Should We Be Using Conditioner Before We Shampoo?

Victoria Moorhouse
conditioning treatments

Photo: ImaxTree

Applying conditioner before shampoo feels backwards and kind of wrong, like wearing your clothes inside out or reading the last chapter of a book before you even get to the intro. But switching up this 2-step, age-old beauty routine every now and again may have some big benefits for your hair.

The main reason you’d ever use a conditioner before you shampoo is if you’re using a pre-shampoo treatment. According to Butterfly Studio Salon Master Stylist, Nicole Descoteaux, these pre-shampoo treatments can be conditioners that are heavier than your average daily conditioner and give “deeper nourishment.”

“They nourish and hydrate without added weight, help to prime the hair cuticle, and offer detangling,” notes Descoteaux. But pre-shampoo treatments don’t just target moisture, and they can range in form. “There are also pre-shampoo formulas that target the scalp to detoxify, treat, and stimulate,” she says.

Many brands have created deep-conditioning, pre-poo formulas, including Kerastase with its Nutritive Immersion Nutritive ($42, kerastase-usa.com) and Alterna Haircare’s Moisture Intense Oil Creme Pre-Shampoo Treatment ($30, sephora.com).

And if you have fine hair that weighs down fast but needs some extra TLC, Descoteaux says that it could be a game changer. “I personally am a big fan of pre-conditioning myself, and the clients who have tried it are too—especially those with fine hair types,” she says. “It works as well across the board on other hair types but when hair is fine, conditioner will often weigh it down.”

Normally, you then follow these treatments with a shampoo and a regular conditioner. How often you use pre-shampoo treatments really depends on the health of your hair, as you might not need the extra surge of moisture every single day.

However, TREsemmé has just released a new pre-shampoo conditioner that’s specifically made to be used every day. Yep, it’s a regular, daily conditioner designed to be used before you shampoo, which makes it different than your average deep conditioner.

It’s called TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner ($5, target.com), and according to TRESemmé Celebrity Stylist John D., it’s made to hydrate and smooth frizz without weighing it down.

“Using the TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner first allows the technology in the system leave a smooth weightless finish to the hair, ensuring that hair is full of natural looking volume that is frizz-free and perfect for styling,” he says.

After you apply the conditioner, you can then shampoo without worrying about stripping your locks. We tried it out for a few weeks and were honestly worried the reversal would dry out our hair. Instead, we found that making the switch left it feeling light healthy, bouncy, and hydrated.

So should you reverse this process for good with a regular conditioner? Probably not. It might not be strong enough to give you the nourishment you need, so sticking to the norm might be best.

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