Step away from the shampoo.

By Susan Brickell
March 06, 2019
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One of my biggest hair woes is when I wash and style my strands only to have them looking greasy and unpresentable hours later. What gives? As a (fake) blonde with fine locks, I swear to you that blonde hair gets oilier faster, or at least the oil is more visible. I live life with a bottle of dry shampoo on permanent standby.

Like many other women, I can't stand the sight of grease-ridden roots, so I tend to wash my hair a lot. But, can washing hair too often actually cause more harm to your strands than good?

As much as we might loathe greasy tresses, natural oils (read: sebum) are actually good for your hair, says New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. Sebum conditions and protects your hair, and keeps it soft and easy to manage, she explains.

Below, we asked experts to share exactly how often you should be washing your hair, plus the best ways to keep it looking so fresh and so clean in between shampoos. (Hint: If you're an everyday washer, you might want to reconsider your routine.)

RELATED: 6 Best Shampoos for Oily Hair, According to Hairstylists

Tell us the truth: How often should you really wash your hair?

It really depends on your hair type, how much product you use, and your scalp condition, New York City hairstylist Nicole Stimitz tells Health. While there's no universal rule, over-washing can strip tresses of necessary oils and make hair extremely dry.

Her advice? If you have a normal scalp and hair, wash one to three times per week and don't overdo it with product. Cleaning hair too often has the potential to dry out your hair and scalp, but if you produce a lot of sebum and don't use any harsh coloring (read: bleach) or products that might zap moisture from your strands, you can probably get away with washing more frequently, Stimitz adds.

When you clean your hair on a daily basis, the sebaceous glands in your scalp become overactive, which causes your hair to get greasier sooner, explains Dr. Jaliman. A good compromise would be to wash hair every two to three days or twice a week, Dr. Jaliman tells us. Tie hair up in a silk scrunchie ($10; amazon.com) or invest in a cute shower cap like this heart-printed one ($15; amazon.com) to protect your hair when taking a break from shampooing.

One exception? "If you use a lot of product daily and have an oily scalp, washing every day or every other day can sometimes be necessary," Stimitz says.

What if my roots get super greasy (said in our whiniest voice)?

If your last shampoo was yesterday and yet you still woke up with oily roots, we understand the frustration. Some of us just produce more sebum than others. But even if your roots get greasy fast, Dr. Jaliman cautions that constant washing can still take a toll on strands.

One workaround? Your scalp might be a total greaseball, but your ends are likely fine, so just lather up at your roots, says Stimitz. "If you truly feel like you need to wash every day, use a super hydrating shampoo so you don’t dry it out." Be sure to switch to a sulfate-free shampoo, since sulfate can dry strands and irritate your scalp. Some of our favorite moisture-boosting shampoos: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo ($16; amazon.com), Nexxus Therappe Moisture Shampoo ($19; amazon.com), and Kevin Murphy Hydrate-Me Wash ($34; amazon.com).

How do I keep my hair looking grease-free in between shampoos?

To break your daily washing habit, dry shampoo will be your best friend, says Stimitz. Her pick: Eufora Fresh Effect Dry Shampoo ($23; amazon.com), which is perfect for all hair colors since it doesn't leave a white cast. Dr. Jaliman loves the original Batiste Dry Shampoo ($15 for 3-pack; amazon.com) for its clean (and not overwhelming) scent. Plus, it instantly soaks up excess oil and grease in your hair. Another hardworking drugstore option we like: Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk ($20; amazon.com), which zaps grease, adds volume, and blends well with brunette and blonde locks.

For best results, use dry shampoo within the first three days of washing your hair, says Dr. Jaliman. If you're someone who washes your hair and within a few hours your scalp looks like you haven't bathed in days (hey, it happens), dry shampoo is an effective quick fix. Spray it at least six inches from your scalp, and only to the scalp.

RELATED: The Best Drugstore Dry Shampoos

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