Lately, I’ve been noticing a steady sprinkle of articles in my news feed with the words “reverse washing” in the title. Many of them sounding like accusatory clickbait, screaming “YOU ARE WASHING YOUR HAIR WRONG!!!”
How do you wash hair wrong? “Reverse washing” sounds like the thing I do all week, where I actually do not wash it and just use dry shampoo for days. So I had to see what could possibly be wrong with the traditional “lather, rinse, condition” routine. Reverse washing is as simple as it sounds. You condition your hair first, and then shampoo. Immediately my thoughts went to the Sahara Desert that would become my hair if I tried that. That’s a big fat NOPE for me. I clicked out of that article and went on living my life.
But the articles just continued to pop up whenever I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook, some of them repeat postings. In no way was my whole feed bogged down, but the annoyance I had at the idea of reverse washing resurfaced every time I saw one. I went to cosmetology school. I’ve been licensed for years now…I know how to wash hair! How dare these articles try to tell me something that I wasn’t taught in the 2000 hours I spent at school surrounded by instructors?
Finally, I gave in. Mostly to be able to tell people “don’t do that” if they asked about this method.
Ugh. I’m so mad.
I’m so mad because my results were actually pretty amazing.
First of all, let me say that I do not condone the patronizing tone most of these articles have as a title. It’s a serious pet peeve of mine lately. You are not washing your hair wrong if you don’t use this method. That is all that it is, simply another method to try. If you choose to scoff the very idea and never try it, no worries. Why fix a routine that isn’t broken? But if you have fine hair, want your texture to improve, or want more shine and volume…this is definitely worth a try!
As I mentioned before I envisioned to be deprived of what little moisture I manage to retain in my hair. I have fine, naturally curly hair that I color often. And when I say “color often” I really mean I drastically change the color several times a year. Most recently, I was lightening my hair and maintaining a semi-permanent blue. Needless to say, my hair is a bit dry and I use more hair oil and smoothing serums than any person should be allowed. I also deep condition often.
Alright, let’s get down to specifics. Some sites will tell you to simply condition, rinse, then shampoo. Others will tell you to condition and do not rinse, then shampoo it all out. I can tell you that this method can take a little experimenting and either way could work. Personally, I have better results when I don’t rinse the conditioner before shampooing. As far as which products to use, that is also to your discretion. Thicker, creamier conditioner formulas do work better than ones that tend to be waterier. Thinner formulas will be stripped out of the hair easier by the shampoo. Both professional lines and drugstore lines have been proven effective.
So how did it go for me? I used a salon brand set of shampoo and conditioner that were formulated to boost volume. I got my hair completely saturated with water, squeezed out all excess water so the conditioner could soak in better. After thoroughly saturating my hair with conditioner, I carried on with my usual shower business, letting it set while I shaved my legs and had the obligatory period of soaking up as much scalding hot water as possible. Then I grabbed my shampoo! I will admit, it feels so wrong doing it in this order. But, oh well. I shampooed and rinsed. So far, my hair felt no different than normal. I let my hair air dry for a bit before blow drying the rest of the moisture out, only using a couple drops of serum.
What is this??? My hair was soft. Really soft. I decided to use my flat iron, which tends to accentuate any split ends I have. Now I KNOW I am in desperate need of a haircut. My scraggly ends are really hard to ignore. But, once my hair is styled after reverse washing, my normally scratchy, straw-like hairs are soft as a feather and behaving very well. My hair is shiny and has fantastic movement. I use less product for styling and my scalp feels less dry, score! I usually wait at least a day or two between washings, but the next few times I used this method, I was more than pleased with the results.
As much as I am a convert and love reverse washing, I would not use it absolutely every time I wash my hair. If my scalp feels particularly dirty or I have used more hairspray than normal, I would definitely shampoo first to ensure that all product buildup is taken care of. And this does not replace getting a regular trim for truly healthy hair.
Now, I put this to the ultimate test (for me). Recently I decided to remove all semi-permanent color from my hair and get to platinum. *Do not do this at home by yourself.* My hair had already been lightened, with bleach retouches for months beforehand for the semi-permanent colors. But one more all over bleaching session was needed to get the color out and boost my blonde to the level I desired. It turned out fantastically!
However, my hair was left all that much drier. So I gave my hair a couple of days to rest before I tried the reverse washing method…
Again, I was totally surprised at the results. My hair is soft, but not weighed down. It’s shiny, but not greasy. It feels cleaner for longer…you know we all have those times where we rely on our dry shampoo for *ahem* several days. I still only use minimal product while styling. My hair looks fuller. I’m sold.
Bottom line…It is absolutely worth a try. It sounds crazy, I know. It may take some tweaking in your routine. I will take some brain overriding to not automatically grab your shampoo bottle first. The worst reviews I’ve had of this method from others weren’t even “bad” experiences, they just didn’t care for it and went back to their regular washing routine. It may not be your cup of teas. That’s okay. But any time I can share a great beauty tip using items you already possess, I’m totally going to!
Have you tried reverse washing yet? How did it work, or not, for you?