Great hair isn’t just about a good blow out, it starts in the shower! It begins with a combination of perfectly prescribed products and a thorough wash, of course. Read below to figure out what you’re doing right or may be doing wrong to your fabulous tresses.

What is Shampoo?

Shampoo, derived from the Hindi words “champo” meaning massage and “champna” to press, is a substance typically made up of a surfactant and a co-surfactant that aids in the cleansing of your hair.

How Should You Shampoo?

Washing the hair is quite simple even though its often done incorrectly. A good shampoo consists of three easy steps:

  • Pre-soak
  • Lather
  • Rinse

The Pre-soak

The first of the three steps, pre-soaking your hair, is often skipped. The pre-soak may sound like it will add more time to your shower, but in fact it can save you time in the long run, as well as save you money in terms of product.

For the pre-soak I recommend using hot water, not scalding hot water, more like a comfortable Jacuzzi-ish temperature. You’ll want to make sure to let the water run through your hair for about a minute, allowing the cuticle to open while rinsing out dirt and debris. Once the hair is thoroughly wet, change the water temperature to luke warm; too much hot water can dry out your hair.

Lather Up!

When your hair is fully soaked, apply a small amount of shampoo to your hands (for thin hair, use an amount of shampoo comparable to a penny, for medium hair use an amount the size of a nickel and for thick hair, use an amount about the size of a quarter). Overusing product can be costly and not ideal for your hair, watch your amounts!

It’s important to note that shampoo is intended to be applied to the roots of the hair only.

The scalp naturally produces sebum, or oil secretion, which attracts dirt and other debris. Rub your hands together, adding a little water to start the sudsing process, and then apply the shampoo to the top, sides and the nape of your hair, an inch back from the hairline, using your fingers to distribute the shampoo evenly over the scalp.

Lather your shampoo in up-down and back-forth motions, avoiding circular motion, as that type of motion can damage your hair.

Time to Rinse

Rinsing is equally as important as the previous two steps. I strongly advise that you don’t skimp on rinsing your hair. Not rinsing your hair adequately enough can lead to a buildup of product which results in heavy hair and lackluster shine, which in turn can require an increased frequency in washing. The adage, “do it right the first time and you won’t have to do it again” applies to so many things! Doing the dishes, putting your clothes away and even washing your. Even if you’re tired, lazy or just in a rush, remember to take the extra time to rinse your hair thoroughly.

Hair Washing Tips and Tricks

  • If your hair is not lathering up nicely at first, try adding more water. Shampoo needs water in order to work and if you don’t add enough, its scrubbing power won’t be activated.
  • If your hair is in need of an intense wash, let the shampoo sit for a minute after you’ve massaged it into your roots so it can work is scrubbing magic, then massage again and rinse.
  • If there is a lot of product in the hair, such as leave-ins, mousse, or hairspray, or if you use extenders (dry shampoos or dry conditioners), you may need to shampoo twice. Remember to pre-soak the hair, apply shampoo, massage, lather and rinse normally, then repeat. If you’re shampooing a second time, its okay to not rinse as thoroughly the first time around.

Shampoo Q&A

Now that you’ve been schooled in Rockstar Wash 101, let’s take it a step back and answer one of the most popular shampooing questions.

How Often Should I Wash My Hair?

There is no one right answer that applies to everyone when it comes to hair washing frequency. However, I do have a few tips for helping you figure out a washing cycle that suits your haircare needs.

Our scalps produce oil, not our hair. However, hair relies on these oils for moisture and protection. Think of these oils as you would the shiny paint of a new car. In order to protect that paint a coating of wax can be applied, providing a small but mighty barrier that protects against minor scratches, sun damage and fading. Like the car’s wax coating, the oils that are produced by our scalps, with the aid of gravity and daily hair brushing, coat our hair strands, giving them a small but mighty protective shield. This shield prevents the hair from losing moisture and from color fading, as well as reinforcing other types of damage.

This does not mean that not washing your hair ever is the answer. Too much of a good thing can be bad! If we allow too much oil to collect, it can not only weigh the hair down, but it can also clog our the hair follicles. A good rule of thumb for optimal hair health is allow three to four days between washes. How is this possible you ask?

Speaking from Experience

I myself have suffered oily hair in the past. I tried washing my hair every day, sometimes twice a day. When I began training as a professional cosmetologist, I learned how harmful generic retail products could be to the hair. I quickly switched to professional grade products and soon after the upgrade I was shampooing only once a day, sometimes every other day even.

It was rough at first. I felt subconscious about my scalp oils, but after a week or two I noticed my hair was no longer greasy by the end of the day. I then started shampooing every two days and after some experimentation found that every two days was my optimum washing schedule. I even started receiving compliments on how shiny and healthy my hair looked!

My product of choice at the time was Redken Pillow Proof 2-day Extender (a dry shampoo). I was able to go up to three days between washes! My new favorite is Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo. Not only do I love the smell but it includes a bonus perk for absorbing excess oils at the root, as well as allowing me to really go as long as I need in between washing with a traditional wet shampoo. My hair has never felt softer or healthier!

If you find yourself washing your hair every day or twice a day, first try cutting back. It may take a little while for your scalp to get use to you not stripping it of its natural healthy oils but it will eventually catch up. Try a dry shampoo, using a dry shampoo between washes can help get you out of the bad habit of every day washing. Dry shampoos allow your hair to be protected by your natural oils, but will absorb the excess, lending a perk to your second day hair.

If your issue isn’t excess oil, but instead the opposite, don’t miss my next article on conditioners. I will be covering masks, deep-conditioners, rinse-outs and leave-ins. I will explain how to choose the right product to suit your hair needs, as well as various application techniques and professional treatments.

I will also be posting in-depth articles about product ingredients in the near future, as well as a review of my favorite dry shampoos, stay tuned!