- There are many myths out there about hair loss and what causes it.
- Washing your hair too frequently is one of them, according to hair doctor Anabel Kingsley.
- You should ideally wash your hair every day, and never leave more than three days in between shampooing, she says.
There are plenty of myths out there about how often you should wash your hair. One of those, according to trichologist Anabel Kingsley, is that washing your hair too often will damage it or cause it to fall out.
Many people say that you should only wash your hair once or twice a week, and berate anyone who shampoos any more than that. Kim Kardashian once proudly claimed that she only washes her hair twice a week — but then not everyone is blessed with a Kardashian head of hair.
The common argument is that frequent shampooing will strip the hair of its natural oils and dry it out.
But Kingsley, daughter of the late "celebrity hair doctor" Philip Kingsley who has spent years studying the hair and scalp at their clinic, disagrees.
Speaking from personal experience, Kingsley, who recently spoke out about suffering from hair loss following the death of her father, told Business Insider: "Shampooing can be really really upsetting for people suffering from hair thinning because when you massage the shampoo into your hair all of the hairs that were ready to fall come out at once instead of gradually."
But it's not falling in reaction to being washed too frequently, she said.
It's no different than your skincare regime
"You should think of washing your hair as a a skincare regime, after all your scalp is just skin," Kingsley told BI. "It has oil and sweat glands, and with all of the secretions being produced, added to pollution, you don't want it sitting on there for days."
Hair gets greasy for the same reason that your face gets oily: the glands in the skin produce a substance called sebum, which keeps hair from drying out.
The sebaceous glands that produce sebum sit next to the hair's roots in the layer of skin called the dermis. Channels from the sebaceous glands lead to the hair follicle — that's how sebum secretes onto your scalp. Take a look at this diagram.
"Ideally we say you should wash your hair everyday, and certainly if you have greasy hair," Kingsley said. "Every follicle has an oil gland attached to it and people with fine hair usually have more hairs on the scalp, therefore you'll find hair gets really quite greasy by the end of the day, and the only way to get rid of it is by shampooing.
"If you have really coarse hair and shampooing each day isn’t realistic because you need to use straighteners etc., then you should definitely not leave it more than three days in between."
Hair is tougher than you think
Hair specialists at The Belgravia Centre agree that anyone with greasy hair ought to wash their daily, and say that they usually advise their clients about hair washing on an individual basis, depending on their hair type.
Daiva Valioniene, a Belgravia nurse who specialises in hair loss, added: "If you have thinning hair, washing it more often would be a positive because it can look fuller once it is washed."
The hair shaft is also pretty resilient, according to Kurt Stenn, author of "Hair: A Human History," but the trick is to use a gentle shampoo.
He previously told Business Insider that the hair shaft is "a very tough structure and can handle a lot of trauma, [including] washing."
"In fact," he said, "gentle washing could be done several times a week or even every day if it’s gentle enough. If it’s harsh, then even once a week is going to be too much.
"You should use the most gentle shampoo possible because the hair shaft itself is not growing so it can’t repair itself and once you destroy a shaft it's destroyed."
Flickr / Morten Skogly