Everything I Learned From a Week of Reverse Hair Washing

Photo: Armin Rimoldi / Pexels

It’s a hair wash day. You hop in the shower—rinse, shampoo, rinse, (maybe double shampoo), condition, rinse. There’s no second-guessing. We’ve been doing it for decades, and that’s just the way it goes—until now.

Reverse hair washing 101

Reverse hair washing, as you may have guessed, means literally reversing the order in which you use hair products. So, you condition first, then shampoo. While the concept has received rave reviews, I had so many questions—wouldn’t your hair tangle more? Leading to more breakage? Is the conditioner still effective if you shampoo it off right after? I was hesitant to say the least, so I decided to put it to the test myself. I committed to reverse hair washing for a full week to find out for myself—here’s how it went.

A week of reverse hair washing

I won’t lie—reverse hair washing takes some getting used to. I found myself instinctively reaching for the shampoo first without even thinking about it. Getting it right for your hair type also takes a bit of experimentation.

Over the week, I quickly learned the key to reverse washing is to leave behind some conditioner, so the shampoo doesn’t tangle the hair. So, I let the conditioner sit on my ends for about five minutes, lightly rinsed it, then shampooed my hair with some conditioner still in it. This way, the conditioner acts as a protective veil to shield strands while you shampoo for a more gentle cleanse—that’s just as effective.

The result

By leaving some conditioner in my hair while shampooing, my hair didn’t tangle as much as usual, leaving me with much less breakage than usual. Plus, the conditioner didn’t weigh my hair down, because it got washed away with the shampoo. Not only that, my scalp didn’t get as oily the next day as it normally would. Game-changer! Even though I only apply conditioner to my ends, maybe there is something to cleansing as the final step.

While others have reported additional pros like more volume or shine, how your hair responds depends on your unique hair type. For reference, I have fine, straight hair with an oily scalp. For me personally, my one-week stint turned into a long-term switch. I’m sticking to pre-shampoo conditioning until further notice. Want to join me? Here’s what Beautylish recommends based on hair type.

For fine, limp hair, Beautylish recommends Verb Volume Shampoo and Verb Volume Conditioner

For a congested scalp, Beautylish recommends Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal Coconut Oil Micro Exfoliating Shampoo and Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Super Moisture Conditioner

For dry strands, Beautylish recommends Briogeo Superfoods Apple Matcha and Kale Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner Duo

For colored hair, Beautylish recommends Oribe Shampoo for Beautiful Color and Oribe Conditioner for Beautiful Color

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