For both men and women, there are so many kinds of shampoos and conditioners to choose from at the store.
Using the correct techniques can make a world of difference in your hair’s health, bounce and shine—but if you’re making some common mistakes, you could be damaging your lovely locks without even realizing it.
1. Start with a rinse
Just like your laundry needs a rinse cycle before you add detergent, hair should be thoroughly wet before you add your shampoo. “Hot water will open the cuticle, which is good for removing any dirt or product trapped in the hair,” says White. Another bonus: “When your hair is rinsed in warm water, it loosens the oils through the scalp and opens the cuticle so it is able to absorb the oil” in your conditioner, says Saviano.
2. If you have long hair, condition first
Yes, really! “If you have hair beneath the shoulders, protect fragile ends from drying out and further damage by running a small amount of conditioner through them and lightly rinsing, before any shampooing. This will not only keep ends healthy, it will fill any holes in the cuticle with moisture, making it smoother and boosting shine,” says White.
3. Lather up — but only at the scalp
“You only need to shampoo the hair at the scalp, particularly at the nape,” Saviano says. White agrees. “The best way to lather up is from roots to ends. The hair closest to the scalp is the youngest and will inevitably be the oiliest, while the end of the hair is the oldest and usually driest, most fragile part of the hair.” Don’t use more shampoo than you need; both Saviano and White say that a quarter-sized amount of shampoo is enough. If your hair is particularly long or thick, go ahead and double that.
4. Be gentle!
Friction can permanently damage your hair’s cuticle, leading to breakage and frizz. Think about washing your hair like you hand wash your delicates very carefully. “Start your lather at the roots,” says White. “Increase blood flow to the scalp and stimulate hair growth by using vertical strokes with medium pressure.” Don’t use circular motions, which can tangle your hair. Next, “Smooth the lather over the ends in a straight stroking motion,” White advises.
5. Don’t rinse and repeat
Despite what the instructions on the back of your shampoo bottle may say, there’s no need to wash your hair twice. “Avoid stripping the hair by doing one shampoo only, which is usually sufficient,” says White. “Unless the hair is extremely dirty and the first shampoo didn’t produce a lather.” In that case, go ahead and lather up one more time.
6. Add conditioner from the mid-lengths to the tips
After you’ve rinsed out your shampoo, “squeeze some of the water out of the hair before you put in the conditioner,” says Saviano. “Then clip your hair up and finish showering, leaving the conditioner rinse out for the final step of your shower.” The longer the conditioner stays on your hair, the better it absorbs. Don’t put conditioner at the roots of your hair; the natural oil from your scalp is more concentrated there.
7. Finish with a cold water rinse
“Cold water will shut the cuticle tight, sealing the shingle-like outer layer, which will cause it to reflect the most light and give off the most shine,” says White.