Asian Cultural Beliefs on When to Shampoo

Does the time of day you shampoo your hair affect your well being?

My hair stylist is originally from Hong Kong and I always enjoy our conversations during my haircut.  We often compare notes on Japanese and Chinese traditions and this topic is typical of what we talk about.

Growing up in Hong Kong, her mother told her that she wasn’t allowed to wash her hair at night right before she went to bed because sleeping with wet hair would give her headaches when she was an adult! Her mother really didn’t have to prove anything as it wouldn’t affect her immediately.  I wonder who came up with this thought. Apparently, if she shampooed several hours before she actually went to sleep, it was permissible.  So, till this day, I guess from habit, she washes her hair in the morning.  But, she has no problems with headaches either!

I remember being told that if we slept with wet hair we would catch a cold. If I think about that now, this belief would depend on the local climate.  If it was freezing cold, sleeping with wet hair would not be very pleasant.    However, in really hot climates, it may help you sleep at night.

In Japan, typically they like to bathe after work but before dinner – well, traditionally the men would do this.  If you stay at a Japanese style inn, they lend you a yukata, a cotton kimono pajama, and you would first go down to the public bath, then eat dinner in your room wearing this yukata.  If you think about it, it’s such a good idea to wash all your worries of the day, and feel refreshed to enjoy the evening meal after a hard days work.  So, this means that if you washed your hair, there was time for it to dry before bedtime.  In general, due to the bathing system, everyone bathed at one time because they had to heat up the baths.  There was no such thing as a morning shower.  So, Japanese traditionally washed their hair in the early evenings.

There is another belief that washing your hair at night will open and clean your pores, helping your hair to breathe. Not only does this allows for better hair growth but has an added benefit that you will sleep better.  I wonder if any of the cosmetic companies can prove this.  With so much pollution in the air today, this may have some truth to it.

The younger generation in Japan started to wash their hair in the morning because styling their hair became an obsession.  Due to this, many homes have bathroom sinks that include a shower head.  Instead of bathing again in the morning, they just wash their hair in the sink.  I don’t know how comfortable it is to wash your hair bending over…So many different cultural beliefs to follow but it’s interesting how these beliefs change and develop over time with the influence of new technology and lifestyles.


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