Should You Condition Before You Shampoo?

The latest hair trend turns everything you know about washing your hair on its head. Find out if this major tweak is the secret to softer, smoother, and more voluminous hair.

Like lightning and thunder, shampoo followed by conditioner has always seemed like the natural order of things. But recently, reverse washing -- that is, conditioning before you wash -- has taken the hair-care industry by, well, storm. And guess what? People love it. Like really, really love it. In fact, some major brands have created lines dedicated to the backward routine.

Where did the idea come from? It may have started on the salon scene. Julien Farel, owner of the Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa in New York City, started reverse washing some of his clients long before it was trendy. His main motivation: to protect dry, curly, or damaged hair from friction caused by washing. "If I wash their hair first, I run the risk of tangling and mangling the hair," he says. For fragile, extremely coarse or dry, or easily knotted hair types, Farel conditions first, combs through hair, washes, and then conditions once more.

Those with fine hair find conditioning first is a way to hydrate their hair without weighing it down. Any heavy residue is washed away, and hair is left hydrated but still bouncy.

So, can you try it with any old conditioner? If your hair is dry, curly, or damaged, Farel says you can do it with a really rich or highly concentrated formula. If your strands are fine, it's best to use a formula that's been specifically designed to be used before shampoo, otherwise the benefits may get washed away. Try TREsemmé Beauty Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner ($5,, or Kérastase Soin Premier Therapiste ($42,

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