The Trend of Rarely Washing Your Hair on TikTok, is it Harmful or Beneficial?

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It can even be detrimental to hair health

illustration of shampooing ( Biolabs)

Recently on TikTok there has been a trend of “hair training” where influencers advise their followers not to wash their hair for long periods of time, even up to weeks. This method is claimed to improve the condition of the hair and scalp.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support these claims. Experts say the opposite, that the trend can cause hair thinning, hair loss, and scalp problems.

1. What is hair training?

shampoo illustration ( Langevin)

Hair training is meant to train the hair and scalp to get used to minimal washing. Followers believe that chemicals such as sulphates found in many hair care products dry out the strands.
This is believed to reduce the production of natural oils with excess volume. With hair training, this will train the hair and scalp back to its natural and healthy state. The washing period starts from once a week, then graduates to 30 days.
Unfortunately, if the hair is not cleaned regularly, it can instead accumulate oil, dirt, and pollutants, which can trigger flaking, itching, irritation and inflammation that can eventually lead to hair loss (International Journal of Trichology, 2018).
Studies show that low shampooing frequency is associated with an increased risk of hair loss (Skin Appendage Disorders, 2021).

2. Tips for maintaining healthy hair

illustration of healthy hair (

How often to wash your hair may depend on each person as each person’s dirt and oil can be different. The way you wash your hair and the products you use will help keep your hair smooth and shiny.
Follow these simple tips to maintain healthy hair, quoted from the American Academy of Dermatology Association page:
1. How often you wash your hair depends on the oil level on your head.
  • If you have an oily scalp, you may need to wash your hair as often as once a day.
  • For chemically treated hair, it may be drier. It’s best to reduce the frequency of shampooing.
  • As we age, the scalp produces less oil. So you may not need to wash your hair as often. However, if you see flakes in your hair, you may not be shampooing enough. It could signal dandruff or other scalp problems.

2. When washing your hair, focus on cleansing the scalp first rather than washing the entire hair. Washing the hair only makes it frizzy, dull and rough.
3. It’s a good idea to use conditioner, unless using a 2-in-1 shampoo, to cleanse and maintain hair. Using conditioner can significantly improve the look of damaged hair by increasing shine, reducing hair standing, increasing its strength and offering protection from UV rays.
4. Conditioner can make fine hair look floppy. Therefore, conditioner should only be used on the ends of the hair, not on the scalp or the entire hair strand.
5. Choose shampoo and conditioner that are specially formulated for your hair type. For example, if you color your hair, use products designed for color-treated hair. If your hair is damaged or chemically treated, consider a 2-in-1 shampoo. Regardless of price, many shampoo and conditioner brands provide the same benefits.
6. Protect hair from the damaging effects of chlorine by wetting and protecting hair before swimming. Wear a tight-fitting swim cap and use a specially formulated swimmer’s shampoo and conditioner after swimming to replace lost moisture.

3. The impact of stopping shampooing

dandruff illustration (

According to Health Shots, here’s what can happen if you stop washing your hair:
If you’re the type of person who sweats a lot or has a workout routine, folliculitis can happen. Not washing your hair can cause sebaceous gland secretions that can lead to infections in the hair follicles. In people with dandruff, dandruff tends to mix with sebaceous secretions, increasing the risk of folliculitis.
When washing your hair, the scalp will also be exfoliated. This removes dead skin from the surface. Not shampooing regularly can leave the scalp unexfoliated and lead to dandruff. This will make you feel itchy and can also cause a rash on the scalp.
Hair loss
Hair that is not washed regularly will cause hair fall, itching and changes in texture. While shampooing, the scalp also gets nourished due to increased oxygen supply.
Excess oil and oily scalp
If you rarely wash your hair, oil will accumulate on the surface of the scalp. Too much oil can cause a greasy feeling, allowing fungi and bacteria to grow, leading to dandruff and other scalp conditions. Regular shampooing can help prevent this problem.
Damaged hair
Dandruff and oily scalp can cause hair damage. Daily routines, pollution, and the use of various products on the scalp can cause buildup, leading to many problems. Hair that is not washed regularly can lead to broken and brittle hair.
A dirty scalp causes oily discharge which leads to acne. The main areas affected are the forehead, hairline, upper arms and back.
Seborrheic dermatitis
Although the exact cause is unknown, seborrheic dermatitis can worsen with a scalp that is rarely cleaned. This condition causes scabs on the scalp, is generally very itchy and makes the scalp red.
Hair training that is trending on TikTok will not have a positive impact on the hair. Apart from damaging its health, the trend can also make hair look dirty and smelly.

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