How to Shampoo Fine Hair Correctly

Updated 04/22/19
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How to properly shampoo fine hair. Digital Vision / Getty Images

The Importance of Choosing the Right Shampoo

Fine hair can often mean oily hair. Because of this, you should avoid creamy shampoos. Gentle shampoos marked for volume and daily or frequent washing are good bets. The product should be clear, not thick and creamy. A favorite is Kérastase's Resistance Bain Volumifique Thickening Effect Shampoo ($28). For frequent use, or if you want to skip the splurge, try Pantene's Pro-V Sheer Volume Shampoo ($5).

To combat product build-up, wash once a week with a clarifying shampoo (like Garnier Fructis' Pure Clean Shampoo, $4) or rinse your hair with a mixture of one-third apple cider vinegar and two-thirds water.

Can You Shampoo Fine Hair Daily?

You've likely heard it's bad to cleanse hair daily, however, most experts agree that it's safe to wash hair daily with a mild shampoo (if you have dry hair, you can go as long as a week without washing). If you can wait a day between shampoos, do it. Dry shampoo sprayed at the crown and roots and brushed through, should buy you a day. We love Klorane's Dry Shampoo with Nettle ($20).

Yes, You Need Conditioner

Fine hair is susceptible to knots and tangles, which is why it's important to use conditioner. The trick is to use conditioner only on the bottom half of hair, from mid-lengths to ends, and skip the roots. Conditioner near your scalp can get dicey if your hair is susceptible to oiliness.

Make Sure Hair is Completely Wet

It's easy to forget to thoroughly wet your hair before applying shampoo. But, every strand needs to be soaking wet in order to cleanse thoroughly.

The Right Way to Shampoo Your Hair

We all don't spend don't spend enough time scrubbing our scalps. Give yourself a little head massage each time you shampoo—it'll help clean your hair and stimulate blood flow in your scalp (which leads to faster hair growth).

Here's the proper way to shampoo your hair:

  • Wet hair thoroughly.
  • Apply a quarter-size dollop of shampoo. It's actually shampoo that causes build-up on hair, not conditioners, so a quarter-size will do you. Less if you have short hair, more if you have very long or coarse hair.
  • Scrub your scalp for three minutes. It's important to spend time on the scalp, where most oils accumulate. And if you spend those three minutes now, you can skip the "repeat" part of your shampoo.
  • Move your hands down to your actual strands and massage the shampoo into your hair.
  • Rinse hair thoroughly. Make sure the scalp and the strands are shampoo-free.
  • Apply a dime-size amount of conditioner to the bottom 2/3rds of hair only. Avoid letting the conditioner touch your scalp.
  • If you want to avoid tangles and hair breakage, brush through hair with a wide-toothed comb or a boar's bristle brush (the best is from Mason Pearson). It's a myth that you must use a wide-toothed comb, a brush will work as long as you use it on hair before the conditioner is rinsed out.
  • Rinse out the conditioner.

    For Oily Hair, You Can "Rinse and Repeat"

    While people often skip this step in an effort to save time and shampoo, it turns out you should rinse and repeat, especially if you have fine hair. The first shampoo is meant to remove dirt, sebum and build-up on the scalp. After you rinse, you should apply more shampoo and focus on the rest of your hair. If you prefer skipping the rinse and repeat step, make sure you spend those three minutes scrubbing your scalp, making sure to move down to the strands.

    Fun Hair Tip That Combines the Shampoo & Conditioning

    Here's a trick that allows you to shampoo your hair and apply conditioner in one step.

    1. First, apply shampoo to your roots. Really massage it into your scalp using circular motions. Remember, you need to focus on scrubbing your scalp because it's your scalp that's oily, not your hair.
    2. Once you've shampooed and before you rinse, slather conditioner on the bottom two-thirds of hair, staying away from the scalp.
    3. Rinse hair of the shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo will work its way down the hair, rinsing out the conditioner. You'll be left with more volume and body at the roots and crown of your hair, while the rest of your hair will be silky and shiny and easy to comb through.

      If you're concerned that the conditioner isn't on the hair long enough, you can wash your body or shave your legs before rinsing hair.

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