I had never heard of Reverse Washing before (NOTE: THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING AS CO-WASHING, which is when you use conditioner instead of shampoo), but according to Google, Reverse Washing has been around for quite some time. I tried it shortly after I received that tweet and I have been doing it off and on ever since. If you'd like to hear about my experiences, as well as why this might be a good fit for YOU, keep reading!
What is Reverse Hair Washing?
Simply put, it's washing your hair in reverse. You apply your conditioner first, then your shampoo.
Why Would Anyone Ever Want to Do This?
If your hair is thin, oily and/or prone to product build-up, doing these two steps in reverse may help you to achieve better results with your existing shampoos and conditioners (this includes products that perhaps never worked for you in the traditional way of using them, or even products that used to work for you, but stopped working for whatever reason).
Let me begin by telling you a bit about my own hair. For new readers, I have long, naturally wavy hair that's oily at the roots and dry at the ends. My hair is fine in texture, but I have a lot of it. My hair is prone to frizz if I don't use products with silicones (yes, I LOVE silicones and they work extremely well for me). I also color-treat my hair about once a month. You can see photos of my hair in a previous haircare review HERE (although my hair is not that color anymore).
The first time I tried Reverse Washing, I really didn't know what to do, other than get my hair wet, apply some conditioner and then apply some shampoo. I did a LOT of experimenting and I have finally narrowed it down to a system that works best for me (which I'll share with you in a moment). I have tried using this method with many different drugstore and salon brand shampoos and conditioners, and the one thing I really want to stress is that it might take a while to find a combination that works best for you. For me personally, some shampoos and conditioners work MUCH better than others for Reverse Washing.
Which brings me to my own personal winning combo:
image source: tresemme.com
TRESemme Healthy Volume 24 HR Body Shampoo and Conditioner
TRESemme Healthy Volume 24 HR Body Shampoo and TRESemme Healthy Volume 24 HR Body Conditioner Conditioner worked pretty well for me when used in the traditional way. The conditioner in particular is excellent at detangling and it has a lot of slip to it. But these products work even better (I mean, much, much better) when I use them for Reverse Washing.
This was the first shampoo and conditioner duo that I used for Reverse Washing, and it's still the one I keep going back to again and again. Since the conditioner is very moisturizing and has a lot of slip to it, I think that it clings nicely to the hair, which is something you want when you're going to follow up with shampoo. If you use a conditioner that rinses very cleanly and doesn't leave any type of residue or film behind on the hair to begin with, then chances are your hair is going to feel extremely dry if you use it for Reverse Washing. Does that make sense? OK good, let's move on!
Reverse Washing: You're Doing it Wrong.
If you've tried Reverse Washing and it didn't work for you, or if you've been thinking about it but perhaps are afraid that it's going to leave your hair a dry, brittle, tangly mess, here are the best tips that I can give you based on my own personal experiences:
1) Make sure that you hair is fully saturated with water before you apply your conditioner. If you hair isn't totally soaked with water, it's going to be difficult for you to distribute your conditioner throughout your hair from root to tip. Trust me on that one.
2) After you apply your conditioner, leave it in for the regular amount of time that you would normally use. I like to apply my conditioner, then go about my business (shaving my legs, etc.) before I use my shampoo. This is exactly how I do it when I use shampoo first, followed by conditioner, so nothing changes in terms of the amount of time spent in the shower.
3) When it's time to rinse, DON'T RINSE. This is the fatal error that many first-timers make. If you rinse your conditioner out and THEN apply shampoo, you're very likely going to end up with dry, brittle, tangled hair. Use your shampoo to remove your conditioner. Here's what I do: after my conditioner has been in my hair for several minutes, I quickly tilt my head in and out of the stream of my shower and get it a tiny bit more wet. Then, I apply my shampoo. I use about 25% less shampoo than I would use if I wasn't doing a Reverse Wash, because I don't want to strip my hair of all the conditioner. After I apply my shampoo, I lather and rinse as usual and...that's it!
Using the method above, I find that right after my shower when my hair is still wet, my hair feels almost exactly the same to the touch as when I use shampoo followed by conditioner (I attribute this to step #3 that I outlined above). But here's the crazy part: my hair looks and feels better after it dries. I don't know exactly why, but my hair consistently looks like a million bucks when I do a Reverse Wash with the TRESemme products I mentioned above, and what's even crazier is that my hair looks way better than it ever did when I used those products in the traditional way.
If I had to guess, I'd say that Reverse Washing leaves a different amount of conditioner residue on my hair, and that somehow makes all the difference. Using shampoo as that final step does something magical to my hair. I rarely use heat on my hair, and I don't always use styling products. I generally just use a bit of leave-in conditioner or styling cream, give my hair a few scrunches and let it air-dry. And doing this exact routine after Reverse Washing leaves my hair incredibly bouncy, healthy-looking and frizz-free. Also, my natural waves dry into little loose ringlets, which is something I work very hard to achieve (but rarely achieve when I cleanse my hair the traditional way).
Is Reverse Washing Right For You?
I obviously can't answer this question, but I can pose another question: how will you know unless you try? It sounds strange and counter-intuitive, yes. But does it work? For me, YES, YES AND YES. I had to go through some bad hair days until I figured out the right products and techniques, but I am so glad I hung in there and kept experimenting.
Will I Ever Go Back to Traditional Washing?
Of course. I just used a shampoo and conditioner in the traditional way the other day. For me, Reverse Washing has become something that I've added to my beauty routine, but it hasn't taken the place of anything. It's not always a good fit for me every day of the week. If I have skipped a few days when it comes to washing my hair, and I need to give it a good, deep cleansing, I don't Reverse Wash. But if I'm washing my hair every single day (which I am prone to do when the weather's warm) then I find that Reverse Washing works exceptionally well. I love to Reverse Wash the day after I've used a clarifying shampoo. I also love to Reverse Wash on days that I want my hair to look extra nice when I let it air-dry (oh it just works so well when I air-dry...I can't stress that enough!).
I hope this post helps those of you who have been thinking about giving this method a try. I also hope that my tips can help those of you who have tried, but didn't like, Reverse Washing. Hopefully some of you might have better results the next time you give it a shot!
Do you Reverse Wash? I would absolutely love to hear YOUR tips, tricks and experiences!
The products featured in this post were purchased with personal funds. For more information, click here.