Follow Vogue Arabia

What Is Triple Hair Washing, and Should You Be Doing It?

Is triple hair washing something you need to get on board with?


Image for representation. Vogue Arabia, May 2020. Photo: Imaan Hammam

You’ve likely heard of double cleansing, which as the name implies, calls for washing your face two times (usually with a micellar water, oil, or balm) before going in with a foaming or creamy cleanser. The idea is to get you the deepest clean possible. Similarly, there’s something called triple washing, but for the hair. It sounds excessive, but the method actually has some great benefits for hair health depending on your hair type.

“Simply put, triple washing is the process of washing your hair three times in one washing session, versus washing it twice,” explains John Kahen, MD, chief hair surgeon and founder of Beverly Hills Hair Restoration. This all takes place in one session where you lather, rinse, and repeat…then repeat again.

Although some hair experts—especially colorists who want to help maintain your color‚ may discourage frequent washes, many trichologists argue the more cleansing, the better. “For those looking for thicker, fuller hair, I’d recommend cleansing more regularly to ensure the scalp stays cleaned and hydrated, encouraging the optimal environment for healthy hair growth,” says Helen Reavey, a celebrity hairstylist, trichologist, and founder of hair care brand Act + Acre.

For more about triple hair washing and to determine whether it should become part of your wash-day routine, we spoke to top hair experts. Read on for their input.

What are the benefits of triple-washing your hair?

If you’re a product lover who likes to layer on oils, spray, and stylers, etc., triple washing is likely for you. The same goes for dry shampoo users or those who like to push the boundaries of how long they can go between hair washes (dirt, dead skin, and oil build up on the scalp naturally!)

“Similar to a multistep skin care routine, a triple hair wash can be a great technique to effectively cleanse, balance, and target specific areas of the scalp and hair shaft to maximize results,” says Mara Roszak, a celebrity hairstylist and founder of hair care brand Rōz. “Different types of shampoos provide different benefits and can be crucial in tackling common issues such as product buildup, dryness, volume, texture, tone, and much more.”

“Multiple hair washes allow you to fully clear buildup on the hair,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s dermatology department in New York City. This includes “tough-to-remove hairspray, silicone residue, hair dye, or dry shampoo,” Dr. Zeichner says.

“All hair types can benefit from triple washing, but especially thin and fine hair,” says Dr. Kahen. This is because thin hair is often more susceptible to oiliness and buildup, which can be more noticeable on the scalp if you have fine hair. For oil-prone scalps, using the triple-wash technique can actually help you extend the life of your wash, saving you from more frequent washes.

Reasons to triple wash

“If hair health and growth is the goal, the three-step method can be a great way to ensure you have a healthy scalp and baseline for cut, color, and styling,” says Roszak. “The triple wash can be a great way to invigorate the scalp to promote hair growth, and to add shine by removing excess buildup, all while prepping the hair for added moisture, volume, and nourishing benefits to follow.”

How often should you triple wash?

To be clear, triple-washing isn’t really something you should be doing daily or even every other day. “It is ideal for when your hair needs a little extra purification and deep cleansing,” says Dr. Kahen. “This is probably needed after every two to four washes, especially after using a lot of styling products or dry shampoo.”

If you’re wondering how you might know whether it’s time to triple wash, Ricardo Dinis, Aveda global artistic director and trichologist, says, “If you notice that your shampoo isn’t lathering up as much as usual, it could be a sign that your hair needs a thorough cleanse.” He explains that “low lather can indicate buildup or an oily scalp, making triple washing a good option to rejuvenate your hair and scalp.”

How often should you wash your hair in general?

Sorry to break it to you, but the jury’s out on this one. “It really depends on how much oil your scalp naturally makes as well as the texture of your hair itself,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “More fine, oily hair may require more frequent washing, while coarse, dry hair may tolerate washing once per week or even every other week.”

There are other factors to consider too. “Lifestyle can also impact how often someone may need to wash their hair,” says Dr. Kahen. “For example, if someone is very active and exercises daily, they may need to wash their hair every day or every couple of days.”

Which products should I use for triple washing?

Dr. Kahen recommends using two separate shampoos when you triple-wash. One of the shampoos should offer more of a deep clean, and the other should be moisturizing. (You would use the moisturizing shampoo for the second and third washes.) A detox shampoo like Colorproof Clear It Up Shampoo will help to nix dead skin and product buildup from the scalp, while a bond-repair shampoo such as Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Shampoo will hydrate and restore strands so that they don’t feel stripped from overwashing.

Another option for your deepest clean? Incorporate a chemical exfoliant as your first step, perhaps Act+Acre Salicylic Acid Scalp Exfoliator. Reavey explains that this product has salicylic acid, which gently removes product buildup, calms scalp irritation and itch, and addresses conditions like dandruff and psoriasis.

Dr. Kahen says it’s smart to also incorporate a scalp massager during your detox shampoo step, as it will boost effects and “gently and physically stimulate the scalp while cleansing,” which is good for healthy hair growth. We like Pacifica Clarifying Scalp Massage Brush because it feels sturdy, looks cute, and has a string attached so you can easily hang it in your shower without taking up coveted ledge space.

As an alternate take, Dr. Zeichner introduces a sort of spot-treating approach, because different parts of your hair may have different needs, saying, “The hair closer to the scalp is often more oily, while the ends tend to be more dry.” Additionally, some areas of the hair may be bleached or dyed, requiring different attention. “Triple washing allows you to focus a specific shampoo on a different part of the hair,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Clarifying shampoos can be used at the root, while hydrating, color-safe options should be applied to the length of a hair.” For color-treated hair, we love Moroccan Oil Color Care Shampoo.

If you have a condition like dandruff that requires specialized attention, Dr. Zeichner recommends using a dandruff shampoo in lieu of the clarifying or detox shampoo step. A good one: DermaCare Dryness and Itch Relief Dandruff Shampoo, which has zinc pyrithione to “lower the levels of yeast on the skin that drive, inflammation, itching, and flaking.”

Dr. Zeichner tells his patients to “rub the shampoo into the scalp, like a skin treatment, and let it lather while you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself before you rinse it out.” One round with the dandruff shampoo should be enough, and then you can move on to your next shampoo for your second and third washes.

Downsides to triple washing

Dinis explains that there are a few reasons why triple washing may not be a good idea. Among them: your hair is feeling stripped, it’s color-treated, or you have a sensitive scalp.

“Triple washing can be a bit aggressive and strip away the natural oils our hair loves, leaving it dry and prone to breakage. If you’ve got some color in your hair, be careful,” Dinis warns. “Triple washing can make that color fade faster than you’d like. If your scalp is on the sensitive side, triple washing might be a bit too much and could cause irritation, especially if you start doing it every day or you’re using a strong shampoo.”

Dr. Kahen echoes this: “It can be stripping to the hair if the wrong products are used.” In the shower you can use a deep-conditioning mask like Odele Moisturizing Hair Mask, or Roszak recommends a customized approach, a recommends protecting the ends of the hair with a nourishing hair oil treatment like her Willow Glen Treatment Oil beforehand.

Afterward it can help to go in with a leave-in conditioner such as Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Conditioner, which not only hydrates the hair but offers heat protection and detangling benefits.

Originally published in

View All
Vogue Collection