If we had to ask you what your hair washing routine is, it would most probably be something like this: wet, shampoo, rinse, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse. Right? Of course, why wouldn't it be?
Apparently we've been getting it all 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.”
Sounds crazy? Read on, and trust us when we say that by the end of this, you’ll be eager to try it out for yourself.
Why is reverse washing important?
While this technique is advantageous for most women, it has the greatest effect on those of us with thin or 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). Shampoos that contain oils to "smooth out frizzy hair", usually contain lots of sulphates, which build up over time, and although your hair might be smooth after washing it, it could be as a result of the enormous amount of product still left on your hair shaft.
Alas, why is it imprtant? 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 ourselves, we can personally vouch for her conclusion. When you condition after you shampoo, your hair feels heavier, and seems to lose its vitality and bounciness soon after drying. This could be as a result of the fact that we sometimes struggle to rinse all the conditioner out. When switching the order and conditioning first, our hair feels much lighter and looks styled, healthy, and shiny — even without hair cream 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 for everyone?
No, because not everyone has the same hair type.
If you have thick hair, then 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 best that you only use a tiny amount of conditioner the second time, and only on your ends in order to prevent roots from becoming oily too quickly.
Reverse washing works better with some shampoos and conditioners as opposed to others. Jeanne found that using Ref's Illuminate colour control shampoo and conditioner works for her, because it's sulphate free and doesn't cause any build up after she's rinsed out the conditioner.
L'Oreal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Curl Nourishment Shampoo for Afro hair worked wonderfully to tame Jeanne's thick, frizzy hair, but the build up after about three washes caused the hair to look lifeless and dull. Bottom line: you might need to shop around to see which hair products work best for you and weigh up the pros against the cons to make an informed decision.
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. We at ClipinHair believe that it's best to condition only the ends, as your roots secret a natural oil called sebum, which nourishes your roots and gets spread through the hair while brushing with a fine bristled brush. 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.
Things to bear in mind
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 warm water before applying any conditioner. Warm water opens up the pores in the hair, allowing the neccesary conditioner to enter the pore and feed it from the inside. Also, putting conditioner on damp hair is going to make it incredibly difficult to spread it throughout your follicles.
Secondly, 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, but remember to close the tap while doing so, if you live in Cape Town, because of the current draught situation.
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. Clever, hey?
Is reverse washing the new "washing"?
No, probably not. Washing as we know it still has its purposes in some instances, such as when your hair is especially dirty or oily, making a thorough 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.
Who knows, maybe now we can finally prove that it is in fact possible to finish a bottle of shampoo and conditioner at the same time!
Shop our favourite Sulphate Free Hair Care products here.