HOW often we should be washing our hair always seems to be a topic of debate.
There's the camp that says frequent washing is important – especially after the gym – if you want to avoid greasy, limp locks.
Others argue that it's imperative to wash your tresses as little as possible to keep your them healthy.
Amidst this, the concept of 'hair training'has emerged on TikTok, with videos about the trend have garnered over 160 million views on the app.
'Hair training' is exactly what it sounds like – it involves training your locks to go without a wash for a long as possible, with the goal of making it healthy, luscious and long.
It's seen some creators not wash their hair for weeks.
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TikToker Tink – who goes by @cherries_87 on the app – frequently goes over 30 days without washing her locks.
She recently posted a video about washing her hair for only the tenth time this year.
But Trichologist Kate Holden told Sun Health that going too long without cleaning your tresses might not always be beneficial.
"Shampooing our hair is vital to keep our hair and scalp clean," she explained.
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"It removes the oil, dandruff, dirt, pollution, harmful microorganisms and residue of hair-care products that can cause scalp irritation, and dull, knotty and straw-like hair."
But she added that getting your hair wet can actually damage the strands sometimes.
"When our hair comes into contact with water, the cuticle swells up and the proteins within the hair form weaker bonds," Kate said.
"This makes our hair fragile and prone to breakage.
"Using the wrong shampoo for your hair type can also strip the hair or overload the hair which can lead to damage over time."
For the trichologist, hair washing is always about balance.
"It is not beneficial to go for as long as possible without washing it, but you also don’t want to over wash your hair either," she added.
Is 'hair training' a thing?
Accordin Kate, "hair training is a myth".
She told Sun Health: "You can’t train your scalp to not produce oil, and even if you could, dirt would build-up regardless."
Instead of getting in a tangle about how often you should wash your hair, Kate suggested paying closer attention to your products.
"It’s true that if you are shampooing daily with harsh shampoos, your scalp may create more sebum to try to compensate," she said,
"So reducing how often you shampoo or swapping to a gentler shampoo can help in this case."
The trichologist suggested looking at hair hygiene the way you would for the rest of your body.
"Even though your hair is made of dead cells, your scalp and the hair at the root are alive," she continued.
"While it might save you time to shampoo your hair less often, if you wouldn’t skip washing your face for 30 days, why would you skip washing your hair for that long too?"
Could not washing your hair be harmful?
Kate told Sun Health: "Not washing your hair for long periods of time could certainly be harmful to the health of your scalp and hair."
One consequence of going weeks without a wash could be seborrhoeic dermatitis, a severe form of dandruff causes an itchy, red scalp and yellow, greasy scaling.
"Dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis are predominantly caused by a fungus that lives on the scalp, which feeds on oils and produces an acid called oleic acid," the trichologist explained.
"Around 50 per cent of adults are sensitive to oleic acid, so when the fungus produces this acid, your scalp reacts by becoming irritated, itchy and producing more skin cells to try to protect itself."
Kate warned that not shampooing regularly can mean this fungus has more oil to feed on, increasing the risk that your scalp will become irritated and flaky.
She added: "Seborrhoeic dermatitis and inflammation in the scalp can cause a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, which causes increased hair shedding throughout the scalp."
While it's normal to lose between 30 and 150 hairs daily, depending on your washing and brushing routines, your hair will regrow automatically to replace strands you shed.
About 10 per cent of your hairs are usually in their shedding phase, but telogen effluvium bumps this up to 30 per cent or more, according to the British Association of Dermatologists.
How often should I be washing my locks?
How often you shampoo will have a lot to do with your hair type, according to Kate.
As a general rule, she said: "I recommend that everyone shampoos their hair at least once a week to maintain the best hair and scalp health."
If your hair is thick, coarse, curly or coily hair, just that once a week might suffice.
"If you have straight or finer hair, washing two to three times a week is a good balance," Kate went on.
But if you're prone to dandruff, have a scalp condition or a particularly oily scalp, "washing your hair daily or every other day is advisable", according to the trichologist.
How can I keep my hair looking fresh between washes?
Kate said you shouldn't be extending the period of time in between washes just for the sake of it, advising you to think about why you're doing it.
"It is tempting to get that extra hour in bed, but shampooing is an important part of self-care," she noted.
But say you do want to go an extra day without giving your locks a scrub – the first thing you want to look at is the ingredients of your shampoo.
Two in particular can be useful when it comes to those greasy roots.
"The exfoliant salicylic acid and the anti-fungal ingredient piroctone olamine have been shown to reduce sebum production, so incorporating them into your routine can help your scalp to be less oily," she said.
"You may also want to pay attention to what cleansing ingredient is in your shampoo, some people benefit from stronger cleansing agents like sulphates, other people find them too harsh."
She recommend Noughty’s Back to Balance shampoo, as it contains both sebum fighting ingredients plus gentle cleansers.
"Hot water and massaging your scalp can also stimulate sebum production, so turn down the shower temperature and don’t vigorously scrub your scalp," Kate said.
You can also try double shampooing – that means applying shampoo, rinsing it and applying it again.
And the trick with dry shampoo is to actually spray some in before your scalp gets oily.
All of this will keep your hair looking thicker, healthier and, above all, cleaner!
Tips for thicker locks
- pick the right shampoo – Jack Merrick-Thirlway is creative director at Neville Hair & Beauty previously advised looking out for ingredients such as biotin, collagen, amino acids and products containing vitamin B3
- use products to protect your hair from heat and lower heat settings on your styling tools
- use a good quality hair brush and don't overbrush
- eat your way to good hair – an iron deficiency might have an effect on hair growth
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