If I were to ask you how you wash your hair, it would probably go something like this: rinse, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse (and maybe repeat). Right? Well, allow me to shatter your world with this statement: you’ve been doing it wrong.
The truth of the matter is that to really get your hair to look the best it can be, you need to completely reverse the way in which you think about washing your hair. In other words: conditioning your hair before you shampoo it. This method is otherwise known as “reverse hair washing.”
Sound crazy? Read on, and trust me when I say that by the end of this, you’ll be eager to try it out for yourself.
What’s the point of reverse washing?
While this technique is beneficial for most folks, it has the greatest effect on those of us with thin, oily hair, as well as those who have a lot of product semi-permanently stuck onto their follicles (gel, hair spray, conditioners, and other hair products).
Why is that? Well according to experts like Nina Dimachki, it’s because conditioning before shampooing nourishes fine hair without flattening it.
Having used the reverse washing method myself, I can vouch for her conclusion. When I condition after I shampoo, my hair feels heavier, and seems to lose its vitality and bounciness soon after drying. When switching the order and conditioning first, my hair feels much lighter and looks styled, healthy, and shiny — even without pastes or gels.
To put it simply, reverse washing gives your hair the hydration it needs, without leaving it coated with a heavy conditioner-based chemical residue. You get the best of both worlds.
Is reverse washing one-size-fits-all?
The answer is no, as although reverse washing is simple, there are some things you need to consider before starting your own regimen.
For instance, if you have thick hair, experts suggest conditioning your hair, shampooing it, and then conditioning it again. This is because you have so much hair that the first layer of conditioner isn’t enough to do the trick. Still, it’s suggested that you only use a tiny amount of conditioner the second time, and only on your ends.
Additionally, reverse washing works better with some shampoos and conditioners as opposed to others. One writer found that using TRESemme Healthy Volume 24 HR Body Shampoo and Conditioner worked best for them, though they also say that they noticed benefits using other brands as well. Bottom line: you might need to shop around to see which hair products work best for you — not unlike traditional hair washing really.
There are also a few different ways you can go about reverse washing your hair. Some, like Nina Dimachki, say that you should condition your hair from root-to-tip, lathering it in like you would your shampoo. Others, however, only apply conditioner to their ends, leaving the roots relatively untouched. Both methods call for shampooing your hair after conditioning, so your job will be to find whether or not your hair reacts better to a bit of conditioner or a lot.
Some important reminders before you start
Before you jump in the shower to test out this cool new hair washing technique, there are a few things that you should remember if you want to have the best possible experience.
To start, ensure that you thoroughly soak your hair with water before applying any conditioner. Putting conditioner on damp or mostly dry hair is going to make it incredibly difficult to spread it throughout your follicles.
Second, whatever you do, don’t rinse out your conditioner right after you are done lathering it up. It needs to sit on your hair and scalp for around three to five minutes. In the meantime, you can do everything else that needs to be done in the shower.
Once the conditioner has been in your hair for at least three minutes, you still have one more step: applying your shampoo. It sounds strange, but to do this technique properly your shampoo should be washing the conditioner out of your hair. This gets your hair clean without drying it out.
If you rinse the conditioner out before shampooing, you’ll still benefit from reverse washing, just not as much. This is because the conditioner acts kind of like a shield, creating a barrier between your hair and your shampoo, making it so that your hair gets clean without being stripped of all of its natural oils.
Will reverse washing permanently replace traditional washing?
No, probably not. Traditional washing still has its purposes in some instances, such as when your hair is especially dirty and oily, making a deep clean necessary.
At the very least, what reverse washing does is give you another weapon in your hair-styling arsenal. On those days where your hair is feeling especially thin, limp, and heavy, you can use this method to give it the boost that it needs.
Are you ready to give it a try? Go grab your shampoo and conditioner and get to work! Once you are done, I’d love to hear your results in the comments below.