Many people may be shocked to learn that daily hair-washing wasn’t always the norm. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that this trend was widely adopted in the U.S. As it turns out, our parents and grandparents had the right idea when it came to hair care. Daily washing strips your locks of essential oils, leaving them dry, brittle and unnourished. Although conditioning helps somewhat, it’s no substitute for the oils created by your own body. Of course, this isn’t to say that hair-washing is bad; it simply needs to be done in moderation. If you’re unclear on the right time to wash your hair, take the following tips to heart.

When Your Scalp is Dirty

It’s important to remember that your scalp is very different from the rest of your skin. Not only is it more sensitive, it also needs to retain a large portion of its natural oils. It may surprise you to learn that your scalp doesn’t often get dirty enough to warrant washing. A day at the office followed by an evening in front of the television won’t expose your scalp to enough dirt and environmental pollutants to justify shampooing it. Conversely, if you work a messy job – like construction, sewer maintenance or landscaping, daily washing may be necessary for both your health and the health of your scalp. Just make sure to use a moisturizing shampoo, like the best tea tree oil shampoo.

When Your Scalp Has Been Exposed to Chemicals

If swimming is part of your regular exercise regimen, make a point of washing your hair after getting out of the pool. The chlorine and various chemicals found in most swimming pools can cause hair to become brittle and discolored if they’re not washed out in a timely manner. If you’re not keen on the idea of shampooing after each trip to the pool, consider wearing a protective swim cap over your scalp.  Even if you prefer swimming in the ocean or a local lake, shampooing is recommended after each dip. These days, many natural bodies of water contain more pollutants and harmful elements than chemical-laden pools.

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When Your Scalp Produces Excess Sebum

For people whose scalps produce excessive amounts of sebum, daily washing is generally okay – provided, of course, it’s followed up with a conditioning. Not surprisingly, balance is the key to maintaining a healthy scalp. While a moderate amount of sebum nourishes follicles and keeps your scalp hydrated, too much can clog follicles, inhibit new hair growth and leave hair greasy and unmanageable. If excess sebum production is a problem for you, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist. This person may be able to recommend a prescription shampoo and/or conditioner to keep the problem in check.

From childhood, many of us have been conditioned to shampoo every day. However, contrary to what our parents instilled in us, daily washing can ultimately do more harm than good. Although you should never cut shampoo out of your hair care regimen entirely, it’s best used sparingly. Knowing when to use shampoo is essential to maintaining a healthy head of hair.