Can African-American Hair Be Washed Every Day?

African-American hair does best without a lot of mess ... or shampoo.

Photo: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

A woman of color may want to wash that man right out of her hair, but he's probably going to be waiting around till the once weekly rub-a-dub. While African-American locks can stand a once-daily washing, many leading voices in the beauty biz nix this notion. Each head is different, but the coarse texture of African-American hair can actually suffer from too much cleanliness. For the sake of your hair, it's time to slack off.

When to Wash

"Hair and Skin Care for African-American and Biracial Children," a training workbook for the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program, recommends that African-American hair be washed no more than every seven-to-10 days. "Shampooing more often than that tends to dry it out," advises Nicole M. Hewitt, MSW, one of the authors. However, if you just went to the gym and busted a major sweat in Zumba class, it's OK to rinse things out just to freshen up. More frequent washing also comes in handy in dirty environments (think smoggy places like Los Angeles or New York City), or if you have an oily scalp.

Hair Type

Whether your hair is natural or relaxed, it's fragile and needs a lot of TLC to stay shiny and damage-free. Relaxed ladies need to remember, though, that blow drying follows washing, and this causes a huge amount of damage. Curly chicas aren't much better off, since natural textures also tend to be fragile because of strand structure. In both cases, try to hold off on the washing as long as humanly possible. If your 'do looks a little Crisco-esque, try some alcohol-free dry shampoo to freshen things up temporarily.

Co-Washing

Instead of stripping off moisture, try something different: co-washing. Simply put, co-washing is a wash with just conditioner. Since shampoos can sometimes strip necessary oils from hair, co-washing offers a quick and easy way to clean things up without causing as much damage. Plus, the conditioner-only treatment adds even more moisture to the hair, while making it soft and sexy. Natural hair especially thrives with co-washing, since curls do best with those extra oils.

Won't People Know?

Relax. No one's going to know about your once-a-week hair washing blitz. Titi Branch of Miss Jessie's salon tells Urja Dave of "Ladies' Home Journal" that "due to the extra curly ... nature of the hair, oil doesn't get a chance to travel the whole way down the hair shaft." This keeps the hair from looking like a grease slick. If the possibility of a weird smell makes you paranoid, simply use a dollop of rich moisturizing cream or a natural hair oil that smells pretty. These scents will blend with your natural aroma, creating a tempting fragrance that can actually attract, not repel. Who knew your lack of daily hair washing could bring the boys to the yard?

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