It’s as important for men to groom their hair as it is for women. The other day I had a childhood friend who reads the blog ask me: “How often should black men wash their hair?”
Black hair has a bit different in terms of its uniquely coarse texture and usually tight curl pattern.
Whether you regularly brush your short curls into a 360 wave or wear your hair down in defined waves or braids, there’s always a lot of hard work that has to go into caring for your hair and making sure it looks and feels healthy.
One of the most basic questions when it comes to properly caring for Afro hair is how often it should be washed.
Women usually have their routines down pat, from when their wash day is to how they style their locks every day.
But how should men go about it?
In this post, we’ll look at some of the factors to consider in determining how often black men should wash their hair.
Table of Contents
Men Are Paying Attention To Grooming
With the growing number of black male celebrities who have set high standards for grooming, it’s no longer enough to just get a haircut.
The hair needs of black men are unique due to the type of hair they have.
Many more men are paying attention to grooming and this has seen an increase in black men’s hair care products too.
Men need to look good whether at the office, at home, or out and about.
Their image has taken center stage in their lives.
Black Hair Tends To Be Very Dry
If there were two characteristics heavily associated with black hair, it would be curly and dry.
And this doesn’t have to do with any neglect in your hair care regimen.
It’s a natural occurrence that black men can’t exactly help.
See, the texture and curl pattern of hair all depend on what the follicles on your scalp look like.
After all, it’s the follicle that dictates in which direction your strands grow and bend.
Anyone of African descent will have a curly follicle, which means it’s going to grow out tight, thick, and coarse curls.
Now, not many people know this, but black hair actually produces more natural oil (aka sebum) than Asian and Caucasian hair.
This is theoretically great for keeping your hair moisturized.
However, because of the tight curls and coils in black hair, that sebum doesn’t get to travel down the lengths of your hair as easily as, say, pin-straight hair.
The result? Extremely dry and thirsty hair.
And when the hair is dry, it also becomes fragile, making it prone to breakage.
Related Post: How To Repair Damaged Hair For A Black Male
How Often Should Black Men Wash Their Hair?
Black people’s hair is very different from other types of hair.
It, therefore, needs a different hair care regimen too.
Listen, shampooing is great for hair.
It’s super refreshing at the end of a long day and gets rid of all the gunk from your gels and pomades, pollution from your daily walk to work, and the sweat from the gym from your extra half an hour on the treadmill.
But washing your naturally dry hair too often can cause it to be even more parched.
The more you rub shampoo into your locks, the more sebum and healthy oils it strips, leaving your hair even drier and more brittle.
So, it’s best to limit how often you shampoo.
This is especially the case when you use shampoo with sulfates.
Sulfates are those hardworking cleaning agents that really strip the hair of all the dirt and oil build-up on it.
But because it’s so intense, it can dry your hair out in a snap.
These products tend to have many chemicals in them that when left on hair too long can cause problems such as drying out your scalp.
If you suffer from a dry scalp and you’re always itching, you might want to look for the best men’s shampoo for a dry scalp.
Excessive itching can lead to your scalp getting sore and inflamed.
So how often should you wash your hair?
A good ballpark is once a week, depending on how dirty your hair has become.
If you have a regular office job and aren’t sporty, washing your hair every 7-10 days is ideal.
Hair Length Matters
How often black men wash their hair depends on the length of the hair too.
Many keep their hair neat and cut it short.
They can shampoo their hair every 7-10 days.
Black men who keep long hair need a better regimen and may have to visit their groomer twice a week.
Long hair collects more dirt and there are more products used to maintain it.
Because black hair tends to recoil when in contact with water, home grooming may not be the best answer.
How Active Are You?
How active a man is is a major determining factor in deciding how many times he’ll wash his hair.
Very active men will want to wash their hair often due to all the sweating.
If your locks are extra greasy because you work out every day, you might want to wash your hair every 2-3 days.
The one thing they can do to ensure regular washing doesn’t leave their hair dry and brittle is to moisturize it daily.
You can also try using natural shampoos as another way of countering the drying effect of regular shampoos.
Natural shampoos (and many homemade shampoos) have fewer harmful chemicals in them.
You should generally go for shampoos that are made for natural black hair that doesn’t strip all the oil from your mane.
There is a range of natural shampoos that use natural ingredients and oils.
Finding the one that works best may take some time but it’s worth the hustle.
These shampoos nourish black hair and make it a better natural look.
They are the most ideal to use in case one doesn’t enjoy applying any products to their hair.
If you have your hair up in a protective style, like braids or dreads, you might not have to worry about dirt and debris building up in your hair.
So, you can go even longer without washing.
Once every two or three weeks should be good.
Related Post: How To Keep Dreads Healthy And Growing
Remember, these are all just ballpark suggestions – a baseline to start with, if you will.
Pay attention to how your hair and scalp react when you deprive it of a wash for the recommended number of days/weeks.
If it gets itchy and incredibly greasy before wash day, move it up a day or so.
If it can survive not being shampooed for an extra day or two, prolong that shower.
However, don’t go too long without washing your natural hair.
If you go more than two weeks of no shampoo, you might struggle with product build-up from your styling gels, creams, and waxes.
My brothers were very active in sports when we were growing up and I’d see them washing their afros like every two days.
In fact, it’s one of them who first introduced me to the practice of conditioner washing (popularly referred to as co-washing).
This is when you use a regular conditioner to wash your hair instead of using shampoo.
The idea behind this is to try and avoid the drying-out effect of shampoos, especially if you wash your hair almost daily.
Some people also do co-washing in between shampoo cleansing.
Like they may use shampoo every two weeks, but in between, they’ll use regular conditioner to wash their hair every 2-3 days.
A lot of people who co-wash swear that it leaves their locks smoother, softer, and easy to manage.
What Hair Will Look Like If Washed Too Often
If you continue to shampoo your hair every single day without allotting space between wash days, you risk facing some dire consequences.
The most obvious sign that you’re overwashing your hair is that your hair will continue to be dry and brittle.
It will be more prone to breakage and split ends.
And the weaker and more dehydrated your hair is, the more difficult it will be to style.
Remember, moisturized hair equals lustrous, bouncy hair.
The more you wash your hair, the more you strip it of the moisture it needs to be healthy and shiny.
So, not only do you deprive it of the chance to be properly hydrated, but you also leave your curls looking dull and with zero luster.
You’ll also notice that when you brush your locks, they will have more fairy knots and tangles in them.
Overwashing your hair forces the cuticles to stay open, so they might snag on each other often, creating stubborn knots.
It will also lead to frizzy locks, which will be a problem for long hair.
Washing your hair too frequently can also have a damaging impact on your scalp.
It can dry out your scalp.
When that happens, your follicles will overcompensate by producing more oil than necessary, leaving your hair incredibly greasy, forcing you to wash it again.
It’s a vicious cycle that has no end.
How To Choose The Right Shampoo
As I mentioned earlier, sulfated shampoos are great for getting rid of really stubborn build-up in the hair, like oils and silicones that have dried up in your strands.
But for regular washing on black hair, all they do is wreak havoc and strip the hair of the moisture it needs to be shiny, healthy, and defined.
So, use only sulfate-free shampoo on your wash days.
These contain no harsh soaps that will dehydrate and weaken your strands.
Instead, they’re filled to the brim with natural, nourishing ingredients that will moisturize your locks while still cleaning them thoroughly.
When shopping for sulfate-free shampoos for black hair, look for one with deeply moisturizing ingredients, like shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe vera.
You should also keep an eye out for shampoos infused with protein, which helps smooth down frizz and strengthen weak strands.
One that is awesome for regular use is the Scotch Porter Hydrating Hair Wash.
This gentle, sulfate-free and silicone-free shampoo is infused with kale protein for extra strength and smoothness, as well as horsetail extracts and white willow bark that add even more softness and shine.
The shampoo also leaves your hair with an invigorating and sophisticated aroma, with notes of lavender, amber, and bergamot.
My second recommendation for Afro hair is the SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter & Mafura Oil Moisturizing Shampoo.
This sulfate-free shampoo comes from SheaMoisture’s men’s line, which is designed specifically for male Afro hair.
It’s formulated with all of SheaMoisture’s signature ingredients, like shea butter, mafura oil, and marshmallow root extracts.
These botanicals work together to nourish your hair deeply while cleansing it.
It’s perfect for thick 4C curls that are extremely thirsty.
How Often Should A Black Man Condition His Hair?
Remember, Afro hair is already naturally dry.
Each time you wash it – even if it is with a sulfate-free shampoo – it gets a little more dehydrated.
So, always follow up your wash days with moisturizing conditioners and styling products to replenish the moisture your strands just lost.
Conditioning your hair is essential to having a healthy and well-nourished growth of your mane.
After The Cleansing Process
Hair that is not conditioned tends to appear dull and dry.
It also tends to break easily due to a lack of moisture and healthy oils.
Washing the hair tends to strip away most of the natural oils that make hair strong and less brittle.
Therefore, you should always aim to condition your hair immediately after the cleansing process.
Conditioning the hair also helps when it comes to styling it, especially for black men with longer hair.
It can be hard to style hair that hasn’t been conditioned well.
Daily Leave-In Conditioners
Conditioning black hair can be done daily whether the hair is washed or not.
This is due to the availability of leave-in conditioners that don’t have to be rinsed off immediately as is the case with regular conditioners.
Regular conditioners that need to be washed off are best applied when hair is still wet after shampooing it.
Using a leave-in conditioner daily is important for men because it’s not only washing that dries their hair.
Living in a hot and humid environment can result in your hair drying out.
These dry conditions affect the hair because it’s out in the open mostly and can’t be covered all the time.
A good leave-in conditioner will sufficiently hydrate the hair to reduce dryness and the chances of the hair breaking.
Black men with long hair should take more care when choosing a leave-in conditioner to use daily.
A conditioner with more natural products made for black hair is ideal.
In a previous article, I discussed at length how to choose good leave-in conditioners, which are categorized as either watery or creamy.
Every one or two weeks, you can go for something more intense – a deep conditioning mask.
One that works well for coarse, curly hair is the vegan and cruelty-free Curlsmith Double Cream Deep Quencher.
This thick and buttery hair mask is awesome for detangling and deeply nourishing parched strands, making them bouncy and shiny again.
It’s formulated with shea butter, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, aloe, and the unique andiroba extract – all of which are known to deeply moisturize the hair.
It doesn’t contain any nasty, drying chemicals, like alcohols and sulfates, so it’s perfect for black hair.
Black men need to be aware of what works best for their type of hair.
Their hair is naturally curly and doesn’t require regular washing.
Daily washing can be damaging due to dryness after using shampoo.
Dry hair is more brittle and easily susceptible to breakage. It also appears dull and lifeless.
If you have a regular office job and aren’t sporty, washing your hair every 7-10 days is ideal.
However, if you are sporty or have a physically demanding job, you’ll want to wash your hair more often.
And when shampoo touches your hair, make sure it doesn’t have sulfates, which can dry out your hair even more.
Conditioner washing (co-washing) is a good alternative if you are afraid of shampoos stripping out your hair’s natural moisture.
Black men can, however, condition their hair on a regular, if not on a daily basis.
Always follow up shampooing with a conditioner to replenish your locks of the lost moisture after washing it.
This will ensure that their hair is always moisturized.
Remember that everything I just explained is a mere guideline.
The most pertinent thing is to listen to your hair and how it likes to be pampered and washed.
Adjust as you go, shortening or prolonging the time between your wash days.
Once you nail your wash routine, you won’t have to worry about overly dry hair again.