Dear Daniela: Is There A 'Proper' Way To Wash Your Hair?

Illustrated by Olivia Santner
Dear Daniela,
What’s the correct way to wash your hair? It’s something I do on autopilot but I’m not sure if I’m really doing it right. My hair often doesn’t feel as clean as I’d like, or it can be quite unmanageable. Please help!
Tana, 29
You know, I spent a lot of time wondering why my hair stays cleaner for longer after a salon wash versus an at-home wash, and I think I’ve finally cracked it: it’s the angle. When you get your hair washed in the salon, you lie with your head back and your hairdresser stands behind you, which allows them to fully get into the roots and leave no spot unchecked. Kind of like how it’s easier for someone else to style your hair because they can reach the back. Basically, when you wash your hair in the shower, you probably focus the most on just the crown, when in fact you need to treat the whole head.
First of all, washing your hair starts before you turn the tap on. At least once a week, you need to practise pre-wash scalp care, and this is especially true if you use a lot of dry shampoo or wash more infrequently for whatever reason. Your scalp is just skin and has its own ecosystem of oils and debris, but like the rest of your skin, your hair provides a physical barrier, trapping it all in place and not letting it shed. A healthy scalp makes for healthy hair, so add in something like a massage with the Aveda Pramāsana Scalp Brush to boost circulation and exfoliate, or Bumble & bumble. Scalp Detox, which uses micellar technology to effortlessly lift dirt and oil away. Seriously, once you start thinking about how gross your scalp is left to its own devices, you’ll want to clean it properly.
Now, the actual washing process. Different hair types have different needs, and while straight and wavy hair types will usually want two shampoos and then conditioner, curly and natural, kinky hair types often prefer to co-wash, which is washing with conditioner. Whichever you choose to use, remember to apply the product in small dollops and work in with your fingertips all over, as opposed to just whacking a load into the palm of your hand and rubbing in the easy-to-reach places. Small amounts of shampoo or co-wash are the best way to get an even, balanced clean all over. Not sure if you need that second shampoo? Think of it as a double cleanse for your hair. The first shampoo removes dirt and pollution or grime build-up, as well as product residue, and the second wash essentially adds shine and gloss.
"When you go in for the second wash, look for a lather or froth as that means the hair is clean," explained Zoë Irwin, ghd UK brand ambassador. I’d go as far as to say that rinsing is just as important as the lathering. If you don’t rinse properly, your hair will be flat and lifeless, and feel somewhat coated, so make sure to really rinse out. If you have a handheld shower attachment as well as overhead, now is the time to use it. Irwin said she would also advocate for the cool shot: "The impact of the cooler water seals and smooths the cuticle which makes hair appear more shiny, so just do one quick rinse with cold water to finish."
Illustrated by Olivia Santner
One last thing? Resist the urge to wrap your head in a towel. The fibres of most household towels will actually rough up your hair cuticle and create frizz, especially in curly hair. Instead, invest in a microfibre towel like Aquis, or even an old cotton T-shirt will work to absorb moisture.
I will say that drying my hair is by far my least favourite beauty chore and I would leap tall buildings and willingly go to the post office at lunchtime instead. So if you figure out a way to make that part easier, email me.
Good luck!
Got a question for our resident beauty columnist Daniela Morosini? No problem, qualm or dilemma is too big, small or niche. Email, including your name and age for a chance to have your question answered. All letters to 'Dear Daniela' become the property of Refinery29 and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

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