampoo. This can be really annoying, especially when you only realise it AFTER you’ve blow-dried your hair. Rotating your shampoos every three months should help you to avoid this nasty phenomenon, but make sure you’re not wasteful. Don’t throw away a full bottle of shampoo just because it’s not cleaning your hair as well as before. Shelve it for a few months and use a different brand, then swap back when you need to. Waste not, want not, eh???

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