Stop shampooing those curls so much!

What I am about to tell you might sound bizarre, weird or damn right disgusting. It goes against what the pretty girl in the ad tells you and it certainly goes against what you read in the bottle of the stuff I am about to discuss. For all I know, I am about to tell you something which goes against what you may have ingrained deep inside your brain. But, and this is a big BUT, Manly Curls is here to rehash the notion of curly hair, so I will break it down to you right here, right now.

You don’t need to shampoo everyday.

There, I have said it. What is more, say NO to her!

 

A lady using shampoo with lather on her hair which is the wrong way to shampoo curly hair

 

Ok, I am being a bit “overly” dramatic. Let’s be realistic here folks, just say no to how she is lathering her hair.

Stop shampooing those curls so much!

Of course, I inserted the above picture to deviate the attention from what I have just said. I am going to take a guess and say that it caused the desired effect of making you forget about the stuff of not shampooing everyday. Instead, you are quite probably thinking how fruitful a conversation with the shampoo girl would be on the topic of applied mathematics in the field of macro-economics. I mean, she certainly looks more Smithsonian than Keynesian, right?

Back on track. If you have curly hair, you don’t have to shampoo everyday and you should not use too much lather. Yes, I am aware the bottle says use everyday and lather till the cows come home but curly hair has enough of an issue retaining moisture to have to fight the anti-moisturizing effect of shampoos. Moisture is what keeps your curls looking good so unless you want to sport curls like those of internet’s classic cutebob33 below (real username on Craiglist and specifically looking for a young female roommate to share his cozy condo with), then you better continue reading.

 

A man with bad hair caused by shampooing his curly hair too much

Sir, no young and nubile female will want to live with you if you shampoo so much!

Source: thedirty.com

 

You see, shampoos work to remove anything that is coating your hair, from dirt and what not down to the much needed sebum which is secreted by the sebaceous glands in your scalp. By default, curly hair is predisposed to being dry because sebum, an oily substance that coats the hair (shaft), has difficulty traveling from the scalp all the way through to the tip of the hair shaft. This same sebum is what helps avoid the hair become dry and fragile, and is imperative for having healthy-looking curls.

 

 

Commercial shampoos contain certain ingredients, most notably sodium lauryl sulfate, which act as detergents, that is, they have cleaning and anti-grease propertie, so, by applying shampoo, you remove all substances coating your curls and, if done with enough frequency (i.e daily), you limit the ability of sebum to coat the whole length of the hair shaft. Moreover, the constant removal of sebum makes the sebaceous glands produce more sebum and the detergent effect of the shampoo on the scalp can produce irritability. Certainly not a win-win situation for those of us wanting good looking curls.

What is more is that shampoo should only be applied to the scalp and not to the entire hair length, as a common occurrence in those with curly hair is an excessive build up of sebum in the proximity of the scalp as opposed to little sebum coverage on the hair shaft towards the tip. This means that you should use as little lather as possible, making sure to massage the scalp and avoiding any spreading of lather into the remaining length of the hair. In other words, the little lather that you produce should only be on your scalp.

Frequency of shampoo can vary substantially. Back in the day before shampoos were all over the place, people used to shampoo a few times per month, which doesn’t say much because back in those days people used to also think that being voluntarily exposed to X-rays was fun and akin to an experience with happy unicorns and smiling rainbows. What is true, though, is that the whole shampoo revolution was started as a lucrative means in the 60’s which had nothing to do with hygiene but, instead, took advantage of the hippie movement and its negative image it had among mainstream society, associating the use of the shampoo with cleanliness and not being a hippie.

Going back to the frequency of use, it generally boils down to the length of your curls:

Short length: you can shampoo every other day (i.e. 1 day on, 1 day off). On the days that you do not shampoo, run your fingers through your hair to spread the secreted sebum evenly along the length of your hair.

Medium length: shampoo once every 2 to 4 days. Again, prior to the shampoo, spread the secreted sebum.

Long length: shampoo once to twice a week. If hair is still dry, reduce to a lower shampooing frequency (e.g. once every 10 days). It is imperative to use a leave-in conditioner or some other form of conditioner after shampooing (as is for the other lengths too). Make sure to have the lather on your scalp and not on the length of the curls.

Again, let me reiterate to use as little lather as possible and leave it on your scalp and not the whole length of the hair.

Running your fingers through the hair on your non-shampooing days is enough most of the time to remove any dirt or foreign substances that you may have accumulated throughout the day. If you are still hesitant to not shampooing everyday, you can squeeze a lemon in a glass of water or use some diluted baking soda and vinegar in water (use baking soda first, then vinegar) to wash your hair on those days that you do not shampoo. The smell of vinegar is easily removed with running water so you don’t have to worry about smelling like a salad after you leave the shower.

That is all gentlemen.

All the best

Rogelio

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Rogelio

Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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8 comments for “Stop shampooing those curls so much!

  1. Ernest
    July 22, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Hi rogelio, thanks for this article but i’m curious about the frequency of the shampoo usage

    Im a blonde guy with kinky hair and i like to go to the gym at least 4 times a week. I shampoo my hair everyday to avoid bad smells that can be caused by sweat, that’s why i’m worrie about the frequency because i don’t want to smell like sweat if i stop doing it everyday

    PD: Sorry for my bad english D:

  2. david
    May 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Rogelio,

    Great article. I’m trying to pay more attention to my hair, especially now that summer is almost here, so I’m going to try shampooing less often.

    Is it ok to get my hair wet during a shower without shampooing or using conditioner? I often play soccer and get sweaty so I wanted to get your thoughts on this. Thanks!

    • Rogelio
      May 26, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      Hi David,

      Totally. you don’t need to shampoo or condition your hair when you wet it. Just wet it and that’s it.

      Best

      • Jomari tan
        February 25, 2017 at 8:46 am

        Hi Rogelio
        My hair is so curly ang dry what can I do with this hair , my hair can’t straight when I using plat iron . amm wat can I do to straight it forever how??? Pls…

  3. Ben Shannon
    March 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Rogelio,

    I am the father of a biracial child and inherited the responsibility of maintaining his combination hair(type111/type1V). I started growing my son hair out from a buzz cut, about 10mths ago and it’s about 6ins now. After doing quite a bit of research, i started co-washing his hair everyday and washing it once a week( saturday’s is hair wash day) with a kids sulfate-free shampoo. What are your thoughts on co-washing as well as sulfate-free shampoos.

    • Rogelio
      March 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Ben,

      First of all, it is great that you are taking the time to research and address your son’s hair optimally!

      My thoughts on co-washing is that it is a good option. Co-washing is especially useful for long length curls. A long length mark in male hair is that which is beyond 6 inches so your son has approached this delicate length. The big issue with long curly hair is that it is very difficult to keep away from becoming dry.

      Having said that, and if you really want to get his hair grooming routine to a T, I recommend you to try and also work his natural sebum with your fingers so that it coats his hair, before doing a co-wash. Many times I read people pushing co-washing alone without realizing that co-washing is great IF you are also getting the natural sebum all the way through the hair shaft.

      About sulfate-free shampoos, I think they have their place. Sulfate free is part of the whole co-washing routine but they are not the only shampoos one can use, especially if you are only using shampoo 1x week. Sulfate-free shampoos tend to be weak for 1x week use and you might fare better with conventional shampoos at this frequency (either applied normal or watered down).

      I hope that helped and feel free to keep me updated!

      All the best.

      • March 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        Thanks Rogelio. You’ve given me some helpful information.

  4. Justin
    November 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for writing an article like this. You have a good eye for writing interesting stuff.

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