That actress on the cover of
People has glossy, gorgeous hair--and she may attribute those luscious locks to
the latest beauty trend. Instead of washing their hair daily or every
other day, people following this trend wait almost a week between shampoo sessions.
"The theory behind it is that frequent shampooing will rid the hair
of its natural oils, which robs the hair of shine and moisture," says
Phillip Cecchini, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at
Mission Heritage Medical Group. "But waiting a week isn't necessarily good for your scalp and
That's because those oils can breed the fungus that causes seborrheic
dermatitis--better known as dandruff. Too much oil in the hair can lead
to the scaly, itchy skin and flakes on the scalp that are a result of
seborrheic dermatitis, and that may call for special shampoo treatments
to tame the problem.
"A lot of it comes down to the condition of your hair and scalp,"
Dr. Cecchini says. "People who have an oily scalp may need to wash
their hair frequently to keep the oiliness under control. But then there
are people who have dry, curly or chemically treated hair, or people who
are older and their scalps don't produce as much oil. Those people
can possibly go an extra day or two between shampoos because too much
oil is not an issue for them."
For many people, a maximum of three days between shampoos should be fine,
says Dr. Cecchini. "You can play around with it--see how your hair
reacts after washing it every other day compared to every three days.
Whenever you wash your hair, shampoo the scalp and don't worry about
the rest of your hair as much. You'll also want to use conditioner,
concentrating mostly on the ends of the hair. Conditioner will boost the
hair's shine and appearance, and it helps protect the strands from
Dr. Cecchini also recommends that people use shampoos and conditioners
geared toward their type of hair. "People with curly or dry hair
should use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner; some brands make "co-washes,"
in which a conditioner is used as a shampoo. There are also shampoos and
conditioners for people with oily hair, chemically straightened hair and
colored hair." And everyone should treat their freshly washed hair
with care--gently comb out tangles to avoid breakage and use blow dryers
and curling irons as little as possible to prevent heat damage.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.