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Do You Use Shampoo or Conditioner First? What Happens if You Use Conditioner Before Shampoo?

3 mins

Rahul Bhatia

Do you use shampoo or conditioner first? Have you ever tried applying conditioner before shampoo? Let’s find out what happens if you do!

Regardless of the products we use, most of us wash our hair the same way: we shampoo (rinse, lather, rinse, repeat), then apply the conditioner. Anything other than that may seem unusual and downright wrong. But is shampooing before conditioning the only way to wash your hair? 

Reverse shampooing, also known as pre-wash conditioning, is a revolutionary method of washing your hair that involves applying conditioner before shampoo. 

So, which strategy is the most effective? While the standard shampoo-first procedure is still the best option for most people, depending on your hair type and preferences, you may find it useful to try a different method every now and then.

Table of contents:

  • Shampoo & its Functionalities
  • Conditioner & its Applications
  • What happens when conditioner is used before shampoo?
  • Conclusion

Shampoo & its Functionalities

The shampoo is a hair care product usually available in a viscous liquid form (in rare cases as a bar) used to remove dirt, dead skin cells, sebum, and environmental pollutants from the scalp and the surface of the hair. It acts as a cleansing agent that lathers. It is applied on wet hair, massaged onto the scalp and along the length of the hair, and rinsed off thoroughly with water.

Conditioner & its Applications

As the name suggests, conditioner is a hair conditioning, moisturizing, and smoothening agent, meant to make the mane softer and silkier. It also makes the hair frizz-free, prevents tangles and makes the hair easier to manage. It is typically applied on wet hair along the length (not on the scalp), massaged on the hair, and washed off.

how to apply conditioner, when to apply conditioner

What happens when conditioner is used before shampoo?

There are some claimed benefits to switching up the order in which you use shampoo and conditioner - but do they make sense? Yes, reversing the order of your hair care routine can, in some cases, turn out to be beneficial.

For instance, if you have fine hair, you may have encountered a common hair problem: weighed-down, even greasy-feeling strands after conditioning with ultra-nourishing products, which is where reverse washing might help.

Because you'll be shampooing after you condition your hair, reverse washing will still provide your strands the hydration and nourishment they need from the conditioner, but it won't leave them feeling heavy and limp. Although reverse washing is said to be particularly advantageous for those with greasy, fine hair, there's no reason why those with different hair types can't benefit from it, from time to time.

hair shampoo and conditioner use

Since reverse hair washing is relatively new, here are some steps to help you understand this type of hair care:

  1. Allow the conditioner to stay for a few minutes after gently massaging it into your hair.
  2. Apply shampoo to your hair and lather it without rinsing away the conditioner.
  3. Rinse out both the shampoo and the conditioner together.

Even if you decide to use conditioner before shampoo, I, however, don't recommend trying reverse washing with just any shampoo and conditioner combination. For best results, you want to be using a sulfate and parabens free shampoo and a silicone free conditioner. For that reason, these shampoo & conditioner packs make an ideal choice:

WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Avocado Oil Hair Conditioner Set 

WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Avocado Oil Hair Conditioner Set


The Apple cider vinegar shampoo is rich in nutrients and natural oils and ingredients like
Almond Oil, Argan Oil, Nettle leaf extract, Saw palmetto extract, and raw Apple cider vinegar that make it an excellent option to treat dry and itchy scalp, dandruff, frizzy and rough hair. On the other hand, the conditioner is packed with the goodness of avocado oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Argan Oil, and other plant-based ingredients that help retain the natural hydration of the hair. 

WOW, Skin Science Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner Pack

WOW, Skin Science Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner Pack


WOW Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner pack contain coconut milk, Nettle leaf extract, Saw palmetto extract, and a myriad of natural oils, essential oils and other nourishing natural ingredients. The WOW Skin Science Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner Set is the perfect choice for anyone looking for naturally boosted hair. It ensures better nourishment, fuller and thicker mane, added luster, and better moisturization.  

WOW, Skin Science Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Pack 

Treat your dry and damaged hair with the goodness of Moroccan Argan oil and a panoply of natural extravaganzas like Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera extract, Saw palmetto Extract, Nettle leaf extract, and Sweet Almond oil, among others. This set of shampoo and conditioner is great for dry, damaged, frizzy, and uncontrollable hair. It is packed with natural ingredients known for nourishing, moisturizing, adding volume to your hair, reducing hair loss, stimulating hair growth, improving hair texture, and strengthening the hair follicles. It is also rich in essential vitamins that help to rejuvenate the hair and boost scalp health.  

WOW, Skin Science Red Onion Black Seed Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set

WOW, Skin Science Red Onion Black Seed Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set


Use the Red Onion Black Seed Oil set of shampoo and conditioner to improve hair growth, stimulate new hair formation, deep cleanse the scalp, control dandruff, repair damaged hair, and tame uncontrollable frizzy hair. 

Conclusion

Shampoos are traditionally used before conditioners to ensure that the hair and scalp get thoroughly cleansed. While there is no scientific evidence to support the claimed benefits of reverse hair washing, some stylists recommend it to those with very dry or fine hair who want to benefit from the advantages of conditioners, without compromising on hair volume. 

Still, reverse hair washing should be only be done occasionally to prevent scalp and hair buildup that will furthermore weigh down your hair. For instance, you can use it when vacationing at the beach, to prevent your hair from getting too dry and straw-like. 

Use these awesome picks to try reverse shampooing and let us know how it worked out for you! 

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Rahul Bhatia

Rahul is the published author of "Heads Or Tails" and Quora writer with over 1.6 million views. He is a keen observer who enjoys the simple joys of life. He strongly believes true beauty is not how beautiful your face is but how beautiful your heart is.

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