Does Hygiene Affect Hair Growth?

Maintaining healthy hair and scalp is something everyone should strive for, as it can help you prevent and manage a number of different conditions and ailments, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For one, keeping your head clean can reduce the buildup of sebum, a natural oil that moisturizes and protects your skin. However, some people produce an excessive amount of sebum. Too much sebum on your scalp, especially when combined with sweat and dead skin can lead to greasy, smelly hair, and an increased risk of infection. Maintaining good scalp health can also help avoid conditions, such as ringworm and head lice.

In addition, scalp buildup can lead to hair loss, as all of that dead skin, oil, and sweat can obstruct the hair follicles, ultimately resulting in a condition called folliculitis (via Healthline). Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles and, in some cases, can turn into an infection. When that happens sores can form that, left untreated, can lead to scars and hair loss.

Can dirty hair grow faster than clean hair?

Although there has been a myth that dirty hair grows faster than clean hair, it is not true (via Byrdie). What is true is that, depending on your hairstyle and ethnic background, less washing can help to reduce hair loss and breakage (via Healthline). According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, these both can be caused by a condition known as acquired trichorrhexis nodosa. The condition can be caused by excessive use of flat irons and blow dryers, as well as chemical dyes and straightening, all of which can damage the outer layer of the hair shaft and lead to breakage and damage.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, African American hair is particularly susceptible to damage, due to its unique structure. In fact, more than half of African American women have expressed concern over hair loss and thinning. For Black hair, washing it once a week or even every other week is acceptable to help avoid the buildup of hair care products.

Overall, there is no real metric for how long someone should go without washing their hair, as everyone's hair and style preferences are different.

Avoid the buildup on your scalp

If you want to keep your scalp clean and avoid buildup, you want to choose the shampoo that's right for your hair type (via Healthline). But before you apply shampoo, you want to make sure you rinse your hair completely and avoid scrubbing hard to prevent breakage. You might also consider using apple cider vinegar, as, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science, it has the ability to kill bacteria.

Additionally, there are a number of home remedies you can try to prevent buildup and keep your scalp clean. These include using an exfoliator on your scalp, reducing the number of hair products you use, and washing oily or dry hair more frequently (via Medical News Today). In fact, a 2015 study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology showed that shampoos with lauryl sulfates are good for oily hair, while hair products that contain laureth sulfates are best for hair that is dry to normal. If you know what your hair type is, you can figure out how best to treat your scalp and keep your scalp and your hair as healthy as possible.