Shampoo or Conditioner First

By Josef Mohamed
Jun 13, 2024
shampoo or conditioner first

In this article, we'll explore the roles of shampoo and conditioner, guiding you on which to use first and why it matters for your hair type.

The Difference Between Shampoo and Conditioner

Shampoo cleanses the hair and scalp using detergents and surfactants to remove dirt and oil.
Conditioner lacks cleansing agents and focuses on moisturizing and detangling hair with components like natural oils, silicones, or proteins.

a young woman observing her hair in the mirror

Who Should Use Shampoo or Conditioner First?

Deciding whether to use shampoo or conditioner first can significantly impact the health and appearance of your hair. Here's a breakdown to help you determine the best method for your hair type:

Shampoo First, Then Conditioner

Ideal for most hair types: This traditional method works best for:

  • Oily Hair: Effectively removes excess oil from the scalp and hair.
  • Normal Hair: Cleanses the scalp while the following conditioner helps maintain hydration balance.
  • Thick or Curly Hair: Ensures thorough cleansing followed by deep conditioning to handle thicker textures without leaving residues.

Standard Washing Effects:

  • Shampoo cleanses by removing buildup, dirt, and oils, preparing the hair for conditioning.
  • Conditioner then smooths and seals the hair cuticle, aiding in hydration and detangling.

Conditioner First, Then Shampoo

Ideal for specific hair types: Using conditioner before shampoo, known as reverse washing, can be particularly beneficial for:

  • Dry Hair: Adds moisture without leaving hair feeling heavy.
  • Damaged Hair: Protects hair strands during shampooing, reducing further damage.
  • Fine Hair: Prevents shampoo from stripping away essential oils while ensuring hair doesn't feel weighed down after washing.

Effects of Reverse Washing:

  • Conditioner acts as a protective barrier, allowing even shampoo distribution without stripping hair.
  • Helps maintain the hair's natural oils and moisture levels.
  • Can improve manageability and reduce frizz, especially in coarse or curly hair types.

When to Use Only Shampoo?

Using only shampoo may be appropriate in certain situations:

  • Heavy Buildup: Effective for cleaning out excessive product buildup, dirt, and oils.
  • Oily Scalp: Ideal if your scalp tends to be oily, preventing further greasiness.
  • Short Hair: Sufficient for very short hairstyles, where conditioner may not be necessary.
  • Pre-Styling: Good for preparing hair for styles that require less slip, such as updos or braids.
  • Scalp Focus: This is useful when the primary concern is scalp cleanliness rather than hair conditioning, especially in non-dry hair types.

When to Use Only Conditioner? (Co-Washing)

Co-washing, or conditioner-only washing, is suitable for specific hair types and conditions:

  • Curly and Wavy Hair: These textures benefit from co-washing as they maintain moisture and enhance curl definition without stripping natural oils.
  • Color-Treated Hair: Co-washing helps preserve color vibrancy by avoiding the harsh detergents in shampoos that can fade color.
  • Dry Hair: It provides dry or brittle hair hydration, improving manageability and reducing breakage.
a young woman applying conditioner to her wet hair

Co-Washing vs Reverse Washing | The Difference

Understanding the distinction between co-washing and reverse washing is crucial for choosing the right method for your hair needs:


  • Single Product Cleansing: In co-washing, only one product—a conditioner or a cleansing conditioner—is used to cleanse and condition the hair. This method is particularly beneficial for those with very dry hair or curly textures, as it hydrates while gently removing buildup without the harshness of traditional shampoos.

Reverse Washing:

  • Two-Step Process: Reverse washing involves applying a conditioner to protect and moisturize the hair, followed by shampoo to cleanse it. This method still uses shampoo and a conditioner but in reverse order, aiming to provide hydration without leaving hair heavy or greasy.

Final Thoughts

Throughout this article, we've explored various hair care techniques from understanding when to use shampoo or conditioner first to the benefits of co-washing and reverse washing. Each method serves unique purposes: enhancing moisture retention, protecting hair color, or ensuring thorough cleansing without stripping natural oils.

Luxe-Cosmetics Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner are highly recommended for those looking to promote hair growth while maintaining health and moisture. These products are formulated with nourishing ingredients to foster stronger, healthier hair.

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Josef Mohamed

Josef Mohamed is a Content Marketer and Web Designer with over 6 years of experience.He brings a wealth of knowledge to his work, making him a reliable source for readers interested in practical insights about beauty.His writing style is straightforward, aiming to provide real facts and avoid common myths in the beauty industry.