The New York Times recently declared there is a right way to clean your hair. Teen Vogue said you’re washing your hair wrong earlier this year, and Allure claimed there’s a right way to shampoo hair back in 2014. And none of the techniques they suggest are the same.
At HuffPost alone, we have explored several different methods for washing your tresses ― using a cleansing conditioner, skipping a rinse in favor of dry shampoo, and reaping the shiny rewards of apple cider vinegar are just a few.
But here’s the thing: It turns out there isn’t a “right way” to wash hair.
“It really depends on your hair,” Neil Weisberg, a founding partner of Meche Salon in Los Angeles, told HuffPost. “Some people have to wash it every day because you get an oily scalp. Some people only need to wash their hair once a week.”
This makes a lot of sense. There are all different hair types and textures cross-pollinated by many more types of lifestyles. Put it this way: If you have naturally dry hair but you swim in a chlorinated pool every day, you’re probably going to wash your hair ... a lot. And therefore, an expert who says that shampooing more than once or twice a week is too much would be wrong.
So, while there is no such thing as the “right way” to wash your hair, there are a few things you might want to know about shampooing for your specific hair texture. Consider the following a loose guide, not a rule book, for what to do in the shower.
Coarse or dry hair
Anu Prestonia, founder of Khamit Kinks Salon in Brooklyn, New York, says that if you’ve had your hair braided, woven or twisted into a protective hair style, start by wetting the hair, applying conditioner and combing out knots and tangles.
Then use a moisturizing shampoo.
“The primary thing you want to do is make sure the scalp is clean,” Prestonia told HuffPost. Using the balls of your finger tips to massage the scalp will remove oil, debris and buildup. Then rinse the product out of your hair. Prestonia recommends shampooing a second time using slightly less product if it’s been a long time since your last wash.
In what might feel like a reversal of steps, Prestonia suggests to towel dry hair first, then apply conditioner.
“The reason you do a little towel dry first is to get out a little excess water so that the water is not diluting the conditioning treatment,” Prestonia said.
Wavy and curly hair
Embracing your natural hair texture can make life a lot easier: You’ll get ready faster and fuss with your hair less overall.
For bouncy curls and lustrous waves, use a botanically infused, sulfate-free shampoo, according to Shari Harbinger, co-founder of the Deva Curl Academy.
“[In the world of curly hair], it’s hydration every step of the way,” Harbinger told HuffPost. Apply a hydrating cleanser to the scalp, vigorously massaging the cleanser at the roots to stimulate the hair, bring back moisture and remove buildup.
“You want a clear, clean [scalp] so that the naturally derived moisture can penetrate the hair,” Harbinger said.
Then be gentle as you move down the strands.
“Just glide through to the ends,” careful not to massage the hair between your palms, which can cause friction, said Jennifer Loura, a senior stylist at Benjamin Salon in Los Angeles.
Apply conditioner and gently detangle knots with your fingers, starting from the bottom. If you prefer to use a comb, use one with a very wide tooth, Harbinger suggests.
The frequency with which you wash is up to you ― there’s no “right” way. It will depend on your curl type, lifestyle and look. Some people like how their looks with less washing, others prefer the curls of a recent rinse, Harbinger explained.
Oily, thin or straight hair
People with thin hair or oily scalps usually wash their hair more often, according to Nunzio Saviano, hairstylist and owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon.
It sounds counterintuitive, but take your time rinsing the hair under hot water prior to applying shampoo. Doing so will allow the oils and buildup to move through to the bottom of the hair shaft for a cleaner head overall.
“Then when you shampoo, it will lather a lot quicker because most of the oils will be gone,” Saviano told HuffPost.
Saviano says to be gentle as you massage the scalp. Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly and apply conditioner only to the tips of the hair, if at all. Then give it another good rinse under hot water.
Et voilà! You’ve got one clean head of hair ― no matter the texture you have.