With fine blonde hair, I’ve always been wary of any hair products that say "deep conditioner" or "ultra hydrating" on the bottle. For me, that was just code for limp, lifeless strands. It took me about three years working as a beauty editor before I even attempted to use a hair mask! And while I did get on board with conditioning treatments eventually, they really only made my hair feel good—not necessarily look better.
Then, a slew of new products started arriving on my desk: pre-shampoo treatments. These hydrating products work a lot like masks, but you put them on BEFORE you shampoo. I've heard of this type of product before for women with thick and curly hair (hot oil treatments are just one example). But with more stylists recommending this reverse shampoo method for fine hair, I figured it was time to put my experimental editor shoes on. Would putting the conditioner on first leave my hair hydrated and voluminous or just limp and greasy? Here's what I found out.
What are the benefits of a pre-shampoo treatment?
Before I dove right in, I talked to the experts to learn all the benefits (and potential pitfalls) of reverse shampooing. My first question: Is this going to work on my fine hair? According to Travis Valdez, senior stylist at Salon Thalia and artistic team member with Shu Uemura, the pre-conditioning concept is beneficial for pretty much any hair type that suffers from damage or dryness. That's me! My hair tends to lose moisture from regular coloring and heat styling a couple times a week.
John D, one of Tresemmé's lead celebrity stylists, explains that the pre-wash conditioning makes hair light and soft. "It works just the same as any wash and care system," explains John D, "The only difference is that you begin with conditioner." So, to no surprise, the first step in this reverse shampooing process is to apply the conditioner on wet hair, leaving it on for a few minutes. Rinse. Then, you apply shampoo. It's just like a regular wash, just in reverse order.
"The conditioning agent acts as a bandage over the hair first,” says Valdez. By using the pre-shampoo conditioning, the harsh cleansers in shampoos (like sulfates) that strip your hair of its natural oils can't penetrate as deep and damage the follicles. The barrier the conditioner makes protects the hair cuticle for a more gentle, nourishing cleanse. Supposedly, with this method you will see less breakage along the hair shaft and softer, shinier strands. Count me in!
Unlike a typical hair mask that soaks into the strands and is then rinsed with just water, a pre-shampoo conditioner won't weigh the hair down. This is because the shampoo applied afterwards washes away those heavy ingredients. Depending on how often you wash your hair, Valdez recommends doing reverse shampooing only half of the time. “So if you wash your hair four times a week, you can do a pre-shampoo condition two of those times.” John D. explains that while the conditioner gives a softer cleanse, it doesn't necessarily give the cleanest cleanse. So it's best to still do shampoo first every so often.
So, I decided to give it a try.
If I go two days without washing my fine hair, it’s greasy. And recently, I've been dealing with dry, brittle ends, too. So I was curious to see if this treatment would help balance the moisture in my hair.
I used Tresemmé’s Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Shampoo & Conditioner ($5 each, target.com). In the shower, it felt exactly the same as a typical shampoo and conditioner, just in their reverse order. After stepping out and towel drying, my hair felt surprisingly soft to the touch but full of movement. After completely drying, each strand was incredibly silky and smooth. In shock, I made my boyfriend keep petting it, showing off my new favorite beauty discovery. I just could not believe how soft it was and it didn't look flat at all!
Typically when I target hydration, it results in limp and lifeless tresses. Sure the moisture issue is solved, but my style is left with no personality. That’s a give-and-take I’ve learned to live with. But after doing the pre-wash conditioner, my hair had great body and shape, especially for just an air-dry job. My hair sits in place looking clean and healthy, and I even get the smallest bit of volume at the roots (the holy grail for a woman with thin hair like mine). And that's without round brushes or hair dryers! I find myself touching and brushing my hair a lot more after I do this system.
Since testing it for the first time a couple months ago, I find myself reaching for conditioner first at least once a week. Long term, I've noticed less split ends and my hair seems healthier–even though I'm long overdue for a trim.
Can you use any conditioner to pre-shampoo?
While I encourage you to take part in this pre-shampoo conditioning concept, you have to have the right kind of shampoo and conditioner. "Swapping any old shampoo and conditioner can't offer you that same touchable, soft volume," explains John D. There are a few specially formulated products that won’t strip your hair, weigh it down, or leave greasy residue behind. Besides Tresemmé, here are some of my other favorites.
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Original article and pictures take http://www.self.com/story/reverse-shampoo-method site