**While what I am going to share here with you works for me, it wont necessarily be best for you or your hair. It is best to know your hair and find what works best for your type, length and personal preferences.
I am a firm believer in washing hair only every other day. This way hair has time to produce and benefit from its natural oils, as well as avoiding the stress that can be caused from over blow drying hair and stretching it by pulling brushes through wet locks. Many people find the natural oils that the scalp produces to be disgusting and strip these from the hair daily. Now if you have really oily skin/hair I do see the benefit in this, but as a general rule, this oil is nourishing and protective to your hair.
Let me be very clear, I do NOT run around with gross, dirty, greasy hair! Once your hair gets used to not having to re-nourish itself daily, the oil production no longer goes into over drive, it only produces a small, often unnoticeable amount. So when you first reduce your number of weekly washes, you hair might seem really gross for a while, but I bet if you give it two weeks it will start working for you (in the mean time might I suggest a thick headband and messy bun to disguise the shine??) Of course, if you are very active, abuse hair products or are spending a long dirty day in the garden, its a good idea to wash your locks daily.
Ok, now a little about the actually act of washing and conditioning hair! Shampoo is intended to wash away all the dirt, oil and products from hair (how handy is that?!) so its a good idea to use it, and often! When you are shampooing your hair (however often that may be)make sure you scrub your scalp thoroughly, this loosens any dead skins cells and dirt so they can be easily rinsed away. When shampooing focus on the scalp, the shaft of your hair only needs a little attention here to remove the hair spray and gel you have used. DO NOT pile your hair on top of you hair and smash it all together with shampoo! Keep the hair long and work the product through the length, this will not only allow the hair to get cleaner, but it will make combing through it SO much easier after your shower. If you notice your shampoo is not foaming up very much, it means your hair is dirtier than usual. No big deal, this is just one of those times when lather, rinse and repeat is a good call. Rinse out very well. Your hair should literally squeak its so clean after shampooing.
Conditioner is a must! But if you have fine or thin hair, a very light moisturizer will suffice, you can even dilute your conditioner with distilled water so it thinner (this will keep it from weighing down your hair). Curly hair loves a thick, rich conditioner. Many people use too much conditioner, this too will weigh down hair and make it harder to rinse out, as a rule of thumb don't use any more conditioner than you do shampoo (honestly, it will still work!) Unlike shampoo, when you condition its okay to avoid your roots (especially if you are washing infrequently), focus this product on the ends and shaft of your hair, these are the places that need to most moisture. I like to finger comb through my hair while the conditioner is in, just to work any tangles out and make sure the product is well distributed. Make sure you rinse out the conditioner VERY well, not only does it weigh down hair and make it appear greasy, it can really clogs pores causing breakouts on your face and back, and NO ONE wants to increase the chances of that!
When towel drying, be gentle on your hair (this is something I struggle with!!). Try just lightly pressing hair between a towel and wrapping the towel loosely around the hair to absorb excess moisture. Follow with a thorough combing (use a wide tooth comb or pick, NEVER brush wet hair!), add any detangler, leave-in conditioner or product you want/need (I like Infusium 23 (moistur)ologie and Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Scrunching Gel). Dry and style as normal.
I am a big time sale shopper/coupon cutter, so my hair products are pretty basic. I think that's great, just as long as they are working for you. But do I have two, personal, rules about washing. First is that I switch brands after each bottle of shampoo & conditioner because my hair gets used to the product and it stops working as effectively. I usually alternate between Garnier Fructis Long &Strong and Herbal Essences Tousle me Softly (both are cheap and work well, in my opinion anyway). And secondly, I always use both products (shampoo and conditioner) from the same line (example: both Herbal or both Fructis) because shampoo and conditioner are designed to compliment each other and different brands will alternate ingredients making a mismatched pair less effective than a matched one.
Right now I am using Aussie Shampoo and Conditioner, cuz nothing was on sale and it was CHEAP. I'm not totally loving it, but its getting the job done...
So whats your hair washing routine? What products do you like? And do you have any brilliant advice to share with the rest of us? Leave a comment. :)