Monday, March 30, 2009

Washing Your Hair Too Much?

Do you wash your hair everyday? Most Americans are overly obsessed with cleanliness, showering, and washing their hair - so much so, people generally wash their hair at least once daily. But is that too much?

According to hair stylists and dermatologists - once daily is actually too much. Washing hair that often removes beneficial oil from hair (called sebum) and can damage it. So when did we start washing so often? Well, an article published in the New York Times from 1908 recommended that women who were washing only once a month begin to do so twice monthly instead. In later years, television ads began selling shampoo to consumers, and the trend of washing more often increased. After all, shampoo companies were starting to make big money selling these products. Soon, the hair industry exploded with all types of must-have hair products from hair spray to hair gels, and hair "mousse" to enable you to make your style just so. Hair ads convinced us that if the celebrities featured in them had beautiful hair from using these products, so could we. Guess what? The advertising worked! And now thousands of multi-billion dollar hair product industries exist to make us look better than we would if we didn't use their products.

So what's the solution? The bottom line is that less washing over time allows your oil glands to return to natural levels of oil production. It may take some weeks to regulate this, as after you have spent years and years washing those oils away everyday, the oil production is irregular. But in the end, it is healthier for your hair and the environment. Less product means less manufacturing processes and containers and packaging to dispose of - or to go into a landfill and cause havoc on the soil, water, and ultimately, air.

How often should you wash, then? According to Michelle Hanjani, dermatologist at Columbia University, "If you wash your hair every day, you're removing the sebum. Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil," she says. She recommends that patients wash their hair no more than two or three times a week.

Also, when you do wash, try to avoid caustic, commercial shampoos. There are some good quality organic and natural shampoos on the market. Read labels. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't buy it. Avoid anything with emulsifiers, formaldehyde, and laureth sulfates. Here are a few ideas for good, homemade shampoo.

For more information on ingredients in specific brands of shampoo, hair care, and other personal care products, visit the Cosmetics Database.

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