Is Using Conditioner BEFORE Shampoo Really Smart? It Might Be But Only If You Want Shiny, Healthy Hair!
Let me guess.
It’s late. Very late.
As your iPad screen glows in the dark you were mesmerized for what seems like hours by the collections of Pinterest pins of oh so cute shoes and yummy cookie recipes.
Then somehow you ended up on hair care tutorial pins.
Now you can’t get the allegedly life changing pin you bookmarked out of your head that suggests a significant overhaul of your shampooing routine is long overdue.
It’s called a reverse hair washing and sounds just crazy enough to work.
Basically all you do is condition first then shampoo.
Sure, it flies in the face of what you’ve always done.
But given your daily battle with your ultra fine strands that need conditioning but not the residue that weighs them down, well, you know. The resulting hot mess often isn’t anywhere near what you’d call full of life pretty.
So what can it hurt to try this?
Besides in theory it’s not necessarily THAT big of change to your long standing shampooing routine. Not really.
Well, that was last night.
In the cold light of day you may naturally have some questions rolling around your sleep deprived brain as you recall your nocturnal hair care “aha moment”.
Let’s see if we can’t help answer some of them.
Q: What is reverse washing exactly?
A: Good place to start, right? At the beginning?
Like it sounds, you reverse the time honored order of shampooing and conditioning by slathering on the conditioner first, giving it three to five minutes to work, then lathering up without bothering to rinse out the conditioner.
And if I can attempt to read your mind, no, it’s not just for fine hair. Anyone who has issues with frizz, dryness, split ends and yes even those with super thick locks can benefit from the bouncier hair this approach can produce.
In other words this could be the shampooing hack your tresses have been waiting for.
Q: Do I just condition like I normally would?
A: No, not quite.
Usually, but not always (see the think-abouts below), you’ll want to focus the conditioner on the lower parts of your strands. Say ear down?
With this approach you’d want to saturate your strands their entire length from the roots to the tips.
This works because the shampoo will wash out the conditioner so there will be less residue to weigh down your mane.
Also you might want to work the conditioner into your tresses like you would shampoo. Sorta like you would if using a cleansing conditioner.
Again you can do this without fear knowing the shampoo follow up is coming to take the conditioner away.
And did you notice? That makes this the ideal way to care for your hair during the summer! What with the sun, chlorine, and whatever all doing a number on it, your mane can surely use the extra hydration to look it’s glossy best.
Q: For best results do I have to do this every time I wash my hair?
A: Honestly it depends.
The biggest consideration is how often you lather up now.
Sure reverse shampooing is gentler on your hair. But that’s not to say it is necessarily going to leave you with the cleanest strands around.
There I said it. But…there’s a reason for that.
The conditioner can affect how deeply the shampoo impacts each strand since it’s going to lock down the cuticles. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since that can produce shinier locks.
So you’ll want to experiment.
For instance you may find that like some who do pre shampoo conditioning – following this routine half the time you reach for the shampoo bottle gives you the best overall outcome.
Or it could be more or it could be less. Just depends.
Q: Does this require a special conditioner to work?
A: Great question.
I wondered that myself – will any old conditioner work?
Seems both of us and Tresemme are on the same page here.
They have a highly rated specialized product the includes the pre wash conditioner and shampoo. Some claim it leaves their otherwise limp, flat strands with plenty of touchable, soft body without any dry frizziness or heaviness.
But that’s not to say this combo is a must buy.
You may find conditioner that goes heavy on the natural ingredients will moisturize and nourish your mane just fine.
Or you may find the conditioner you use now does too.
Or you may find cheaper ones may not work as well on your mane.
To sum it up, you’ll likely need to audition conditioners to see which will work best for you.
Sadly as you know there are no works-every-time-for-everyone hair products. Success involves trying out some “maybes” and “wannabes” combined with a serious dose of trial and error. Kicking to the curb those that don’t produce the results you want.
Q: Any other tricks I need to know to get a terrific outcome here?
I’m taking this to mean you want the process spelled out in more step by step detail.
Okay, let’s call this Reverse Washing 101 summed up in a 5-step nutshell.
Basically the process is about what you’d expect.
First, make sure you hair is more wet than damp to start with. Yeah, just damp won’t cut it. That’s because you won’t get the over-all-the-strands coverage with the conditioner you want.
Second, apply your conditioner scrubbing it in well.
Third, give it a minute. Or two. Or three. We tend to want to rush through conditioning anyway. That’s not the way to get the best out of the product because your strands need time to absorb the moisturizing ingredients. What you want to do instead is this. While giving it time to totally deliver the promised hydration simply tend to your normal shower routine.
Fourth, shampoo focusing on the roots. (Did you notice you don’t rinse the conditioner before shampooing?) You may or may not need less shampoo than you’d normally use. Some do. Some don’t.
Finally, rinse it all down the drain and in the process whisk away any potential conditioner chemical residue too.
Bonus. You should find this doesn’t take any more time than before. All you’re doing is reversing the order of things.
Optional sixth step, stop and admire your shiny, well-nourished tresses in the mirror.
Q: What happens exactly when you condition before you shampoo?
A: Let’s look at few things you might notice going on.
Remember, one reason your hair may not put its best volume forward is because it’s being weighed down by volume-robbing leftover conditioner residue.
Shampooing after conditioning means the shampoo is going to cleanse your hair of much of that unwanted residue but only after your mane has benefited from the conditioning.
BAM! You get the best of both worlds.
That means the ideal result for hair that’s on the finer side would be thicker and fuller looking, right? Shinier would be nice too.
While girls with thicker manes might discover their hair is less frizzy, feels softer and is more full of life. More manageable wouldn’t be expecting too much either.
Another thing that happens? Color should look more vibrant longer because going conditioner first protects your strands from the unintentional color robbing effects of the shampoo.
Then there’s an unexpected benefit. Your hair may look cleaner longer. Yeah, when you’re washing away any residue you may find you can go another day or two between washings because there will be less gunk left behind to attract dirt and such.
Not to mention being easier to style means you won’t have to load your mane up on products either to get it to do what you want it to. Which can also extend how long you can go without sudsing up before things start to look to unacceptably gross.
Finally this technique moisturizes those locks in a healthier way than you are now. That’s because conditioning before shampooing nourishes fine hair without flattening it. It also reins in frizz and flyaways. And given your locks are better moisturized it should cut down on split ends too.
Hopefully this sounds cool and all. So much so you can hardly wait to take this totally cray-cray sounding shampooing technique for a test drive. But…there’s one more question you should ask.
Q: Before I go crazy with this is there anything else I should know?
A: Fair enough.
Let’s take this as our last question and throw out a few other, possibly important, tweaks to keep in mind to insure the best possible results.
Just to Clarify
Before you jump in here you might find a clarifying shampoo is a smart first move to give yourself a clean slate to work with hair-wise.
Thick Hair Rule Breaker
Got thick hair? You might want to try conditioning, shampooing, rinsing, then conditioning only the very ends again with just a bit of product. Then do a final rinse. That’s because with so much luxuriant hair it may not get the moisturizing kick a fuller mane needs.
Roots to Tips or Not?
Here’s another vital point that doesn’t follow any hard and fast rule – how much of your hair to condition. It’s another situation that to find out what’s best for you will take some trial and error. Sorry.
Remember where I said “usually”, but not always, when this question was addressed a few paragraphs ago? I hedged because there are two schools of thought when it come to the conditioning step.
One school of thought advises you condition the entire strand from the root down to the tip as was shared before.
The other cautions you may only want to focus from the ears down leaving the roots as a conditioner free zone.
You’re going to just have to find out which one your hair reacts best to. Got it?
So yeah. There you have it.
By now you should be curious enough to try it out for yourself to see if this admittedly unconventional approach is right for you. Just imagine trying it and saying to yourself “It totally worked?” How excited will you be then?