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How often do children need to wash their hair?

When children are between the ages of 8 and 12, parents often ask dermatologists this question. If you’re a parent trying to answer this question, you’ve come to the right place. 

In three easy steps, you can figure out how often a child between 8 and 12 years of age needs to shampoo. 

Step 1: Consider your child’s traits

To determine how often your child needs to shampoo, you first need to consider your child’s:

  • Hair type (straight, curly, oily, dry)

  • Age

  • Activity level

Step 2: Find your child’s traits on the following chart

Shampoo guidelines: Children 8 to 12 years old

Shampoo every other day or daily
  • 12 years of age or starting puberty
  • Oily, straight hair
  • Active: Plays outdoors, plays sports, or swims
Exception: Hair is dry, curly, or African American
Shampoo 1 or 2 times per week
  • 8 to 11 years of age
Exception: Hair is dry, curly or African American
Shampoo every 7 to 10 days
  • Dry, curly, or African American hair, even hair with braids or weaves
  • After heavy sweating or swimming, rinse and condition the hair

Step 3: Fine tune to get it just right

Once your child is shampooing as often as shown above, you may need to adjust the frequency a bit. Each child is different. Changes in weather also can affect how often your child needs to shampoo.  

To fine tune, look at your child’s hair and scalp between washings. The following chart shows you what to look for and how to fine tune.

Shampoo guidelines: How To tell if your child is shampooing too often or not enough

Shampoo more often if you notice that your child's:
  • Hair is oily
  • Scalp is oily

Continue to add one shampoo per week until you no longer see oiliness

Shampoo less often if you notice that your child's:
  • Hair is dull and shedding
  • Hair feels dry

Continue to remove one shampoo per week until you no longer see dullness, shedding, or dryness

When to see a dermatologist  For most children, these guidelines work well. If your child’s hair or scalp seems too oily or dry after following these guidelines, you should see a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can explain why this is happening and offer a solution. 

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