Reverse Washing: Everything You Need to Know

Updated 01/27/18
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Lather, rinse, repeat. Condition, rinse, dry. Right? Maybe not. The trend for reverse washing calls for us to throw the (fairly short) hair washing rule book out the window and, quite simply, reverse the process.

First you condition, then you shampoo, meaning that any heavy conditioner residues are rinsed out, so hair is not weighed down. This might sound bonkers (the purpose of a conditioner being to, well, condition and nourish locks), but for those of you with fine, oily or limp hair, this little trick could be just what your lifeless locks need. Keep scrolling to find out exactly how to reverse wash at home.

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This trend is predominantly for fine and oily hair types who still want the hydrating and conditioning benefits of a hair treatment without the weight and excess moisture. If you’re often tempted to do away with conditioner altogether but find that you suffer from particularly dry ends or battle with the brush after every wash, this could be the technique for you.

Don’t write off giving reverse washing a go if you’ve got thick or dry hair, though. The technique can also be used to switch up your look and achieve different textures. Gareth Williams, Headmasters’ Artistic Ambassador told us: “Reverse washing has a number of benefits for your hair, in particular, creating lots of different textures and adding more volume.” So it’s a great technique to employ before a night out where you want look-at-me root lift or super-voluminous waves.

“Hydrating the hair fibre before cleansing is a great way to provide some much-needed repair to the cuticle, which allows the hair to look much healthier,” says Gareth. “Apply a generous amount of conditioner once a week before shampooing, then dry the hair without any products.”

The result? “This will give you a super-fresh, carefree texture, which looks healthy and is perfect for medium-textured hair. It was my favourite look of the season at the Issa S/S 16 LFW.”

If you’re worried about heat treating your hair after reverse washing without any product, try spritzing through with a super-light heat protecting spray such as L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Hydra Repair Weightless Enriching Treatment (£13) before blow-drying.

If your ends need a little extra TLC, you can still give this technique a go. Clare Bonney at Radio London told us: “It’s best to leave conditioner on the ends, don’t rinse, give a quick splash of water to roots again, then follow with shampoo. If the conditioner is rinsed completely there is nothing sealing the cuticle.” 

L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Hydra Repair Weightless Enriching Treatment $13
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You can use your favourite shampoo and conditioner combination in reverse to trial this trend or even experiment with a richer, heavier conditioning treatment that you’ve previously avoided for weighing down your locks.

If you want something more tailored to the trend, TRESemmé has just launched the first mass-market line specifically designed for reverse washing. The Beauty-Full Volume range (from £5) consists of a pre-wash conditioner, a shampoo, a volume maximizer (a lightweight conditioning product to be used after washing) and a volume mousse. This line is a great option for everyday reverse-washers, as the products have been specially designed to be used in this way.

TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Reverse System Pre-Wash Conditioner $5
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TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Shampoo $5
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Just don’t do what we did the first few times and forget you’re reverse washing after the shampoo stage. Conditioner, shampoo, conditioner, shampoo, conditioner… It can get exhausting.

Have you tried reverse washing your hair? Share your experience in the comment box below.

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