When it comes to shampooing and conditioning your hair, applying shampoo before conditioner is the standard. But is it the best hair care routine?
Read on to find out why the order in which you apply shampoo and conditioner is so important when washing your hair —plus, learn what products you should be using for your shampooing and conditioning routine.
Shampoo First, Condition Second
While it may sound like a no-brainer, a traditional "shampoo first" routine is best.
“You should almost always use shampoo before conditioner," said Jay Jackson, East Coast-based celebrity hairstylist of Stacey Smoker Hair & Co. "Shampoo creates a nice, even surface, exfoliating the area and removing any buildup, so the conditioner that follows can then do its job. It’s just like the first step of a cleansing agent in skincare. People don't always realize that hair is an extension of the skin. Your hair and scalp are an ecosystem in and of themselves.”
Professional hairstylist, authentic beauty concept advocate and ULTA Beauty Design Team Member Justin Toves-Vincilione agrees.
“Applying shampoo is almost always step one in the cleansing process because it preps hair for any other products to follow,” he said. "Finding the right shampoo and conditioner is the key for healthy, manageable hair."
Set up your tresses for success by lathering up with GRO Revitalizing Shampoo to remove oil and product buildup. This nontoxic, gentle formula includes Karmatin™, a microencapsulated vegan b-silk™ protein that stays put on your hair after rinsing to leave hair radiant and silky-soft. And eliminating excess oil right off the bat will allow your hair to better absorb GRO Revitalizing Conditioner and primes it for products that follow. Plus, both of these products contain powerful phyto-actives to encourage thicker, fuller-looking hair.
When to Reverse Your Wash Day Routine
So is there ever a time to use conditioner before shampoo? An occasional reverse hair washing might be helpful for thick hair or to accommodate specific hair needs. Curious about what a reverse hair washing method entails? Here's more.
“In some situations, using a conditioner before shampoo can be beneficial," said Toves-Vincilione. "You can apply conditioner, hair masks or oils as reverse shampooing or a pre-shampoo treatment. This can help prepare your hair for the cleanse to come, providing added moisture and softness. This is especially beneficial for damaged hair from color or heat, extra dry ends or hair that's extremely unmanageable. If you do choose to pre-treat, you should always follow with a conditioner or hair mask post-shampoo.”
For reverse washing thicker hair, try ENSO 03 Shampoo and Conditioner for Thick Hair. With its intuitive technology that instantly adjusts to hair on contact, it provides ideal amounts of moisture, volume and Karmatin™ to suit the needs of thick tresses.
But the ENSO shampoo and conditioner line doesn't only work for thick hair. There are also ENSO formulas for fine and medium hair. No matter what type of hair you have, the ENSO line of shampoos and conditioners will deliver ideal amounts of moisture, volume, repair and protection to help your hair look its best.
And like Toves-Vincilione recommends, after a reverse shampoo, you should follow up with a conditioner or hair mask. Consider ENSO Overnight Restoring Hair Mask, which is perfect for any hair type. Like the ENSO shampoos and conditioners, the mask is also powered by Karmatin™ and works to hydrate, reduce frizz and enhance color and shine on a more intense level. And it's easy to use. Apply a quarter-sized amount on wet hair from scalp to ends and then leave on for 10 hours or overnight. Then, rinse and style as usual.
Hair Wash Habits Do's & Don'ts
Now that you know more about the order of applying shampoo and conditioner, here are some pro tips to maximize the benefits of your next hair wash.
Do Be Mindful
"Be mindful of the amount of shampoo and conditioner you’re using. Based on your hair type, density, texture and porosity, the amount may need to be adjusted," said Toves-Vincilione. "Focus shampoo on your root area, often where hair is most oily, and apply shampoo lightly on ends. Remember, the scalp produces natural oils on its own, so you don’t want to add to that by applying too much conditioner, especially if you’re naturally on the oily side."
Don't Forget to Treat Ends With TLC
"The ends of our hair need the most love! said Toves-Vincilione. "Apply conditioner here first, as ends tend to be on the dry side."
Do an Occasional Double Cleanse
“If you feel like your hair is always oily on day two or just never feels clean (even after a wash), try double-cleansing. Start with one shampoo application, work in, then rinse," said Toves-Vincilione. Repeat this process one more time. You’ll notice a better lather the second time around as this method provides a much deeper cleanse.”
Protect Your Hair Before Applying Heat
According to Jackson: "That could be a heat protectant or flexible hairspray so that you're not putting heat directly on clean, conditioned hair," he said. "Rather, the product is acting as a barrier between your clean, conditioned hair and the heat."
Don't Wash Hair Each Day
While it is important to shampoo regularly, that doesn't mean you should do it each day.
"For those that do daily intense athletic activities or exercise, you may want to wash hair after each workout," said Jackson. "Instead, simply do a quick hair rinse. Hair is not meant to be washed every day. You don’t want to overwash because it will dry out your hair. Rather, the goal of shampoo is to clarify your scalp and slightly clean your hair."
On those in-between days, use talc-free GRO Dry Shampoo to refresh strands without lathering up.
Do Start With Very Wet Hair
"Make sure hair is as wet as humanly possible before using shampoo and conditioner," said Jackson. "If it’s super dirty and not wet enough, then you'll use more shampoo than necessary. Thoroughly rinse all product out before applying conditioner."
Don't Go Overboard With Conditioner
“Conditioning should be applied based on your length, typically from midshaft to ends," said Jackson. "Use less conditioner, especially with shorter or fine hair. You can always go back and add more conditioner if needed, rather than having to rewash your hair completely.”
Do Watch the Water Temperature
What feels good on your body may not be the right temperature on your hair. Use lukewarm water as opposed to a steaming hot shower when it's a hair wash day.
“Hot water is going to open, while cold water is going to close,” said Jackson. "You want the water just warm enough to open hair while shampooing. Cold water gives your hair the opportunity to lock in gloss, color and/or a deep conditioning treatment."
Don't Be Overly Aggressive When Washing or Conditioning
"Working from the scalp, massage the fingers in a way that’s not aggravating but feels good," said Jackson. "You don’t want to scratch the scalp while doing a deep clean; that can cause abrasions which lead to more problems down the road."
Shop: GRO+ Advanced Replenishing Shampoo & Conditioner Kit with scalp-soothing therapeutic hemp oil and botanical extracts.
Do See Your Stylist Regularly
"Ideally, see your stylist four to six times a year, or at least once a season," said Jackson. "It’s important to have a stylist that understands and works with your lifestyle and budget. You don’t treat silk like cotton, so think of your hair in the same way: You want to maintain your investment.”
What, When and How Matter When Wash Your Hair
The road to healthy hair is a mindful experience. For best results, choose gentle, nourishing products that are designed to give your hair what it needs. Also, use the expert washing tips above to guide you as to when and how to wash your hair. Here's to your hair's health!
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