You’ve been washing your hair for decades, perhaps, and you’re wondering what we could possibly say that you don’t already know. But when we do things so automatically without much thought, the nuances go unnoticed, and in this case, your hair may not be getting the attention it needs. So pretend you’ve never washed your hair before and learn how all over again through improved methods like hair cleansing.
The Three Forces
There are three forces that work together to get hair clean. One is chemical, supplied by your cleanser. The second is thermal, provided by warm water. The third is mechanical, or massaging with your fingers. All are equally important, though we’ve come to depend on the chemical hair products doing most of the work due to the cleansing power of modern shampoo (learn how it evolved here).
The skin replenishes itself every 28 days on average, and unless you scrub your scalp occasionally, dead skin cells can accumulate and clog the hair follicles. Dermatologists claim that washing hair can reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the hair follicles, which is associated with thinning hair in women.
Once you’ve decided how often to wash your hair, it’s time to observe how you wash.
Step 1: Make sure your hair is tangle-free
Brushing your hair before cleansing your hair can save you a lot of trouble later. Before you set foot in the shower, gently brush out any knots starting from the ends and making your way upward to avoid potential breakage – and give you fewer tangles to deal with after the shower.
Step 2: Wet your hair with very warm water
Too hot water Water that is too hot may result in damaged hair by raising the cuticles – and allowing pigment to escape if you’re have color-treated hair. On the other hand, too-cool water won’t dissolve the oils and dead skin on your scalp.
Step 3: Massage your entire scalp with your fingertips, not your nails
When you apply your cleanser, make sure to coat everything well. Massage your entire scalp with your fingertips (not your nails) using quick, short, vigorous yet gentle strokes. A shower brush with silicone bristles works as well if not better; it also helps distribute your cleanser to the roots and can help with rinsing.
If you’re hesitant to scrub your scalp because you think you’ll be scooping more hair from the drain, rest assured that about 100 strands of hair fall out of your head every day and 100 more start growing. If you’ve been trying to wash less often because you were told it will make your hair grow faster, fear hair loss, you’ll likely see more dislodged at once when you do wash. Don’t freak out, but do keep an eye on it if you’re facing growth challenges.
Step 4: Rinse your hair thoroughly, with cold water to reseal the cuticles
Use cold water to reseal the cuticles if you can stand the chill; many people swear by the general health benefits of the cold plunge, including this guy, but that’s up to you. Whatever the temperature, just make sure you rinse very thoroughly.
Step 5: Dry and comb
Luckily, cleansers like New Wash are naturally hydrating so you won’t need to lather on the conditioner. See our other article to learn more about what conditioner does for your hair and if it’s really necessary.
When you’re finished – many of you will also use conditioner but that’s another article – gently squeeze most of the water out with your hands and then press your hair dry with a t-shirt or microfiber towel to soak up the rest of the water. Avoid rubbing to avoid tangles and frizz.
Then, comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb, easing out tangles – which you shouldn’t have if you’ve conditioned sufficiently from bottom to top before combing down from the roots. Be gentle – wet hair is delicate, stretchable, and breakable, and rough handling, i.e. brushing, at this stage can damage it.
If you need to blow-dry, wait as long as you can until your hair is merely damp – not soaking wet – to minimize the amount of time you expose it to heat – and follow these rules for safe heat styling.
Selecting your cleanser
Now, let’s talk about your choice of hair products. We challenge you to give up traditional shampoo. That doesn’t mean giving up clean hair but it does mean saving your hair and skin from drying, irritating detergents that result from shampooing your hair. Washing your hair without shampoo actually is possible and oftentimes healthier for your hair. We have built an entire business upon a shampoo alternative, appropriately called New Wash to help you retain moisture and avoid damaged, dry hair. Women have been using oil-based methods to cleanse their faces for decades now; why not hair and scalp too? New Wash respects the natural, hair-preserving process of the sebaceous glands, and relieves your scalp from being in a constant state of recovery after assault by over-cleansing. 3 formulas cover any type of hair; take this quiz to find the best one for you and discover a healthier hair care routine.
So with a little prep, the perfect water temperature, and a stimulating massage with a gentle cleanser you can make sure your hair – and your scalp – are not just clean, but also happy.