How Long Should I Leave Shampoo in Before Rinsing?

While conditioners and intensive treatments require time to soak into the hair, timing your shampoo is tricky. You want to get your hair thoroughly clean, but exposure to detergents can be a slippery slope. The answer to this question rests on the type of detergent used in your shampoo.

How Long Should I Leave Shampoo in Before Rinsing?How Long Should I Leave Shampoo in Before Rinsing?

The 1-to-3-Minute Massage Rule

Overall, most shampoos don’t need to be left on for a long period. Shampoos work on the surface of the hair and scalp, without soaking in. A shampoo contains both hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules. This formulation allows the product to bind to grime and oil so they can be rinsed away.

However, that doesn’t mean you just slap shampoo on and then rinse it off. You need to rub the shampoo into the scalp to enable those molecules to do their job. Ideally, you want to massage your shampoo in for anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your hair's thickness, before rinsing.


Sulphates: The Exception to the Rule

However, specific detergents call for a shorter massage. If your shampoo contains sulphates, you want to get that bad boy in and out of your hair as quickly as possible. Sulphates can be very harsh, and you don’t want to dry out your hair and scalp.

Shampoos with sulphates are perfectly fine for more stubborn oil or people who don’t wash their hair more than twice a week. Regardless, you still don’t want to leave these chemicals in your hair for longer than a minute, especially if your hair is colour-treated.

The 1-to-3-minute massage rule applies primarily to non-sulphate surfactants such as:

  • Sodium cocoamphoacetate

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine

  • Lauryl glucoside

  • Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate

  • Disodium lauroamphodiacetate


How Long Should I Leave Shampoo in Before Rinsing?How Long Should I Leave Shampoo in Before Rinsing?

If you’re looking for deep cleansing and feel the urge to leave your shampoo in longer, switch to a clarifying shampoo such as:

These formulas contain special ingredients to detoxify and clear the hair and scalp of excess dirt and oil. Used in moderation, clarifying shampoos shouldn’t cause drying or damage the way leaving shampoo in your hair for a long time could. The 1-to-3-minute massage rule applies with clarifying products too.

PRO TIP: Massage actually boosts blood flow to the scalp, so even a short session can be beneficial to hair growth. Use that shower time wisely and pamper yourself whilst you shampoo. You might just wind up looking like Rapunzel because of it!

If you’re particularly concerned about hair length or density, you can also check out our hair growth products. You’ll be shampooing like a champ AND you’ll have long, luxurious locks!