How often you wash your hair during a week probably depends on whether it’s thick or thin, the time of year, and the lifestyle you lead. But if you sometimes wonder if you should wash – or simply wear – John DiGioia, key hairstylist on “Late Show with David Letterman,” has some expert advice. “If your hair tends to be dry,” he said, “avoid frequent washings and don’t assume instant conditioner (the kind you put on after washing and rinse out) is the answer – that is only useful for detangling.”
To really condition your hair, the best strategy is an overnight (or several hour long) treatment. DiGioia suggests putting freshly washed hair in a ponytail and saturating the hair from mid-shaft to the ends with conditioner. Leave the hair closest to the root free from product to avoid making the hair limp. After applying the conditioner, use a plastic treatment cap, which is a thin version of a shower cap sold at beauty supply stores or specialty shops like Ricky’s. By using the plastic cap, you lock in natural heat from the scalp that helps the product penetrate the hair shaft. If you can’t, or don’t want to sleep with the product on your hair, just leaving it on for even one hour will make a difference.
DiGioia is not partial to any particular conditioner, but rather believes it’s the amount of time the product remains on the hair that produces results. If your hair is very dry or over-processed, he suggests mixing cap of extra virgin olive oil into regular conditioner. You can give your hair a light shampoo to remove any excess when rinsing out this mixture.
If your scalp tends to get oily but the ends of your hair are dry, you can avoid frequent washings by using baby powder or dry shampoo. DiGioia said, “Baby powder works great for absorbing some of the oil from the scalp and will make the hair look clean.” He cautions, however, not to pour the product directly onto the hair, but instead sprinkle the powder on a brush then, concentrating on the roots first, brush through the hair while your head is turned upside down to eliminate any excess powder.
If you prefer not to use loose powder you can buy spray-on dry shampoo, which is basically powder in a can, but can be easier to use. Psssssst is a spray-on dry shampoo that has been around for decades. Psssssst is sold in only one color, and like baby powder, it’s white. SG, which stands for Salon Grafix is a spray-on dry shampoo available in shades for blondes, brunettes, redheads and those with silver and black hair, and is available in most chain drugstores. The advantage to using a spray-on dry shampoo is that there is more control when using the product, it can be sprayed right on the root of the hair close to the scalp much like you would use a root lift or a mousse. Many trendy salons like Bumble and Bumble sell their own version of dry shampoo, which costs almost three times as much as SG, Psssssst, or baby powder.
For those who get sweaty from a daily workout and feel they need to wash each day, DiGioia suggests rinsing your hair without shampoo and using just a bit of instant conditioner, this he says, “will freshen your hair and keep it from getting too dry.”
Whether you choose to wash or wear, DiGioia says “to really keep hair in the best possible condition it needs to be trimmed every six to eight weeks.”
Janet Flora writes lifestyle and beauty features, and is a former contributor to Make-up Artist and Health magazines. A creative writing teacher and fiction writer, she spends her time in New York and Sag Harbor.