Two Common Haircare Habits That May Cause Hair Loss
I know women who are proud of how long they can go between shampoos (four days, ten days, two weeks). They consider this a good thing because they’ve been told by experts that scaling back on sudsing keeps color from fading as quickly, cuts down on daily-blowdrying damage, and helps hair stay better hydrated because scalp oils don't get stripped daily. This is not wrong, BUT there is a big downside to this practice.
To revive hair between shampoos, many women rely on dry shampoo, spraying it in at the roots each morning to absorb excess oil and to coax volume out of slept-on strands. And while I too am in favor of dry shampoo (I use it to extend a salon blowout, to mattify greasy roots, and to give my fine hair enough grip to stay put in an updo), I have limits.
My longtime stylist Nunzio Saviano scared me straight a few years ago when he pointed out that dry shampoo builds up on the scalp. That’s okay for a day or two, he told me. But after four days, all that spray-on powder starts to suffocate your hair follicles—which is not good for future hair growth.
In a similar vein, when women do finally cleanse, they’re increasingly opting to use something called a cleansing conditioner, an all-in-one product that flips the 1980s Pert Plus 2-in-1 premise on its head; rather than a shampoo with a touch of conditioner, these formulas are conditioners laced with cleansing agents. This is a smart concept (especially if your strands are very dry) and totally fine to use in moderation. But if you use a cleansing conditioner exclusively, you may (just like with overuse of dry shampoo) end up with scalp buildup, unhealthy hair follicles and compromised growth.
Gail Federici, founder of ColorWow haircare, explains the cleansing conditioner issue this way, “With the advent of No-Poos, conditioning shampoos [and] cleansing conditioners...formulators began to add ingredients to promote conditioning, smoothing, and shine. These ingredients do not easily rinse off. They adhere to the hair and can stick to the scalp. Adding those ingredients into shampoos is counter-productive, as they not only leave a film on the hair, dulling it and weighing it down but, much worse than that, they can impede new hair growth.” (Federici also suggests that the pending lawsuit against Wen Hair Care’s Cleansing Conditioner may be related to this issue.)
So what is a better strategy—one that protects your hair follicles as well as color and hydration? Saviano says washing every other day (or, at the most every third day) is a good compromise. And if you do choose to use a cleansing conditioner, simply swap it out for a traditional shampoo at least once a week to ensure you're regularly removing any build up.