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Caregiving: Washing and Styling Hair

Table of Contents


Having clean hair that is styled in a way that your loved one likes can help them feel fresh and well-groomed. It may help them feel good about how they look and feel ready to see visitors.

If the person you care for is able to leave home, ask if he or she would like to go to the salon or barber shop. It's part of many people's routine, and it can be a chance to see and meet other people. If the person can't go out but can pay for a stylist, think about asking if the stylist will come to the home.

You might want to ask the stylist or barber to show you some basic skills for cutting and styling hair. Then you can do the styling yourself if you want to.

If you can't get professional help, try to find a simple style that pleases your loved one and is easy for you to maintain. In some cases, a short hair style may look best and be easier to care for.

Getting ready

Try to wash the person's hair as often as he or she wants, or at least twice a week. You can use a no-rinse shampoo or a dry shampoo when you can't use water.

When washing your loved one's hair, let them do as much of the washing and combing as possible. You will need to do these tasks if they can't move well or can't lift their arms.

Start by gathering your supplies. Depending on where you will wash the person's hair, you may need:

Washing someone's hair at home

You may be able to shampoo your loved one's hair when you help them take a shower. If that isn't a good option, you can wash their hair by having them sit in a chair at a sink. It is also possible to wash someone's hair in bed.

If your loved one has dementia, they may not like the feeling of water on their head or face. Try to keep water off of the person's face. And if they don't want their hair washed with water, use a dry shampoo or a no-rinse shampoo.

Washing hair in a chair at a sink

If you are washing someone's hair in a sink, you can buy a hair-washing tray at a medical supply store to help you.

Washing hair in bed

You can wash the person's hair using an inflatable hair-washing basin. The water collects in the basin to keep the bed dry. If you are washing someone's hair in bed, you can place a waterproof sheet on top of the bedding to help keep it dry.

Credits for Caregiving: Washing and Styling Hair

Current as of: June 16, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse

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