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Reverse regime: Does conditioner before shampoo work?

Debby Harrington

Some things are just done in a certain order.

You go to primary school before high school, you eat your veggies (to get it out the way) before you have dessert. You shampoo and then you condition.

Traditional, even boring perhaps, that’s just the way of the world. But now, the way we wash our hair might have been turned upside down.

You might have heard about TRESemme’s reverse regime where you condition first and then shampoo. It threw my great order of hair washing into disarray. Is this really the new way?

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Here’s what we’ve always known: shampoo opens the cuticle to penetrate the hair shaft all the way to the cuticle, removing dirt and oils. Then you condition to seal that cuticle, moisturise, treat and help detangle.

Sounds pretty simple. But, if you’re after a bit of shine, body and bounce, there might be another option for you.

Using TRESemme’s pre-wash conditioner, it hydrates, smooths and softens. The ingredients “bind to the cuticle (of the hair) to keep strands polished yet never flat,” according to the TRESemme website. Then the shampoo cleanses and removes excess weight.

To get the insider info, I asked two Canberra hairdressers what they think of the big switch and if we should all flip it and reverse it?

Lexi Bannister isn’t a fan.

“If you do it backwards, the shampoo leaves the cuticle open making it easier to damage your hair,” she says. “Conditioner is there to close it. If your hairdresser has recommended the right product for your hair type it shouldn’t be an issue.

“I personally wouldn’t recommend it. It’s another fad I’m not getting on the bandwagon of.”

Jenni Tarrant, owner of Bond Hair Religion, says it’s a gimmick.

“One of the best ways to get people to buy your products is to market them with a gimmick. It appears to me that the ‘condition first’ idea is exactly that,” she says.  “There are many products consumers purchase which in fact add no value whatsoever to their lives and this appears to be one of them.”

“To truly achieve full volume for your hair, see a professional who can assess your hair and recommend the best salon quality products for you. Many people can’t get volume because their hair products are too heavy for their hair type. Sometimes it is that simple.”

“There are many specialist and valid products available for volume, and no need to fall for marketing hype.”

Like Lexi and Jenni say, it’s all about making sure you have the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. Here’s a breakdown of what you should be using. PS, it should always be sulfate free.

Curly hair

Pick a shampoo and conditioner with smoothing ingredients

Fine hair

Go for something that’ll add volume

Dry hair

A hydrating shampoo and conditioner will moisturise

Oily hair

Clarifying shampoo and conditioner is recommended, as is dry shampoo do you don’t have to wash your hair everyday

If you’ve tried the reverse regime, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at [email protected] or on Facebook and Instagram.


Debby Harrington

Debby is a journalist by trade who grew up in Perth before making her way to Canberra. As long as she can remember, her mother has always followed a beauty routine methodically, morning and night, which is where Debby developed her taste for the world of beauty. Debby loves trying new products and can’t live without lip balm, sunscreen and concealer. She also has her own blog featuring all things fashionable and beautiful so check out More about the Author

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