After doing a certain ritual for so many years, there always comes a time when you challenge the routine by asking questions like why do I do this and could I still have the same effect if I did something else? This is what happens to us with our shampoo and conditioning. What is your hair care ritual? I detangle, shampoo, and condition every time. What do you do and why do you do it? At some point, I heard the question,
“Can you shampoo after conditioning?” Not knowing how to immediately respond caused me to dig deep within my own knowledge and experience. I sought out key contributors of our beauty industry for insight on the topic. This method could change the way your hair feels after wash day, for some the change will be positive and others it may be negative. But knowing that there is another way beyond the traditional directions on every bottle may open your eyes to new ways of using your favorite products.
The Purpose of Shampoo
Shampoo was created to cleanse our hair and scalp of dirt, shed skin, dust particle debris, product buildup, and excess sebum, the natural oil produced by our scalp. The active ingredients that cause this cleansing action are surfactants. Surfactant molecules have a hydrophilic heads and a lipophilic tails. The lipophilic end attaches to the debris causing it to cluster into little balls that can be washed away. The hydrophilic end attaches to water molecules, causing the debris to rinse off. As the hair is rinsed, the dirt and other debris are washed away. Although there are many different types of cleansers, the average shampoo will have a pH of 8, which is slightly alkaline. At this level, the hair shaft will swell to raise the outer layers of the cuticle (that protect inner workings of the hair) similar to limbs on a tree.
The Purpose of Conditioner
Conditioner was created to strengthen and moisturize the hair after shampooing. Conditioners have a pH between 3.5-6. It’s purpose is to bring your hair back into a healthy moisture balance and smooth or “close” the cuticle while detangling and preparing the hair for the rigors of styling. This happens through the cationic surfactants within the conditioner that carry a positive electric charge that binds to the negative charge of the hair strand. These surfactants coat the hair, leaving a thin film that adheres to the cuticle, providing moisture, protection, and manageability.
Shampoo AFTER Conditioner
Anna Purseglove of Daily Mail considers reverse shampooing the secret to perfect hair. Touting her much desired benefits of detangling, and glossing along with extra volume. She states,“ I could see a marked difference in my hair. Not only did it leave my hair shinier, it helped combat frizz caused when particles of dirt stuck to the residual product. Best of all, it felt softer yet thicker.” Utilizing this technique would first coat the hair strand with binding surfactants followed by the shampoo which would remove most of what is currently present, depending on chosen shampoo. Typically this technique would not utilize a follow-up conditioner.