Does Dirty Hair Grow Faster Than Clean Hair?

Does dirty hair really grow faster?
Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

Does Dirty Hair Grow Faster Than Clean Hair?

This is one of those myths that won't go away. While the idea of never again putting water on your hair is outrageous, there is actually some merit to this myth. What's the truth about dirty hair and growth?

Fact: Hair needs to be cleansed, preferably on a regular basis. Never putting water on your hair is unsanitary and can lead to:

  • Odor
  • Dryness
  • Breakage
  • Buildup
  • And all sorts of other problems you don't want to deal with

With that out of the way, let's address why the idea of dirty hair promoting hair growth is still so prevalent. As you probably already know, black hair doesn't require the same frequent cleansing that naturally straight hair needs. You can shampoo once a week and have healthy locks. The days of believing that once-monthly washes are fine, however, are over.

Disclaimer: This "never washing" idea does not include co-washing. The co-wash process includes plenty of water, and even women who steer completely clear of traditional shampoos can have clean, healthy locks.

History and Hair Care

Part of the reason yesteryear's black women didn't shampoo as often (or go swimming) is because, prior to relaxers and even after they hit the mainstream hair care market, the main method for hair straightening was by using a hot comb. After spending several hours shampooing, drying and the hot task of straightening the hair, it's no wonder they wanted their hairstyles to last as long as possible.

Then you have women who just aren't as adept at caring for their mane. They wait for their stylist to cleanse and condition their hair, and if their beautician is booked solid for the next four weeks, they wait until she's available.

How to avoid this: Hair Care Than Anyone Can Do at Home

Getting on a Cleansing Schedule Is Important

One of the reasons some people believe dirty hair promotes growth is because too-frequent washing encourages dryness, brittleness and breakage, some of the same issues you may face by not washing enough!

If you shampoo too often (for black hair, this could be daily with a harsh, sulfate-laden cleanser), yes, your hair will dry out and break. The alternative -- never washing -- isn't suitable, either. Natural oils, hair products, scalp sebum and air pollution all build up on your hair. Think about never washing it out, or only washing once a month or so. This isn't helping where growth is concerned.

8 Great Shampoos to Try

A clean scalp is a healthy scalp, so shampoo with a gentle product on a regular schedule. All hair grows, and it grows an average of 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month, dirty or clean. That said, some women notice more growth when they cleanse their tresses and scalps more often than they did in the past. The more you moisturize your hair and scalp with water, the healthier they are. Hair growth flourishes from a clean, healthy scalp.

Bottom line: Dirty hair doesn't grow any faster than clean hair, so you may as well have a sweet-smelling scalp and fresh tresses. They'll look better, feel better and be healthier, too.

More on Hair Growth

  • The Inversion Method
  • Biotin for Hair Growth: The Pros & Cons
  • The Hype on Jamaican Black Castor Oil
  • Why Isn't My Hair Growing?
  • 4 Ways to Get Through a Growth Plateau