There are as many different opinions on grooming and cleanliness as there are thoughts on SA politics at the moment, but is there a definitive consensus on how often men should shampoo their hair?
The answer? Well, never. That’s according to expert barber Van Capizzano, who, after decades as a sought-after men’s hair specialist in Boston, believes that the idea that men need to continually wash their hair is misunderstood.
“Everyone thinks your body makes grease,” explains Capizzano. “Your body doesn’t make grease. Your body has been engineered since the fish crawled out of the water to make everything it needs.”
“The oils you produce on your scalp are the same oils you produce on your forearm, your thigh. But for some reason, we go hard on the head because we’ve been taught to think of it as ‘greasy'”.
“I used to try to reason with guys about this. I used to say, “Think how good your hair looks when you go camping.” When you’re outdoors for a week, it gives your body a chance to start to regulate itself, and you’re not breaking out, and your hair isn’t greasy or matted.”
Capizzano identifies the change in perception of washing frequency was due to the changing of fashion and introduction of shampoo in the 1970s.
“Google ‘1960s men’s hairstyles.’ Now Google ‘1970s men’s hairstyles.’ That change? Shampoo was invented,” he explains.
“In the 1960s you’ve got guys looking like Don Draper from “Mad Men”—slicked back styles, clean parts, dapper, hair under control. In the ’70s it gets bigger, fluffier. Everyone starts looking like the Bee Gees.”
The veteran barber also explains that ammonium laureth sulfate in shampoos is no different to the home cleaning agent you’d purchase at the shop, and it should be avoided at all costs.
“Soap is soap is soap is soap. Your floor cleaner is basically the same as your shampoo. We put ammonia and sulfates on stuff to give it that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling. And those ingredients burn your hair.”
“Sure, this isn’t every shampoo to a T, but most are equivalent. The first three things you see on most bottles are ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and glycerin. The only difference in body wash and so-called ‘conditioner’ is that glycerin is first. And your hair doesn’t recognise glycerin as a moisturiser. It just feels slippery on your fingers.”
“I sell the palm brushes—the cheap ones you saw as a kid, the little plastic oval brushes with short bristles on them. These are my go-to. As long as you’re exfoliating your scalp, your hair is going to be fine.”
“Take a hot shower, exfoliate your scalp with the brush a couple times a week. If you’re coming from the gym, do that to get rid of all the sweat. You’re done.”