Apparently we wash our hair entirely too much.

Or so says this interesting NPR news item that covered some folks who are cutting way back on shampooing their hair.

Americans love to shampoo. We lather up an average of 4.59 times a week, twice as much as Italians and Spaniards, according to shampoo-maker Procter & Gamble.

But that’s way too often, say hair stylists and dermatologists. Daily washing, they say, strips the hair of beneficial oil (called sebum) and can damage our locks.

I don’t shampoo anywhere near as much as I used to because I shave my head, but back when I had a full head of hair I shampooed daily. If I didn’t my hair definitely got greasy because I’m cursed with very fine hair that was easily weighed down by the oil and almost impossible to style. In fact I started showering in the morning because if I washed my hair prior to bed it’d be back to greasy-sticky-outy-all-over-the-damn-place by the time morning rolled around. According to the article I should have just lived with the greasy hair:

“If you wash your hair every day, you’re removing the sebum,” explains Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at Columbia University. “Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil,” she says.

She recommends that patients wash their hair no more than two or three times a week.

As I said before these days I tend to shave my head, but I only do that once every couple of weeks or so which allows my hair to grow out an inch or two between shavings. For the week or so I don’t bother using shampoo at all, but once it gets to an inch I start using small amounts every other day. Eventually it gets long enough that I have to go back to daily shampoos unless I shave it off again. All of which I suppose is a good argument to shave my head more often.

Clearly I’ve not had enough practice…

Folks often ask me how much work it is to grow out my beard and I tell them it’s easy as can be. Just don’t shave.

For the most part my beard tends to grow out in a relatively reasonable shape that often looks like I spend time grooming it, but I generally don’t mess with it much. Every now and then I’ll trim it up using the same electric sheers I use to shave my head and I usually just wing it freehand to catch straggly hairs. The last time I had it done professionally I noticed that the stylist seemed to just slap a hair guide onto her sheers and use that to make a nice uniform shape. It looked easy enough and my sheers have hair guides so this past weekend when I shaved my head for Courtney’s commencement I figured I should try out that beard trimming process as I was a bit more shaggy than usual.

You can guess what happened next. My attempt at trimming the way the stylist does it resulted in my taking off a lot more beard than I had planned to. I thought I might lose an inch, but my beard is the shortest it’s been in over 15 years. Here’s the result:


Click to embiggen!

Jinkies! I shouldn’t be too surprised as I’m not a stylist and it’s not like I practice beard trimming that often. I’m told it makes me look younger, it certainly eliminated most of the gray that was showing up in my beard, and at least one of the ladies at work said I “no longer look like a terrorist.” Which could be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. Surprisingly she’s been the only one outside of my family to mention it so far. Everyone else must be too scared to bring it up or something.

In time it’ll grow back out again so I’m not too upset. By winter it’ll be halfway back to its usual length and by next spring I’ll probably have to try trimming it again. I’ll go back to the freehand method as that seems to work best for me.