How to Wash Your Hair Properly, With Tips From a Stylist

Getty / Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich

At some point, washing your hair becomes a mindless task. Shampoo, condition, rinse, and repeat. It’s as repetitive as brushing your teeth or washing your hands. While, in theory, washing hair is considered a relatively easy task (except for those who have a ton of hair, then it’s a workout), there’s a chance you’re not doing it correctly. Yes, you read that right – there is a correct way to wash your hair.

A good hair-washing routine is important for several reasons, one being that it keeps your hair healthy by removing dirt, excess oil, and product buildup. Plus, what feels better than freshly washed hair? While your hair may look and feel fine after washing it, surprisingly, there are a handful of ways the process can go wrong. For instance, not knowing how often to wash hair, using the wrong shampoo or conditioner, and even rinsing with the wrong water temperature can negatively affect the health of your hair.

Want to know how to properly wash your hair? Ahead, stylists share their expert tips.

Tips For Washing Your Hair

Washing your hair regularly will promote a healthier scalp by removing dirt, excess oil, and product buildup. It will also help alleviate issues like dandruff, dry skin, and flakiness. “The accumulation of oil and dead skin cells may create an environment for the growth of fungi or bacteria,” Rogério Cavalcante, stylist and owner of The Second Floor Salon, tells POPSUGAR.

A tip celebrity hairstylist Jamie Wiley shares with anyone looking to wash their hair the right way is to ensure you’re using the correct products for your hair type. Ask yourself, “Do you have color? Is your hair fine, medium, or thick? Do you have straight, wavy, curly, or coily hair?” she says. All of this plays a factor in the product that you choose.

For example, if you have curly hair, Wiley says you might want to opt for a more nourishing and strengthening shampoo and conditioner or even a deep conditioner. If your hair is straight and you use styling products on it regularly, using a clarifying shampoo that removes buildup, therefore adding volume to limp ends, may work best for you.

“Please, never use a two-in-one type of shampoo that also contains conditioner,” Cavalcante says. “Cleaning and conditioning are distinct processes; cleaning involves opening the hair cuticles to remove oil and dirt, while conditioning helps to smoothen the hair cuticle, adding healthy oils for improved hair texture.” These processes are better performed separately.

Before washing your hair, you should keep these three rules provided by Cavalcante in mind:

  • Avoid Hot Water: Cavalcante suggests using lukewarm water in the shower to prevent dryness. This is important for all hair types.
  • Massage Your Scalp Gently: A gentle scalp massage stimulates blood flow and removes buildup.
  • Use Conditioner Appropriately: Apply conditioner mainly to your ends where hair is typically drier, and leave it on for at least a couple of minutes to ensure it has time to work its magic.

How to Wash Your Hair Properly

Ahead, Whiley is sharing a step-by-step guide for how to wash your hair the right way.

  1. Prep your hair by brushing it before getting in the shower. This will make it free of tangles and knots, especially for those who have wavy, coily, or curly hair.
  2. Wet your hair in the shower before applying your shampoo, no matter what hair type you have. This will help open the hair cuticles and allow the product to penetrate better.
  3. Apply your shampoo next; how much you’ll need depends on how much hair you have. Pour it into the palm of your hands and emulsify to activate all the ingredients before working it into your roots. This is the perfect time to give yourself that gentle scalp massage Cavalcante mentioned. You don’t need to shampoo the ends of your hair as the product will naturally travel down there when you rinse.
  4. Rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water until it’s free from any suds. This may take a little longer for those with thicker hair.
  5. Apply your conditioner to your hair. “Apply conditioner from mid strands to ends for fine to medium hair types,” Wiley says. “For curly or coily hair, apply conditioner from scalp to ends.” You can use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product evenly and detangle your hair again.
  6. Rinse the conditioner out thoroughly. Ensure all of the product is out of your hair to prevent possible dryness and excess oil, especially if your hair is on the thinner side.
  7. Towel dry your hair with a microfiber towel. Doing so may work well with all hair types, specifically for those with curly and coily hair. “This will prevent frizz and friction, which reduces split ends and unnecessary frizz.”

Hair-Washing Mistakes

The biggest mistake Wiley sees is people applying conditioner to the scalp, especially for medium and fine hair types. “This will give the hair the appearance of being oily even though it was just washed,” she says. “By keeping the conditioner from mid strands to ends, you will avoid looking oily, and you can go longer in between washes.”

Wiley also sees a lot of overuse of shampoo because it’s not being emulsified prior to application. “Shampoo is meant to be worked together in your hands before applying. You will use less product, and it will work better for you,” she says. Overwashing is another big mistake Cavalcante sees people make. “Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of natural oils, leading to dryness,” he says. “On the other hand, not washing enough may result in oil and product buildup. I know a lot of people wash their hair daily, but it is not recommended.”

The water temperature is another area where many people mess up. “This is a hard one to avoid, especially during wintertimes, but hot water can strip the hair of essential oils, leading to dryness and damage,” Cavalcante says. Use lukewarm water, and if you can endure it, finish your washing process with a cold rinse. Your hair will thank you.

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