If you have curly hair, daily cleansing with the wrong products can dry and damage your curls.

It seems simple, right? Take a shower and wash your hair daily. Wrong! Washing your hair may seem like a simple task, but you would be surprised how many people are doing it wrong.

Washing your hair incorrectly can lead to scalp irritation, dandruff, and other scalp issues. How often someone decides to wash their hair is a personal choice, although a standard can be set according to one’s lifestyle and hair type. I wash my hair once every two weeks with shampoo and co-wash weekly just to refresh my strands. I can do that because of the products I use and my lifestyle, but that can change with changes in my habits too. Certain hair types and textures only require washing once a week, while others feel best when washed 2-3 times a week.

Thick, coarse hair or tight curls and coils

Shampooing can be the last thing on your mind, since you only need to wash your hair no more than once a week, or once every 2-3 weeks if your hair does not feel dirty. Daily washing is a bad idea as this would be too drying for your hair.

To refresh in between washes, try co-washing your hair with water and conditioner, or water wash. Water washing means that you massage your scalp using just water, no shampoo, cleanser or conditioner. Some people do this in between their co-washes and shampoos.

Medium curls and waves

You can afford to shampoo once a week. If you skip a day or two, no need to worry because your curls will look great with a little refreshing. Curls can work well when they have a small amount of oil in them. If you work out frequently, you may need to co-wash in between shampoos. You can also water wash between co-washes.

Fine curls and waves

You have a fine hair texture; by the evening your hair may seem oily, especially when you use styling products daily. Depending on your scalp, you may find that co-washing makes your hair appear oily the first few times you do it. Experiment with co-washing over time, you may find that the oiliness subsides. If you find that it’s not for you, try to prolong the length of time between shampoos by using dry shampoos or sticking to light stylers and refreshing with water rather than a product. At the very least, cut down on daily shampoos and minimize your wash days to once every 2-3 days.

Of course your hair type is not the only contributing factor, for example your porosity and your city’s water qualities will also affect how often you wash your hair.

We realize that there is not one right answer when it comes to hair care – which can lead to some confusion. We constantly get questions on this topic, like this one from our reader posted this question in Curly Q&A.

"How often should I wash my hair? I usually wash my hair once a week, my hair doesn't stink, it doesn't feel dirty, it doesn't look dirty.....I just don't really like it. Also I don't like to do anything like twisting or just anything new until the day before I wash my hair or the day I actually wash my hair (Saturday). So is washing it once a week really necessary?" -   NaturalDude 

No, washing weekly is not necessary for everyone so that weekly standard is for persons who find it fits into their lifestyle. An easy guide is to follow these three rules.

1. Wash when hair is dirty

There is no need for a wash day schedule just because we are used to one. Wash your hair when it is dirty and that can be anywhere from 1-3 weeks for some, although for many two weeks are just fine when you have coily hair. We will share some guidelines on different hair types below. “Washing” means cleansing with a shampoo or cleansing conditioner, not just re-wetting hair and running conditioner through it. Many run conditioner through their hair just to refresh it and to keep it going until cleansing is necessary. Some months may require more washing (when you are working out more, swimming, etc.), so do not feel the need to stick to a wash schedule if it does not work for you.

2. Wash when you have buildup

Buildup is not always dirt. Oftentimes it is product buildup. Just like you put hair in twists the day before wash day, I do something similar when I use silicones. I know it will cause buildup by day two, so I do not use it until it is time for me to wash my hair. There is no way I am walking around with buildup for a week so I schedule certain hairstyles according to my wash schedule.

3. Experiment on washday schedules

The best way to determine if two weeks would be a better fit for you is to try it. If washing weekly is just too much then stop and go longer like a week and a half or two weeks. Going longer than that may be such a great idea but know that just because you are not washing so often does not mean you cannot wet your hair and keep it moisturized. Do not lock yourself into a regimen out of habit but more out of a fit into your life. If your hair is not dirty, go an extra week and see how it fares.

How often do you wash your hair?


Every 2-3 days

Once a week

Every 10 days

Every 2 weeks

Every 3 weeks

make quizzes


This article was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.

Sabrina Perkins

Sabrina, founder of seriouslynatural.org and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

Never heard something so ridiculous.. I have been washing my hair everyday and I have it splendid. lice hasn´'t anything to do with the frequency of washing yr hair!!.. and dont dind the code for my hair is the appropriate one!! mine doesnt stick to my head..is lightly wavy but is not flat..I have great hair ..

Y'all... lice don't care how you take care of your hair! In fact, I've been told it's easier for them to hang out on a clean head of hair! :P Just sayin'.

I love this question, because I always shout at the computer screen, "NEVER!" I have a cross between 4a 4b hair and I rarely use shampoo and if I do, it literally is once every two months, I'll use clarifying shampoo and that's only because I was in the pool and I don't want chlorine eating my hair. My hair prefers the oils of my cheap suave conditioner; coconut or the vanilla one, they are very creamy, then I use and olive oil hair gel you can get at Sally's. I rinse my conditioner well and then, slather on a palm of gel in my dripping hair, smoothing the gel on every strand, finally I give a good hair shake, which helps the curls bounce out. I get tons of compliments on my hair on a regular basis, my straight haired friends totally have hair envy. I definitely love it. ;-D

yo no me lavo el pelo con champoo todos los dias pero mojarlo si que lo mojo para que la espuma no se quede pegada a el pelo, tengo un pelo muy fino y brillante pero tengo mucho volumen

I cowash about everyday:)

i have fine hair. it is very, very dense. i have type 4 hair. i counter against this article. i wash my hair every 3-4 days with a sulfate free shampoo and my hair is healthy and styled nicely. generalizations will never define regimens.

I have 2c hair like DianaCosta, and I too wash my hair pretty infrequently. If I want to wear my hair down, I wash every 3 or 4 days. If I want to go longer between washes (uh, yeah, I'm lazy sometimes!), putting my hair in a ponytail or bun is a great option. I'm about to cut my hair up to my shoulders though, so the pineapple isn't going to be an option anymore! I wonder how this will affect my lazy routine...

Hi, I have wavy 2c hair and i wash my hair once or twice a week. Maybe it's because it's very dry and doesn't get oily easily. But i tried to wash it day yes day no, and i realised that the more i washed the faster it would get oily...so i returned to the once/twice a week wash. And my hair is much healthier. I think that washing to many times only makes your body to produce more oil...at least that's what happened to me. bye :)

I just started a low poo routine about a month ago using Miss Jessies. Was very unsure at first, but now I only need to wash every 2-3 days when going curly. If I straighten, I can go even longer. I am currently on day 9 of no washing. Just had to brag to people who will get how awesome that is.

Shampooing hair incorrectly does NOT cause lice. Lice has nothing to do with personal hygiene.

Hi , i am using an 100 all natural shampoo and conditioners called Beauty 4 Ashes , and i have type 4a hair since it is also natural would it be drying if i washed twice a week and co washed once a week?( i also work out so i like to wash my hair because i hate having the feeling of sweat in my hair)

I wash my hair every week, and do a deep conditioner also. I use shampoo about once a month, because I am low on silicones and virtually no mineral oil. So I definitely agree with that assessment.

I have fine to medium textured curls and I co-wash my hair every day. I just love the feeling of clean hair and scalp and giving it a good massage in the process. It isn't a chore, it's as natural to me as brushing my teeth! Other people prefer not to wash their hair every day. Whatever works for each individual curly head.