How to Wash Your Hair: The 6 Rules of Shampoo

Something like how to wash your hair can seem so simple—and yet, so many people get it wrong. From the type of shampoo they use, to the amount, to the frequency… It’s much more involved than “wash, rinse, repeat.” Read on to learn how to wash your hair the GQ way.1. Match your shampoo with your hair type and goalsOne of the best ways to shop for shampoo is to only buy products that match your hair type or your hair goals. If you have curly hair, then you absolutely need a hydrating cleanser. If you have coarse or straight hair, then something that smooths your strands will be important. Guys with thinning or fine hair will appreciate a volumizing shampoo. Maybe you keep your hair real short and just want a simple rinse—totally fine—but if you have any length whatsoever, or are trying to achieve more volume, prevent frizzing, pronounce texture, or anything in between, then pick a shampoo to go along with that aim.The Best Shampoo for Men (For Every Type of Hair)We’ve got picks for thick and thin, straight and curly, dyed and grey—even one for bald guys. 2. Always follow shampoo with a conditionerJust as you should follow a facial cleanser with a moisturizer, so too should you chase shampoo with conditioner. A shampoo strips moisture from your hair, and a conditioner adds nourishment back to your hair (be it proteins, keratin, or any other good stuff), and reinforces the hair structure. Let the conditioner set for a minute or two before rinsing. We like to tell people to shampoo first thing in the shower, and then let the conditioner set while you wash your body. Then, rinse it all, and end with a facial cleanser, since sometimes conditioner ingredients can clog the pores on your face.Oh, and make sure your conditioner, like your shampoo, matches your hair type and goals.10 Rules for Better Showers Besides always washing your legs. 3. Never combine shampoo with conditionerQuit using 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioners. Please. Would you ever use a 2-in-1 cleanser-moisturizer? No. Let both products do their designated job: The shampoo cleans, the conditioner repairs. You nullify the conditioner if you combine it into one step. So, always shampoo first, condition after (letting it set for 1-2 minutes), and you’ll have soft, strong hair every day.4. Don’t wash your hair every daySpeaking of every day… that’s not the frequency with which you should be shampooing. Instead, you should be going for every second or third day. Daily washing is a recipe for dry hair and scalp, and it’s unlikely that you actually need more than a rinse most of the time.Now, you have to be the judge on a daily basis; just because you shampooed yesterday doesn’t mean you are forbidden to shampoo today. If you have gnarly hair product or had an insanely sweaty workout, then maybe you do need a wash today. Our message is more about best practices and hair health. Just make sure to follow each wash with a conditioner.On the topic of conditioner, though, you might want to consider co-washing on the non-shampoo days. That’s where you use a conditioner like a shampoo, enjoying the nourishing benefits while also letting the product flush away excess grime and oil. That, or you could invest in a good second-day dry shampoo, which will absorb excess grease at the scalp and give hair a little lift.Once and For All: This Is How Often You Should Shampoo Your HairNot every day—but also not never.5. Avoid these ingredientsIt takes a watchful eye to find a shampoo without any “bad” ingredients, since many will have one of the following: sulfates (ALS, SLES, SLS), parabens, polyethylene glycols (PEG), diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), formaldehyde, alcohol, sodium chloride, synthetic dyes and synthetic fragrances.Those last two, the dyes and fragrances, might be especially hard to avoid. But note that these are the more or less harmful ingredients for your hair and scalp, in terms of damage or irritation. Primarily, try to avoid sulfates, which can severely dry out your hair, despite the miraculous lather they build. Try to shop brands that promise not to carry any of these ingredients, or the minimum amount of them.Note that price doesn’t always dictate a clean roster of ingredients, either. Some synthetic options achieve their abilities without any of these ingredients, while some top-dollar picks cut corners on quality.6. Use a conservative amount at firstHow much shampoo should you use? That depends a lot on the lather it builds naturally. It’s best to start with a dime-sized amount, and add more from there. It will come down to how much water you have in your hair, the lather it builds, the amount of hair you have, and even the water temperature. (Unfortunately, the cooler your water, the better it is for your hair’s cuticles.) Longer styles might require more. You’ll get the hang of it quickly enough—just start conservatively and add from there.