I’ve written things in the past about shampooing your hair. I’ve always tried to keep them unbiased, while still getting my message across. But honestly, I can’t tiptoe around the subject any more.

For the love of all that’s holy, WASH YOUR HAIR.

Clients are coming into salons these days with major buildup on the scalp. They have flakes, scalp sensitivity, and SO. MUCH. OIL. These are typical concerns that a stylist addresses, but over the past 5 years, it has gotten drastically worse.

Dry Shampoo can get you by in a pinch. It will soak up some oil and deodorize the smells, but don’t let the name fool you. It doesn’t actually clean anything. We need an actual cleanser because the scalp is a veritable petri dish; it’s warm, moist, dark, and things like pieces of skin, oil, or product residue get trapped there underneath the hair.

If not washed off regularly, these things can cause problems. What problems?

Oily hair. Oil will break down and start to smell. It can also interfere with your color or styling process. (Also, excessively oily hair just looks dirty and gross.)

Buildup. A collection of skin, dirt, product residue, and oils that stay clustered together on the scalp and hair. Buildup often causes itching and can interfere with your color and style.

Dandruff. This appears as yellow, chunky flakes that form on the scalp and then fall off.

Fungus, yeasts, and infections. These can cause sensitivity in the scalp and contribute to other scalp disorders. They can also be harmful to your overall health.

Hair loss. Excessive buildup or excessive use of dry shampoo can clog the hair follicles, which affects growth and loss.

The myth that shampooing your hair is damaging comes from some of the earliest shampoos. They were high in alkaline and would tangle and dry out the hair strands. Shampoos these days, especially professional salon brand shampoos, have very mild detergents and are pH or acid balanced. They also have strengtheners and moisturizers to preserve the condition of the hair, or even to improve it.

Recently, some major beauty magazines and doctors have started speaking out against the no-wash phase we’ve seen the past few years. I love that they’re finally addressing this problem. In fact, more spas and salons are offering services that deep cleanse the scalp because of the problems they’re seeing.

Now, before you get too upset… I’m not saying you have to shampoo every day. I do, but that’s my preference.

I realize that some people can’t commit that much time to styling their hair every day. What I recommend is that, when you DO wash, you get your scalp and hair thoroughly CLEAN. “Shampoo, rinse, and repeat” not just once for that day, but also once for as many days as you went without shampooing. For example, if you didn’t shampoo for 3 days, shampoo at least 4 times. And, if you used dry shampoo on those days, then add an extra shampoo for each day you used dry shampoo. This will keep your scalp clean and prevent any of these side effects from happening to you. If the hair closest to the scalp isn’t lathering well after you’ve done your repetitions, keep going until it does. These days, I often have to shampoo clients 8-12 times to get their scalp clean. For some, even more times. (And we use a special treatment in my salon that cuts through the oil quicker than just your everyday shampoo. That should give you an idea of the extent of the problem we’re seeing lately.)

So even though you may not want to hear what I’m saying, your scalp is thanking me right now. And so are the people you associate with every day.

[Side note to my curly hair readers. I know it can be a lot of work to get your curls to cooperate again once your hair is clean, especially if you have a ton of hair. But you run an even bigger risk of these side effects from not shampooing because you don’t move your hair much. Things stay trapped in place. Good news is, there are so many curl molding products available now that you can still get your clean scalp AND your beautiful curls every single day. And they’ll smell fresh! Talk to your stylist about some curl-specific products to help your clean hair go into place.]