Is Double Shampooing the Key to Your Healthiest Hair (and Scalp) Ever?

Woman shampooing her hair with bar soap

Asya Molochkova / Stocksy

Lather, rinse, repeat. If you’ve read the back of a shampoo bottle, you’ve probably seen these instructions pop up from time to time. But few of us actually listen, because well… why? We have busy lives; who has the time to do anything twice?

As it turns out, those shampoo bottles might have been onto something. The double shampoo method—or simply just shampooing twice—is kind of like double-cleansing your face: If the first wash removes product, the second wash penetrates deeper to actually clean.

We talked to trichologist Anabel Kingsley and hairstylist Devin Toth to find out exactly how double shampooing can benefit your hair—because one extra step in your routine really can make a difference.

Meet the Expert

What Is the Double Shampoo Method?

Simply put, the double shampoo method is shampooing twice in the same shower session. Lather once, rinse it out, and then repeat the process. 

It’s not needed every time you wash your hair, but shampooing twice gives you a deeper cleanse that could be beneficial if you have a build-up of hairspray, you’ve been swimming in the ocean, or if you have dandruff and need the extra wash to lift away flakes. The idea is to give adequate attention to both your hair and your scalp: The first wash should break down any product or mineral build-up on your strands, paving the way for the second wash to really scrub your scalp clean and fully clear out the build-up, excess oil, or flakes that the first wash rustled up. 

The process is pretty straightforward, but proper washing technique is helpful here. “Wet your hair thoroughly, pour a small amount of shampoo into the palms of your hands, and smooth [the shampoo] over your hair, focusing on your roots,” says Kingsley. “Using the tips of your fingers, gently but firmly massage your scalp for approximately 60 seconds and squeeze any suds through the lengths of your hair, but do not rub or pull at your strands—wet hair is weaker and easily damaged.” Then, rinse well and repeat.

The right products also play an important role in a good double cleanse. You can use the same shampoo twice, but if you’re double shampooing in the first place, chances are your hair is in need of a little extra TLC and could use multiple products to get it back into tip-top shape. Here are a few pairings we like: 

  • If you have hard water damage, start with a clarifying or chelating shampoo, like Ouai's Detox Shampoo ($30), and then follow with something super hydrating and nourishing, such as Maui Moisture's Heal and Hydrate Shea Butter Shampoo ($10).
  • “Anyone with a flaky, itchy, or irritated scalp should use a soothing anti-fungal product for their first shampoo,” says Kingsley; we like Briogeo's Scalp Revival MegaStrength+ Shampoo ($42). Then, follow with a shampoo that suits your hair type. 
  • If you’re set on keeping it down to one product, or aren’t targeting anything in particular, Toth recommends something super gentle or oil-based. Try Shu Uemura's Gentle Radiance Cleansing Oil Shampoo ($41).

Benefits of Double Shampooing

  • Removes excess product: A double shampoo will feel especially good if your hair is coated in excess hairspray or other styling products from a fussy updo. The first shampoo will loosen the film of the product, and the second will lift it away and clean your scalp.  
  • Lifts and rinses flakes away: “If you have a scaly scalp condition, like dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis, and are unable to shampoo daily, double cleansing on the days you do wash your hair with a targeted shampoo will help to lift and rinse flakes away most effectively,” says Kingsley. 
  • Thoroughly cleans hair after exposure to chlorine, ocean water, or hard water mineral deposits: Kingsley recommends the double shampoo method after swimming in salt or chlorinated water because it's filled with minerals that tend to cling to your strands, making them feel brittle, tangled, and dry. A double shampoo should thoroughly clear away any build-up. 
  • Preps the hair for scalp masks or other treatments: Along with giving your scalp a deep clean, the double shampoo method also "helps to create a good canvas for the penetration of active ingredients,” says Kingsley. “If your scalp is very scaly, active ingredients tend to sit on top of [it], rather than penetrate the skin.” Once your scalp and hair are thoroughly cleansed, they will absorb all of those good, nutritious ingredients that follow in a mask or conditioning treatment. 

Risks of Double Shampooing

  • Could cause damage: “If you choose a strong shampoo that’s overly cleansing and you use it twice in one wash, it could end up stripping your scalp of its natural oils, which may, in turn, cause your scalp to overcompensate and produce more oil,” says Toth. “It’s not a great cycle to start.”  
  • Waste of product and time: If you’re double cleansing when you don’t need to, you’re wasting product and spending more time in the shower than necessary—which means a few extra minutes of running water and energy consumption. 

Who Should Double Shampoo?

While all hair types can benefit from a double shampoo every once and a while (or as needed), Kingsley and Toth agree that the double shampoo method is best for those who do not wash their hair every day. “Anyone who washes their hair once every week or so would benefit from the double shampoo method,” says Toth. “Anyone who washes their hair on a daily basis, or even every other day, does not need to use this method. It really comes down to how often you wash your hair and not what type of hair you have.”

The Final Takeaway

Like double cleansing your face, the double shampoo method is a great way to make sure your hair is extra clean and clear of any product, build-up, or flaky skin. Not only will your hair and scalp feel better, but you'll also be prepping your hair to receive the benefits of any masks or conditioning treatments that follow.

But unlike double cleansing your skin, you really shouldn’t do it every day. Over-cleansing your hair will eventually strip it of its natural oils and could lead to damage over time, or cause your scalp to over-produce sebum (which then leads to dandruff and oily hair). But if you’re gentle and only adopt the double shampoo method when needed, it’s a great and easy way to get a clean slate for your hair.

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