Have You Been Washing Your Hair Wrong Your Whole Life?

If you’re reading this blog, then it’s probably fair to say that you care about your hair and you love how you feel after a trip to our busy Plymouth hair salon. The real reason your hair looks (and feels!) so good after a visit to David and David is because professional stylists understand that the key to happy hair is a well-executed shampoo and condition.

Our regular clients benefit from the good advice from our talented stylists about maintaining your hair in between appointments, but you’d be surprised how many people ask us about how often you should wash your hair.

For this reason we thought we’d debunk a few myths here in our definitive hair washing guide! Have you been washing your hair wrong forever? Is your in-shower technique helping you reach your hair’s full potential, or is it actually hindering you?  Find out below…

How Regularly Should You Wash Your Hair?

Washing your hair every day strips oil from your scalp and in turn, encourages hair follicles to produce more oil which leaves hair greasy. This makes you want to wash your hair more, which makes your hair greasier, which makes you wash your hair more, and so the cycle continues… these shampoo manufacturers are cunning! Of course everyone’s hair is different and it depends on your hair’s length, condition and porosity (as well as how active your lifestyle is), but as a general rule you should only wash your hair once or twice a week (and even less if following the Curly Girl Method!). When you go longer in between shampoos it will also give your hair more moisture in the long run and help to break the damaging cycle of over-washing and over-stimulating oily hair follicles.

What Kind of Shampoo and Conditioner Should I Use?

Most shop-bought shampoos and conditioners contain harsh, drying sulphates which can be damaging for the hair (ammonium laureth sulphate, ammonium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate are common ingredients to look out for). These common detergents found in shampoos damage the hair and make it uncooperative. Try using professional salon-approved shampoos if you want salon-worthy hair between appointments. Here in the salon we use (and sell) Keune So Pure range, Boucleme products for our curlies and Moroccanoil shampoo. Feel free to experiment with different products to see what works for you- everybody’s hair is different. Just avoid the nasties found in shampoos which will only serve to damage your hair and put you right back in that cycle of ‘treating’ the damage with the product that is causing the damage!

how often should i shampoo hair

How to Wash Your Hair

So now you’ve chosen quality hair care products, we can let you know how you should be washing your hair. For such a common practice, you’d be surprised at how many people get this wrong!


It may be an eye-opener to learn that shampoo is actually for washing your scalp, not your hair. Technically when you’re shampooing you shouldn’t be washing your hair at all, you should be washing your head; focus on the roots and really work the shampoo in well with your fingertips (not nails!) and avoid applying shampoo to your actual tresses as this will cause tangles and make your hair dry and brittle. If you wash your head really thoroughly rather than just scratching the surface, you’ll need to wash your hair less and the damage will be minimised. The good news is that by washing your head (not your hair), your shampoo will last longer because you only need to use enough shampoo for your scalp. So bottles last a lot longer, bonus!


With conditioner it’s the opposite story… you need to apply conditioner to the bottom two-thirds of your hair (not your scalp) in order to fully drench the hair strands with moisturiser. This will leave it healthier, shinier and by leaving it on your hair for 5 minutes it will really penetrate the hair shaft to  leave it feeling much stronger and less prone to damage.

As with shampoo, everyone’s hair is unique so find a conditioner which works for you and your hair type; a leave-in spray conditioner might feel lighter and less rich than an in-shower version. Those with fine hair may find that they don’t use much conditioner at all, whilst those with thick/curly hair may need to use a leave-in conditioner in order to quench the thirst of dry and brittle hair.

George Northwood, who looks after the hair of Alexa Chung, Meghan Markle and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley says,

“Really wringing out the hair before you apply conditioner really helps too, because excess water will only dilute the product. And apply it particularly to the ends if you’ve had balayage, or if your hair is a bit split and in need of a cut.”

Conditioners are packed with ingredients that are intended to attach to the strand and improve the appearance and health of your hair, but if you don’t rinse them out well you will find unwanted product build-up over time. To combat this we recommend using a clarifying shampoo once a month to help strip some of the residue left by conditioners.

Top tip: Clarifying shampoo is also good for preventing unwanted yellow tones in bleached hair.

how to dry your hair

How to Dry Your Hair

The way you treat your hair post-wash is vital to ensure you don’t un-do all your good work and damage the wet hair when it’s at its most fragile. Using a wide-toothed comb rather than a brush to detangle wet hair will minimise damage.

Hair is a complex structure made from keratin – the same protein in fingernails – and is often described as being like a rope within a rope. The outer protective layer which is made of calcified keratin is called the cuticle, and the centre of this toughened exterior is the cortex. The moment you wet your hair it changes the molecular structure of the strand; when water is applied to hair it swells up and is instantly weakened. The longer hair stays wet the worse its condition becomes – even though hair can absorb just under a third of its weight in water. The constant swelling and slow drying causes hair to crack and leaving irreversible damage so never leave your hair to dry naturally or go to bed with it wet.  

Rubbing hair with a towel may break it and the resulting different lengths of hair strands will look frizzy. After gently towel-drying your hair (dab it, don’t scrub it!), it’s a good idea to use some kind of heat protectant to limit the damage caused by hairdryers and styling tools. Your hair should be fully dry before applying heat to your delicate wet hair, so make sure that it’s fully towel-dried before turning on the dryer. But you knew that right?

When using a hairdryer make sure that you hold the nozzle pointing down the hair to flatten the follicles and maximise shine. By working with the hair shaft rather than against it, you’ll be keeping your hair happy and healthy. Hold the hairdryer 6 inches away and start with a low heat before building up to a hotter setting at the end. Never use straighteners/curling tongs on hair which is near-dry or damp. Your hair must be fully dried to minimise damage to the shaft.

And that, is all you need to know!

Please share your thoughts and your personal top hair care tips over on Facebook or Instagram, we can’t wait to hear from you…!

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