I recently had an interesting email discussion with a blog reader Shola. Her original question was about the role of coconut oil in preventing excessive uptake of water into hair (remember hygral fatigue!). She says
'As black women with the driest hair, why should we really even care about hygral fatigue? White women wash their hair every single day, some just shampoo and do not even use a hair conditioner. I am wondering just how damaging would washing your hair every day be? Is hygral fatigue really that bad?'
The first part of her question intrigued me - why is it such a common belief that white women wash their hair every day? Having gone to university and lived in residential halls with many white women (90%+ of the student population was white), I can tell you for a fact that not all white women wash their hair every day.
Being a scientist, I took it a step further and asked the small group of white women that I know some of these questions. These were the responses
Q1: How often do you wash your hair?
Every Day - 3
Between 2 -3 times a week - 4
Once a week - 2
Once every 3 weeks - 1
Q2: Do you use hair conditioner after shampooing?
All answered yes except 1 who uses a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner.
Q3: In between wash days, do you avoid wetting your hair and if so how and why?
Yes - 4
No - 3
The reason in general for avoiding wet hair was to reduce/eliminate drying time. Two ways to avoid wetting hair were given - clipping hair upwards and in the second, only allowing the ends of hair to contact the water, avoiding wetting the scalp.
The reasons for wetting hair were to rinse off styling products or to wet hair to reapply styling products.
Q4: What guides you to wash your hair as often as you do?
The most common answer was how greasy (or oily) hair becomes. The second most common answer was to preserve hair colour (i.e if you have a semi permanent colour, the less you wet it, the longer it stays). The third most common answer was about time - i.e needing time to dry hair before leaving the house for work.
From my tiny survey, there is a spread of routines among white women in the same way there is a spread among black women, so I am officially calling it a myth that white women wash their hair every day.
Coming up next : More of my discussion with Shola and the answer to how damaging is hygral fatigue!