Americans wash their hair on average of just under 5 times a week (which is twice the amount of Italians and Spaniards) and that’s a problem, according to dermatologists. Washing hair too often can rob it of vital nutrients and ultimately damage it. So, the question is what would American’s shampoo habits be like if the New York Times hadn’t run a certain health and beauty article in 1908?
When the New York Times published an article that suggested it was fine for people to wash their hair “once a fortnight”, it created a new hygiene sensation. Until then, people had been typically washing their hair once a month, because they thought they didn’t need to. But, the hard sell of daily shampooing happened in the 1970s, with ads featuring the Breck Girls, models like Christie Brinkley, and pop-culture icon, Farrah Fawcett.
Madison Avenue convinced people that they could shampoo their way to beauty and glamour if they used the right product – and they used it often.
But, because shampooing robs hair of the beneficial oil named sebum, people should really only be washing their hair between twice or three times a week.
This has led to a new environmental and health movement which is called the “no-poo” lifestyle. “No-pooer’s” don’t believe in using the plastic shampoo bottles because it’s bad for the environment. They also see the value of trying a traditional approach to hygiene, by using all-natural ingredients.
The method is simple: hair is washed with baking soda and then given a vinegar rinse. However, “no-pooing” isn’t for everyone. It can be ineffective against dandruff.
When it comes to shampooing, there are differences among people with different hair characteristics. African-American’s and people with naturally curly hair can go even longer without washing than people who have straight hair.
So, who knows what our shower habits would be if the NYT hadn’t suggested that people wash their hair “as often as two weeks.”