"I'm in the shower and I'm writing a song,
Stop me if you've heard it.
My skin is soapy and my hair is wet,
And Tegrin spelled backwards is Nirget.
Lather, rinse, repeat,
And lather, rinse, repeat,
And lather, rinse, repeat,
-"Shower Song", Phoebe Buffay (Friends, season 2 episode 6)
We're gonna come right out and say it -- we really hope you're not endlessly lather-rinse-repeating "as needed" a la Phoebe Buffay. Obviously that song is a banger but there's no reason to endlessly add more and more shampoo to your scalp once it's already been cleaned.
But that's the kicker: how do you even tell if your hair has been adequately shampooed? And is there a magical amount of shampoo that's right for you, or does it have to be guesswork every single time you lather up in the shower?
The problem with wet shampoo is that unless you're a time traveling magician, you can't really tell exactly how your hair will look post shower while you're, you know, still in the shower. So it's pretty tricky to tell if you've gotten your hair properly clean or not.
Because of this uncertainty, most people tend to over-shampoo, rather than under-shampoo. This is understandable, when you think about it. Given the choice between using an unnecessary amount of product in the shower but ending with good results, or using a small amount of product and risk getting greasy, unclean hair, you'd skip the risk and choose the good results, right?
Shampoos are also designed to be pleasurable to use, which similarly contributes to over consumption. Bubbles are fun, and fragrances smell nice, so of course people are more likely to add more shampoo rather than less. We love feeling "super clean", and the majority of shampoos today have sensory ingredients that make us feel good even when we use them to excess.
According to expert hairstylist Stephanie Scuoppo from Warren Tricomi Salons, users also tend to overuse shampoo because they apply it in a pretty inefficient manner. "People tend to use two times more than actually needed, mainly because they pour it into the palm of their hand and generally 'dump' it on the top of their head. It doesn't really get to where it's needed so they add more, consequently using too much and over-cleansing the hair."
While there's no way to fix the problem of not knowing how your hair will turn out, Scuoppo has some easy tips for applying shampoo more evenly. "What's really needed is for the shampoo to be worked into the entire hairline, around the face, ears and back of neck (where oil and sweat glands are) after you put into your palm, rather than the top of the head" She suggests adding a little extra water to your hair to more evenly distribute the shampoo, and to focus on scrubbing your scalp, rather than your ends.
If you're using a high quality, gentle shampoo, you're unlikely to damage your hair by pumping out too much shampoo in a single shower. Over shampooing with gentle shampoo only really becomes a problem when you think about how much money you're, quite literally, dumping down the drain.
On the other hand, if you're using a shampoo with an intensive cleaning system, it's possible that using too much shampoo could damage your hair and/or irritate your scalp. Overly powerful cleansers, like sulfates, don't rinse very well because they bind to keratin proteins on the skin. Adding more of a potential irritant can lead to more irritation, so it's best to proceed with caution if your scalp is sensitive.
There's no one-size-fits-all option for shampoo. This is because of a lot of reasons, including:
These are just a few examples, but hopefully you get the picture. People live diverse lifestyles, therefore, they have diverse shampoo needs.
It's actually pretty simple.
Thirsty for more hair knowledge? Here's what to check out next:
How long does it take for hair to grow back after a bad cut?
The answer might be a little more complicated than you thought 👀
Hint: It's not air-drying 😲