Washing our hair is something of a confusing subject, with different advice available everywhere. Some say that you should wash your hair every day and some say that you should wash it as little as possible. So what is the actual answer to this question? To find out we reached to dermatologist Dr Martin Wade, hair and scalp specialist at The London Skin and Hair Clinic. Here's what he had to say on how often a man should really wash his hair..
1. Why do we need to wash our hair?
We need to wash our hair due to exposure of our hair to the environment, to cope with natural oils of the scalp and the natural shedding of skin cells, and to remove accumulated styling products.
Hair becomes dirty through being exposed to the environment and dust, dirt and pollutants in the atmosphere. Washing our hair helps remove this dirt from the hair fibres and scalp.
Our hair follicles have a sebaceous gland attached to each follicle which produces oil that helps moisturise the hair fibre but it can also lead to the fibres and scalp becoming oily over time. The skin on our scalp is made up of different layers and the top layer (the epidermis) is made up of cells called keratinocytes which constantly renew themselves. The old cells at the top of the epidermis flake off on a daily basis. This causes flaking and scaling which can cling to the scalp, hair or our clothes which is removed through regular washing.
Finally, using hair styling products over time will lead to accumulation of these products on the scalp and hair fibres.
2. How often should a man wash his hair?
There is no single right answer for how often a man should wash his hair. It depends on your hair type, length of hair, skin type and the health of your scalp.
Some men with an oily scalp may need to wash their hair on a daily basis, whereas other men may have a dry scalp and find they only need to wash their hair once a week. This can be more common with Afro-Caribbean hair.
Men with long hair do need to watch that they don't over-wash their hair, and may need to use gentler or more moisturising products as the tips of the hair can become dry and brittle leading to breakage (split ends).
3. How to identify when you should wash your hair more often?
If you find that your hair is looking limp and greasy and the hair fibres are sticking together or there is flaking on the scalp or through the hair, then you should probably wash your hair more frequently. If you find that your scalp is sensitive or dry, itchy and irritated, then you should probably wash your hair less frequently.
4. Under which circumstances should a man switch from this?
Dandruff is a common scalp condition so if you find you have dandruff then you should probably wash your hair more frequently. We often find a seasonal impact on our hair and scalp with the scalp becoming more oily in summer and drier in winter, although men who wear hats or beanies in winter may find that they need to wash their scalps a little more regularly.
Men should wash their hair after working out or playing sport due to the excess oil and sweat on their scalps.
5. Any other tips?
Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) is a very common condition and found on scalps which are more oily. An oily scalp is a favourable environment for a yeast (malassezia forfour) which flourishes in this environment. Some men's scalps react to this high yeast content by flaking (dandruff) and in more severe cases they may experience redness, scaling and itching. Treatment is with a medicated shampoo containing anti-yeast / fungal properties which can reduce the yeast count. Other common scalp conditions are psoriasis or eczema and these are conditions for which you should seek medical advice on.
Dermatologist Dr Martin Wade is a hair and scalp specialist at The London Skin and Hair Clinic, a medical dermatology clinic in Central London. You can find him at thelondonskinandhairclinic.com
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