A healthier scalp and stronger hair start with sudsing up and rinsing the right way.

By Claire Sullivan
April 29, 2021
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wet blonde hair
Credit: Matthew Sprout

Nothing resets your hair like a good wash. But there's more to maintaining a healthy scalp and resilient strands than the lather, rinse, and repeat you probably do on autopilot. Read on for our expert guide, and learn how often you really need to shampoo, the best formulas for different needs, and a fast, foolproof way to send every last bit of suds down the drain. Try it once, and you'll never look back.

Know Your Frequency

To avoid removing natural oils, everyone should limit washes to at least every other day— if not longer, says Los Angeles hairstylist Marissa Marino (if you have coily hair, usually no more than twice a week). "People with greasy hair assume they need to wash more, but overdoing it can cause your scalp to produce more oil." For a shower-free refresh, Marino suggests spraying roots with Waterless Hair Care Dry Shampoo ($6.50, amazon.com), which absorbs excess oil and restores bounce with-out white marks or residue.

Choose the Right Shampoo

Find a formula that targets your specific needs and doesn't contain silicones. "Those cling to your hair and your scalp, which can cause grime buildup and clogged follicles," says Los Angeles hairstylist Chris Appleton. For curls and coils? Proteins in Natura Lumina Curly Hair Hydrating Shampoo ($23, naturabrasil.com) repair damage. Cycle in a weekly conditioning option, like Briogeo Be Kind Be Gentle Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash ($32, ulta.com), too.

For those looking to preserve their color, know that overwashing fades even the freshest dye job. Opt for Color Wow Color Security Shampoo ($23, sephora.com), which is gentle and rinses off readily, so you aren't left with a tone-dulling film. And if you're looking to boost body? Fekkai Full Blown Volume Shampoo ($20, ulta.com) detangles without weighing hair down, thanks to featherlight cottonseed oil and fortifying green-coconut water. If hydration is your goal, put L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo ($8, walgreens.com) on your radar. It does its job gently—harsh soaps are enemy number one for dry locks—and nourishes with rosemary-leaf oil.

Scrub Your Scalp

And don't forget your hairline, including behind the ears and the nape of your neck, where sweat accumulates, says Appleton. If your skin is sensitive, try Neutrogena Healthy Scalp Gentle & Soft Shampoo ($8.74, walmart.com); it softly lifts debris with micellar water.

Rinse Thoroughly

This nixes shampoo buildup, which dulls shine and puts a damper on volume. Follow these steps to douse suds systematically. First, be sure the water is warm—not hot, which will pull out moisture. If your hair is long, part it vertically down the center of your scalp, and pull the sections in front of your shoulders (if not, skip this step!). Next, split your hair horizontally from ear to ear. Lift the top half, position yourself under the stream, and use your fingers to comb through the lower portions. Lastly, drop the top half and repeat the method on the upper sections, working your fingers from roots to ends, and folding down your ears to get behind them. Rinse until the water runs clear.

Weigh a Double Wash

Once is usually enough. But the dirtier your hair, the less lather you'll get, says Appleton. So if you don't feel bubbles, repeat. Los Angeles and New York City hairstylist Justine Marjan also advises two rounds after you've used a lot of styling products, or if you're feeling especially oily, like after a long bike ride. "Think of the first round as a prewash, and the second as a deep clean," says Appleton.

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