Long hair gets very dry at the ends, so if time and circumstances permit, you must oil your hair before washing it with shampoo. This creates a protective barrier and your hair does not end up looking like a broomstick after a hair wash. It also helps your hair stay tangle free during shampooing. You do not need to soak it in for days on end. Anything between 30 minutes to 6 hours is great. If you keep your hair oiled up for longer than 6 hours, you are likely to end up with clogged up pores in your scalp and just a greasy mane.
Always begin with ensuring your hair is fully drenched in water. If you attempt to shampoo before a good soak, you hair will not lather too well and you will end up requiring more product, equals more chemicals and wastage of resources.
Washing your tresses with hot water will just leave it dry and more prone to breakage. So if you must, use lukewarm or tepid water instead. However, cold water would be an excellent choice.
Lather with shampoo at the roots and scalp area and use less product and strokes as you go downwards. This is simply because the scalp and roots get a lot more oily and dirty with sweat buildup while the ends are a lot drier and cannot tolerate much lather without drying out completely.
Avoid over rubbing and using all sorts of multi directional motions whilst lathering up your tresses. This will only create tangles that might become difficult to rescue later.
Rinse away. Then condition your hair concentrating more product at the ends. Avoid getting conditioner on your scalp and roots. Excess conditioner at the top will only weigh down your hair and make it look like an oily mess.
Your hair should be nicely enveloped in conditioned goodness for at least 2 minutes. If you can spare some more, 5 minutes would be ideal.
Rinse with cold water to seal in all the benefits from your conditioner. Remember, heat expands and cold contracts.
Once you finish washing your hair, just pat and wrap it gently in an absorbent towel; let it dry naturally. Do not use abrasive motions in an attempt to dry it. Hair becomes very elastic and vulnerable to breakage when it is wet. So treat it gently like fragile crystal. OK, not like fragile crystal; but you get the point!
If you used oil prior to your wash, you will not require any hair serums. If you skipped oiling your tresses, and your hair seems tangled or dry, you can use a hair serum while your hair is still damp. Use a very little quantity and spread evenly.
Do not attempt to comb your hair while it is wet because as I mentioned before, it is more elastic and susceptible to damage. A little patience goes a long way.
There are a lot of factors to consider whilst determining how frequently you should wash your tresses. Conditions like climate, activity levels, hair type, skin type, hair length, treatments, age, lifestyle and personal choice are some of the things you might want to consider before coming up with a number. If you intend to wash it with plain old water, you may go ahead and give yourself a daily rinse. However, if you want to shampoo it, I suggest you stick with once every 3-4 days. Excess shampooing strips hair of oil and moisture making it frizzy, coarse, brittle and even fragile. Too much moisture and natural oils accumulated over a while will just weigh your hair down, making it appear dirty and sticky. Of course if you live in a hot and humid place like I do, every 3-4 days is a must. If you work out regularly, you can just use water daily and use shampoo every 2-3 days. If you have long hair, you must have noticed the ends get a lot drier as compared to the hair near your scalp. Long hair dries out a lot faster, especially at the ends. On previous occasions, I noticed over-zealous washing made my hair look like a broomstick. Chemical treatments, colour, heat styling tend to make hair dry out a lot faster. If your hair is curly or graying it may dry out faster. On the other hand, if your hair is straight or fine, it tends to oil up much faster. So you must consider all this before deciding how often to wash your hair.
I prefer washing my hair in the evening after retiring from the activities of the day. I have a very good reason for this. I have noticed, hair gets a bit frizzy immediately after a wash. It takes a while for the natural oils to coat and seal in moisture post a wash. So when I wake up in the morning my hair is frizz free, tamed, soft, shiny and silky. If you wash it in the morning, you’ll just not give it enough time to settle and you will end up with a bad hair day instead. Of course you can fix this problem by using a hair serum to smoothen your tresses. That’s something I think is completely avoidable if your circumstances permit you to plan ahead.
Most commercial shampoos contain sulphates, mainly SLS. Sulphates help lather up your hair and strips it of oils. They are present in household detergents; so imagine washing your hair with that now. It is a good idea to choose a shampoo that does not contain any sulphates, if you wash your hair often. I prefer using sulphates once a month to thoroughly clean my hair and scalp while I use milder shampoos more often. If you oil your hair prior to washing it, you may need a shampoo that lathers up well or you will end up with greasy hair even post wash. Himalaya has some good SLS-free shampoos that lather up decently and are budget friendly too. Of course, there are a lot of expensive SLS-free shampoos in the market too.
I presently have really long hair that is naturally straight and treatment free. I have not coloured/ treated my hair in almost a decade now. At present, I use regular coconut oil and shuffle between shampoos and conditioners from Garnier Ultra Blends ,St Botanica, Dove and Himalaya.
My mother insisted on washing my hair with actual shikhakai and reetha soaked in hot water to deseed and soften, made into a mushy brown paste. Right up to the age of 16, I used this herbal concoction, until I found the process quite cumbersome. I highly recommend it to those with patience.
If the quality of water in your area is not too good and contains a high amount of TDS (total dissolved salts) and nitrates, consider buying some bottled water or using water that has been RO treated. This will ensure your shampoo lathers well and you will end up using much lesser product. More importantly, there won’t be a buildup of gunk and salts in your hair. You hair will be a lot smoother and silkier, shiny too.
If your hair gets too dry, just use a good moisturizing hair mask instead of conditioner and make sure you leave it on for about 15-20 minutes.
I hope this post helps you achieve a squeaky clean mane with soft, silky, shiny tresses.