When Bob Marley said, "Trust the universe and respect your hair," he didn't offer a lot of detailed instructions on washing frequency. Of course, Marley was a musician whose own hair had enough personality and swagger to gain the respect of millions of fans from around the world -- not a professional hair expert. Marley's famous quote did, however, empower many to embrace the beauty and uniqueness of their textured hair, even if he stopped short of offering practical haircare advice. But, that's where we come in!
Today, let's pick up where Bob Marley left off. While textured hair is undoubtedly a gift from the hair gods, it does require special attention and care. Understanding how often you should wash it is essential to having healthy, strong hair. Here is everything you need to know about untangling the mystery of how often we, as men of color, should wash our hair.
What Exactly Is Textured Hair?
You can think of textured hair as a funky symphony of follicular wonders. It's like a concert for your scalp, featuring your own unique soulful curl patterns, kinks, and waves, each with its own smooth rhythm and beauty. Specifically, textured hair is characterized by high density and thickness, and bent or twisted hair shafts which create a textured appearance. When compared to straight hair, for instance, textured hair has more shape, volume and dimension.
How Will My Textured Hair Be Damaged If I Wash It Too Frequently?
While washing your hair is essential, over-washing textured hair can cause unhealthy damage, including:
- Dryness: Textured hair is prone to dryness, and our hair's natural oils provide nourishment and moisture retention. When these natural oils are removed by things like excessive brushing, heat, harsh chemicals, or over-washing, it can cause dryness that leads to breakage.
- Frizz: Excessive washing disrupts the moisture balance of textured hair, causing it to become frizzy. Frizz happens when the hair's outer cuticle layer is raised or overly disturbed, allowing moisture from the air into the hair shaft and making it frizzy. Frizzy hair is hair that lacks smoothness and looks unruly and rough, with no clear structure. Frizzy hair sticks out in all directions, has too much volume, and is difficult to tame.
- Scalp Issues: When you wash your hair too often, it messes with the pH balance of your scalp. This leads to a dry, irritated, flaky, itchy scalp that is prone to dandruff. Other, more severe scalp conditions may also occur, such as Scalp Dermatitis, Scalp Psoriasis, or Folliculitis, a condition causing inflammation or infection of hair follicles that appear as itchy pimple-like bumps.
- Over-processing: Shampoos that contain sulfates and soaps have strong chemicals that cause extreme drying out. If you use these shampoos to wash your hair often, they can strip the natural oils and moisture from your hair.
Should Black Men Wet Our Hair Every Day?
Textured hair can be wet every day, and it is recommended that you do so to retain moisture. Let's be clear, though -- wetting is not washing. It's not a good idea to wash textured hair with shampoo daily because it can dry the hair and cause damage (see above).
Instead, keep a spray bottle with water and hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, coconut milk, or rose water on hand for quick touch-ups. Coconut oil and coconut milk both have vitamins and fatty acids that soften and shine the hair. Rose water is also naturally moisturizing and has a pleasant, sweet smell. Spray the mixture all over your hair and scalp, then slowly massage the water in with your fingers. Then, style your hair as usual. On the other hand, you could thoroughly wet your hair in the shower for a complete rinse.
So, How Often Should Black Men Wash Our Hair?
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends washing textured hair either once per week or every other week, as do many haircare experts. However, you should keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and you should take into consideration the following:
- Hair Type and Texture: Your hair type has its own vibe and requires loving care on a personal level. For black men, textured hair properties can vary from one man to the next, each with unique needs, including how often to wash it. Learning your hair type's specific characteristics and needs will help you determine the best washing routine for you.
- Scalp Health: Imagine your scalp as The Wailers (Bob Marley's band) and your hair as Bob Marley. Without the solid foundation and support of The Wailers, Marley may have ended up as "Bob, the Zen Yoga Instructor" or "Bob, the Local Poetry Slam Champion." In other words, it's your scalp that nourishes the roots of your hair and allows your hair to grow in a healthy, lead-singer style. So, if your scalp is oily or has issues like dandruff or product buildup, more frequent washing may be necessary. Reversely, if your scalp is dry or sensitive, washing less frequently will prevent excessive drying.
- Moisture Retention: Textured hair tends to be drier because of its unique structure. Washing your hair too often can strip away natural oils, leaving you with dry and damaged hair. You should also include conditioning and moisturizing in your haircare routine to keep your locks hydrated between washes. You can experiment and find the sweet spot between how often you shampoo and how much moisture your hair retains.
- Personal Preference: At the end of the day, it's all about what feels right for you. Some guys dig that fresh feeling and prefer to wash their hair daily. Others find it easier to manage and keep their hair and scalp happy with less frequent washes. It's your call, and if your scalp and hair aren't forcing intolerable unhealthiness upon you, wash away!