How to wash your hair properly

Washing your hair: a task we all have to do, but often dread. It might seem simple enough, but most of us are actually washing our hair improperly. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as rushing, or using products incorrectly. Josh Wood Colour Varderer Stylist, Adam Embleton (who has both a great head of hair, and four years of professional hair washing under his belt!) shares his advice below.

His first tip is to not wash your hair too often. Depending on your hair type, the more often you wash it, the more your scalp regenerates the oil you’re washing out, making it greasier than it would have been if you’d left it unwashed. He says you should aim to wash your hair less, as this lets your scalp adjust and only produce the necessary amount of oil. It may take a while to get used to if you’re a serial daily hair washer, so find what works with your hair. For finer hair he recommends washing every two-three days, and people with thicker hair can even go five days without a shampoo.

Adam revealed some interesting information about professional shampoos – most of them are a waste of time if you’re not using them twice. You may have heard the old expression that you should ‘lather, rinse, repeat’, but it’s true. The first rinse simply gets rid of grease and dirt, something any shampoo can do. The secondary wash gives you the results you’ve bought the shampoo for. For example, if you buy a moisturising shampoo, it cleans on the first wash, but only deposits the moisturising properties on the second.

When it comes to shampoo, Adam recommends sticking to sulphate-free and paraben-free formulas (such as the Josh Wood Colour shampoos and conditioners). These ingredients make the shampoo lather, which is satisfying and something we’ve been conditioned to associate with ‘clean hair’, but they also dry out the hair and make the colour fade. The lathering effect caused by shampoos with these ingredients strip the hair more than it needs to be, which can lead to grease due to over-production of oil. We need to get out of the mindset that shampoo must lather to do its job!

As well as taking the ‘less is more’ approach to washing, Adam says you should also adopt the same method when it comes to the amount of product you’re using. He says to use a 50p piece size of shampoo, and to apply it once your hair is soaking wet (to help the dirt lift away easily). Lather the product in your hands rather than on your hair, then apply to the scalp. You should focus the shampoo on your scalp, crown and sides of the head, where it gets dirtiest. The mid-lengths and ends don’t retain oil so don’t need as much targeted cleaning, the residual shampoo that runs down from the scalp is enough to clean them naturally.

Once you’ve lathered up the scalp, lift your hair up to expose the underneath sections, and repeat the same process. This extra step will make all the world of difference to keeping your hair feeling fresher for longer, as we often neglect the under layers, which allows them to build up with product and grease. This can weigh your hair down and make it feel dirty even when freshly washed. By dealing with your hair in two sections, you can really get a deep clean.

You should then repeat the entire process but use slightly less shampoo and lathering. When shampooing, use gentle rotary movements. Adam says, ‘don’t go crazy – it feels more satisfying to really scrub your scalp, but this can create extra damage and knotting to your hair’. Finally, you should apply a conditioner suited to your hair type. Only apply conditioner to the mid-lengths and ends of your hair. When you’ve applied it and left it on for five minutes, brush the conditioner through your ends. Start from the bottom of your hair and build your way up when brushing, as this helps stop snagging and breakage.

If you want to add extra strength and shine, finish off your shower session with a cold rinse (don’t worry, only about ten seconds is necessary!). This closes the hair cuticle and locks in the goodness you’ve just applied to it.

Finally, if your hair is dry or over-coloured (or even if you feel it just needs a little TLC) use a hair mask instead of a conditioner. Towel dry your hair before applying it to avoid it being diluted and leave it on for ten minutes. Get into the habit of using a mask once a week for added shine.