Are You Washing Your Hair Properly?  

We're washing our hair more than ever, but could you be causing more harm than good?

Audrey Hepburn inspired the creation of Philip Kingsley's bestselling Elasticizer Deep Conditioning Treatment. Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

While it may seem a simple task and one that you might have paid little attention to before today, believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to wash hair.

Hairdresser, Michael Van Clarke, says: "from my professional experience of over 25 years, I can say consumers do not know how to use products properly to get the best results." 

From aggressive washing to picking the wrong ingredients for your hair type, there are a host of things that can contribute to damaging your tresses in the shower. With that said, this is everything you need to know before your next wash day... 

Know your hair type 

Michael notes that most people are unsatisfied with hair care products because they're unaware of their hair type. To avoid disappointment, first get to know your locks. Analyse whether they’re coarse, oily, thick or thin and consider if they’ve been chemically treated.  

"Think about whether your hair is a different type at the roots and at the ends," says Michael. "It is generally best to select a shampoo that will benefit your scalp and root area, and then select a conditioner that will work for the middle and ends of your hair." 

Once you've determined your hair type, picking the right shampoo gets a whole lot easier. For fine to medium hair, opt for a product that offers volume and is free of weighty silicones. If you have dry or coarse hair, look for a moisturising shampoo which will nourish and protect against further damage. And for coloured hair, use a product that offers UV protection as this will help to prevent any loss of hue. 

Wash the right way 

Begin washing by thoroughly wetting your hair first, then apply a small amount (the size of a 10-cent coin) of shampoo to the root area and the underside of your scalp, near the nape of your neck. Apply more product if your hair is longer or thicker. Next, gently (but firmly) massage your scalp for approximately one minute, after which you should begin squishing the suds through the lengths of your strands a few times, which will be enough to cleanse them without the need to apply more shampoo.  

As much as you may feel inclined, "there’s no need to scrub your hair, as this can damage it. Also, don’t pile your hair on top of your head when you shampoo as this can tangle your strands and cause breakage. Instead, let your hair fall behind you and rinse well until the water runs clear," says Anabel Kingsley, Trichologist at Philip Kingsley. 

As for how often you should be washing, this really depends on your hair type, but going more than three days between washes could negatively impact your scalp. Of course, there is the exception of coarse, curly or coily hair which usually benefits from fewer wash days.   

Left to right: KMS AddPower Shampoo, $34; Ouai Thick Hair Shampoo, $55. Photos / Supplied


There are ingredients to look for in a shampoo and ones to avoid. Those which we definitely want to be using hinges on our hair texture; fine hair will need thickening aids like rice protein (try KMS AddPower Shampoo, $34), while coarse, curly hair will benefit from formulas with moisturising agents like shea butter (Ouai Thick Hair Shampoo, $55, is a treat). 


Silicones and some sulphates are the ingredients we want to steer clear of. Michael says, "silicone is not good for your hair and scalp, but unfortunately it’s in 99 per cent of shampoos and conditioners because it's cheap and instantly cosmetically effective. Silicone will lubricate your hair but it will not nourish, rejuvenate, restore or hydrate it, which is why it is so important that you avoid any hair product that contains it." 

Quite like a cling film sheath, silicones might immediately make your hair seem shiny, silky and smooth, but as a hydrophobic it pushes water away and displaces moisture. The result? Our hair's protein structure becomes more brittle, less flexible and breaks down, you might even see it as premature ageing of the hair.  


Not all sulphates are created equal and Michael points out that there is much misinformation about these cleansers, which can actually do a world of good. "Commonly used in shampoo, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is a very effective surfactant (surface active agent) which helps the shampoo dissolve grease and dirt, but can then be easily rinsed out. This can be good or bad depending on hair type or skin sensitivity." 

There are various sulphates out there, and while SLS might be the harshest or most effective degreaser and foam producer (not ideal for dry hair or sensitive scalps), other sulphates like Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) and Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS) are gentle enough to do their job without irritating sensitive skin or fading hair dye. 

Left to right: Color Wow Color Security Shampoo, $54; Evo Platinum Blonde Toning Shampoo, $43; Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Deep-Conditioning Treatment, $80. Photos / Supplied


If you're washing your tresses frequently, the fading of your hair colour is a given. But you can deter this by using colour-locking shampoos, like Color Wow’s Color Security Shampoo, $54, a sulphate-free shampoo that helps maintain colour freshness and vibrancy.   

If you have blonde hair, consider using a weekly violet hued shampoo and mask, like Evo’s Platinum Blonde Toning Shampoo, $43, and Colour Boosting Treatment, $47, which neutralises unwanted brassiness, boosts brightness and extends the life of colour-treated blonde hair.  

Michael also suggests using a treatment twice a week, like the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Deep-Conditioning Treatment, $80, a pre-shampoo treatment that repairs and reconditions hair (fun fact: it was actually designed for Audrey Hepburn).  

--- The Daily Telegraph 

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