There are so many different hair care products these days; it can often feel hard to keep up—but there are also some things that will never change. We’re talking about the most essential of all hair care products: shampoo and conditioner. You probably suds up with shampoo before moving onto conditioner, but have you ever considered using conditioner before shampoo? This hair care hack can actually pose many benefits for your strands, if you do it the right way. If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you should use conditioner before shampoo, we’re digging into the answer and sharing why it might be beneficial for those with fine hair. Keep reading for all of the details on this purported hair hack, including how you can put it to the test in your own hair care routine.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU USE CONDITIONER BEFORE SHAMPOO?
It’s safe to guess that we were all taught to wash our hair in a similar fashion: Shampoo, rinse, conditioner, rinse, done! Maybe you were taught to rinse and repeat, but for the most part, there aren’t a ton of variations on the classic cleansing and conditioning routine. However, as we mentioned, switching up the order in which you use shampoo and conditioner does have certain suggested benefits—but are they real? As it turns out, reversing the order of your hair care routine can benefit your strands.
Using conditioner before shampoo actually has a name: reverse hair washing, and to help understand why it can be beneficial, it helps to remember the functions of both shampoo and conditioner. Shampoo is used to cleanse hair—specifically at the scalp and roots—of things like excess oil, product buildup, and dead skin cells. Conditioner, on the other hand, is meant to help condition and smooth strands, plus seal in moisture.
Now, if you have fine hair, it’s possible you’ve experienced a common hair concern: weighed down, even greasy-feeling, strands after conditioning with an ultra-nourishing formula, and that’s where reverse washing can come into play. Reverse washing still gives your strands the hydration and nourishment they need from conditioner, but won’t leave them feeling weighed down and heavy since you’ll be following up with shampooing. Make sense? Although reverse washing is said to be most beneficial for those with oily, fine hair, if your current hair care routine needs a revamp, there’s no reason those with different hair types can’t try it, too.
CAN YOU USE ANY CONDITIONER BEFORE SHAMPOO?
While there are plenty of options for using conditioner before shampoo, we don’t recommend reaching for just any shampoo and conditioner combo to try reverse washing with. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to follow the instructions found on the back of your shampoo and conditioner. If it says to shampoo first, the product was specifically formulated to give the best results that way! Instead of repurposing your current products, you can always seek out formulas that are intended for reverse hair washing.
Editor’s tip: Reverse washing isn’t the only option for giving your strands a little attention pre-shampooing. That’s the whole purpose of pre-shampoo products! Try the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Pre-Shampoo Mask, which absorbs oil and impurities at the scalp, leaving you with fresh, clean hair. Apply it prior to shampooing, leave it on for five minutes, then rinse. Follow with shampoo and conditioner as you normally would.
HOW TO USE CONDITIONER BEFORE SHAMPOO
Since switching the order of your regular hair care routine likely feels a bit unnatural, we’re here to guide you through it every step of the way.
STEP #1: HOP IN THE SHOWER, TURN THE DIAL TO LUKEWARM
No matter what order you wash your hair in, you should always do so with lukewarm water. As lovely as scorching hot water may feel, it can strip your strands (and skin) of essential oils, which can lead to dry hair and eventually even contribute to damage. So, your best bet is turning down the dial to lukewarm temps every time you wash your strands.
STEP #2: SATURATE YOUR STRANDS
Before you apply your conditioner, or deep conditioner, of choice, you’ll want to fully saturate your hair with water—just like you would if you were to shampoo and condition in the order you’re used to. Once your hair is fully wet, it’s time to apply your conditioner.
STEP #3: APPLY CONDITIONER
Now you’re ready to apply conditioner onto your lengths and ends. Leave it on for the directed amount of time. Feel free to move onto other things, like washing your face or shaving, while the conditioner sits on your strands, then rinse out completely.
STEP #4: SHAMPOO
After you’ve rinsed out the conditioner, it’s time to reach for your shampoo. Simply suds up as usual, focusing on your roots, then rinse out completely.
Next up: As long as we’re talking about the order of your hair care routine, let’s discuss How to Use a Heat Protectant Before Styling Your Hair.