It's especially useful for those with dry strands.

By Rachel Wermager
Updated May 29, 2020
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Like lightning and thunder, shampoo followed by conditioner has always seemed like the natural order of things. But reverse washing, which is conditioning your hair before shampooing, has taken the hair-care industry by, well, storm. And guess what? People love it. Some major brands have created lines dedicated to the backward routine.

Where did the idea start? It might have begun in the salon scene. Julien Farel, the 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 primary 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 the hair, washes, and then conditions once more.

Yonna Dante/Getty Images

Those with fine hair find conditioning first is a way to hydrate strands without weighing them down. Any heavy residue rinses out, 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 try this process with a really rich or highly concentrated formula. If your strands are fine, it's best to use a formula that's specifically designed to be used before shampoo; otherwise, the benefits may get washed away. Try TREsemmé Beauty Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner ($5, Walgreen), or Kérastase Soin Premier Therapiste Pre-Shampoo ($24, Amazon).

If the idea of plumping up thin locks and restoring moisture to curly hair sounds appealing, give this simple conditioning technique a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Comments (1)

June 27, 2020
Oh come on. Trendy it may be but new idea it is not. Black women with natural (wavy, curly, kinky) hair have been using conditioner first or only for decades. In the YouTube era it came to be known as "co-wash" a conditioning wash. Still shaking my head.