Right now, there are thousands (perhaps millions) of guys standing in the shower, staring at their shampoo bottle, wondering if they should wash their hair today. Wash too often and you’ll dry out your hair; skip too many days and you’ll look like a greaseball.
This internal dialogue can drive you crazy, and Googling your way to a solution certainly doesn’t help. By the time you weigh all the contradictory advice, you’re more confused than when you started.
It’s natural to wonder how often you should wash your hair to balance style with sanitation. But you can’t answer that question without answering a bigger question: what are you washing your hair with?
(TLDR: switch to Modern Mammals)
How Often Should Guys Wash Their Hair?
A lot of so-called hair care experts recommend that guys wash their hair 2-3 times per week. However, that’s assuming you wash with a traditional shampoo that probably contains harsh ingredients like ammonium sulfate, which is also used in carpet cleaner (more on that later).
The problem with a one-size-fits-all answer is that it doesn’t take your hair type or habits like exercise into account. For example, if you have fine hair that gets greasy fast, you might get away with washing your hair every other day. On the other hand (or head, rather) if you have thick, curly, or wavy hair you may only need to wash your hair a couple of times per week.
To get a closer look into guys’ hair washing habits, we ventured into the subreddit r/AskMen where a user asked: “Do you guys wash your hair everyday with shampoo when you shower?” This sparked a 100+ comment discussion with a plethora of testimonials.
One guy said he washes his hair every single day because he sweats during the night. One claimed it’s been “years” since he touched a bottle of shampoo and only rinses with water. Outside of those extremes, most fell into the 2-3 washes per week range.
So, what’s wrong with washing your hair every day, especially if you’re a dirty dude?
Is It Bad to Wash Your Hair Every Day?
Many of us grew up worrying that if we didn’t scrub our domes on the daily, we were somehow unsanitary beasts. Whether that’s the fault of our parents or marketing campaigns from multi-billion dollar brands is a debate for another time.
The point is that most traditional shampoos you find in the hair care aisle do more harm than good, especially if you use them all the time. The most problematic ingredients are sulfates, a type of chemical that makes shampoo lather up. Suds and foam might feel good, but they strip the natural oil (sebum) off your hair strands, making it dry and prone to breakage, split ends, and frizzy hair that’s impossible to tame.
Don’t take our word for it though—this study found that rubbing hair with sulfates causes it to lose seven times more protein than rubbing it with water.
When you scrub off your hair’s natural moisture, your head responds by producing even more sebum to compensate. Now you’re stuck in the vicious “shampoo cycle” where your hair is either too dry or too greasy.
Shampoo also wreaks havoc on your scalp. Too much washing can make your scalp feel tight and itchy. If things get really dry, you might even start shedding white flakes of dead skin.
But What If Your Hair Is Nasty AF?
Ok, so you’re sold on the idea that too much hair washing is a bad idea. But what if you work up a sweat at the gym every day or use hair products that need to get rinsed out?
You don’t want to switch to the other extreme of never washing your hair (like some of the Redditors we encountered). A buildup of excess oil on your scalp can lead to dandruff, a chronic condition that causes the skin to flake. Not to mention you’ll feel grimy and gross if you stop washing your hair long-term.
A great workaround is co-washing (short for conditioner washing), which means washing your hair with conditioner and only using shampoo intermittently, like once a week. This lets you de-gunk your hair while preserving its natural moisture.
Some guys say regular conditioner makes their hair too soft and silky, which is why GQ said the best product for co-washing is Modern Mammals: our shampoo alternative that cleans and moisturizes your hair without jacking up your flow.
Wash Your Hair, Worry-Free
As you can see, we’ve added some much-needed nuance to the question of “How often should I wash my hair?” If you’re a shampoo guy (an unfortunate situation) then the conventional advice to wash a couple of times per week may be right for you.
But if you want to wash your hair regularly without worrying about poofy hair and a flaky scalp, join the 21,000+ guys who have escaped the shampoo cycle with Modern Mammals. Once you grab a bottle, you’ll never have to choose between clean hair and healthy hair again.