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How to wash curly hair and how often to do it?

Curly hair can be tricky to manage, but at least you don’t have to wash it as often. Or do you?

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests that if you have curly hair you don’t need to wash it as often. 

Some recommendations say that you should wash curly hair as little as once every 2-3 weeks. Why can you get away with washing curly hair less often?


Our scalps secrete a fatty substance called sebum – it’s what we talk about when we mention oily or greasy hair. 

As we go about our day, the sebum on our scalp is quietly worked through our hair strands. Unless your hair is curly. 

In curly hair, the oil doesn’t travel down the hair as easily as it does on straight hair, so it can be longer until hair looks “dirty.” Which is good right? 

If it takes longer for our hair to get oily, then obviously it can go longer without a wash. Unfortunately, this is a bit of an incomplete picture


The problem with the idea of not washing curly hair very often is that it ignores one very important question: Where is all the oil going? Your body makes scalp oil every day.  Thanks to the shape of curly hair, oils struggle to travel down the length of the hair strand and so tend to build up close to the scalp.  And that can be a problem. 

So while it might look like your hair is dry, excess oil can be hidden just beneath the curls. 

And as you build up oil, that could lead to scalp flaking and dandruff. That’s because in-between washes, scalp oil becomes oxidized and is breaks down into potentially irritating substances like oleic acid.  

These cause your scalp to be itchy and uncomfortable, and in some people, can lead to flakes.


The answer is that you should wash curly hair far more often than you think – at least once a week, and more if you’re active. 

Pay particular attention to cleaning build up from your scalp. You can do this by picking a scalp care shampoo that cleans well and massaging it into your scalp directly.  This will help protect your scalp from irritants in-between washes. 

Then use an anti-dandruff conditioner to smooth your hair and help prevent dandruff, keeping your scalp nourished and comfortable. 

This combination will also help protect your hair, and ward off the bane of all curly haired folk: the dreaded frizz. 

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