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If you want to start some drama between your friends, ask everyone how often they wash their hair. You’ll hear the ones with a greasy scalp say they have to every day, others say once a week, and maybe a few will even swear by hair training, meaning they scrub their scalp every few weeks or even months. Sounds pretty amazing, right? But it had me wondering: does hair training work? Like, actually work? Let’s get to the bottom of it.
TikTok’s favorite trend, hair training, is also sometimes called “scalp training” or “oil training.” Basically, it involves “tricking” your scalp to produce less oil by washing it less and less frequently. Fans of hair training swear after a pretty yucky period, their scalp just doesn’t feel dirty anymore and they can go weeks or months without shampooing. The trend is getting more popular. One search through TikTok yields millions of results from folks swearing it works for them. But experts say, it’s all BS. In fact, it can do more harm than good. (Sorry in advance.)
Is Hair Training a Myth?
“The issue with extending hair wash days starts with the eventual sebum and product build-up on the scalp that blocks your follicle opening at the root,” said NYC hairstylist and certified trichologist, Shab Caspara. “This can lead to scalp conditions such as inflammation and dandruff and cause hair thinning down the road.” Yes, hair thinning.
So many of us are on hair growth journeys and not washing your scalp and hair can really inhibit your progress. “A blocked hair follicle opening, where the hair grows out of, makes it difficult for hair to grow strong and causes permanent damage to the follicle itself,” Caspara added.
Dr. Isfahan Chambers Harris, trichologist and founder of Alodia Haircare, agrees that hair training is a myth. “Prolonged lack of hair washing can create an environment where bacteria and fungi, such as yeast, can multiply,” she warned. “This can increase the risk of fungal infections, like ringworm or seborrheic dermatitis, which can cause redness, itching, and inflammation on the scalp.”
How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
You might be stressing out right now. I totally get it. I have color-treated hair, I get keratin treatments that I want to last as long as possible, and my frizzy, wavy hair is a pain to blow out. And I’m busy! Washing it and blowing it dry takes too much time. But I’ve realized, it’s worth it. But not every day. Because my scalp is pretty normal (not especially oily), it’s fine to wash it every other day, says most experts I spoke with. Dr. Harris recommends shampooing every 2-3 days for those with straighter hair types and once a week for those with curly or coily hair.
For some Black women, wash day might be even longer, like once every two weeks or longer. Dr. Harris tells her patients to use a supplemental product to balance out the scalp when not cleansing, such as a topical solution, plus an extra scrub when they do shampoo.
“Ideally, washing your hair every other day is a safe bet for maintaining a build-up-free scalp that won’t clog the follicles and hinder the quality of hair growth,” she said. “For those who wash infrequently around every 7-10 days, I recommend a scalp exfoliant or clarifying shampoo every wash day.”
What’s the Best Shampoo for You?
Whether you wash every day or once a week, the type of shampoo you use matters. “If you wash your hair every day with a harsh shampoo, your scalp will overreact to protect itself by producing more sebum as a defense mechanism,” Dr. Harris said. “Washing your hair every day using a gentle shampoo can maintain a healthy balanced scalp.” The opposite is true when extending wash days. “If your shampoo is too gentle and you wash infrequently, your scalp will act out over time and result in flaky or inflamed conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and other scalp imbalances,” she added.
Dr. Harris likes Biotera Ultra Moisturizing Shampoo ($13 at Amazon
) because it’s “designed to preserve the delicate balance of the scalp’s microbiome, providing an optimal foundation for healthy hair.”
Celebrity hair artist Joseph Michael has clients who have to wash every few days and others who can go a week. Regardless, he recommends anyone who uses volumizing products or dry shampoo start with a scalp scrub “to really help clean the scalp and keep the pores clean.”
If you want to wash every day (and you can! It’s healthy!), skip the scrubs and go with a gentle option, like ROZ Foundation Shampoo ($39 at Shopbop), which celebrity hairstylist Mara Roszak created as a safe shampoo option for everyday use. “Every client of mine had a different level of oil production and my main focus and suggestion to them is to regularly remove buildup, it will allow your hair and scalp to breathe, and create a healthy balance from scalp to strands,” she said.
So, there you go. Even if you have bleach-blonde hair, cowboy copper hair, or hair extensions, you have to wash your hair. Hair training just doesn’t work, no matter what the Internet says.