HAIR | Reverse washing and other weird things to do with your conditioner


Reverse washing doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. You put your conditioner in your hair first, rinse it out and then go in with your shampoo. I was reluctant to try this because my current haircare (Bumble and Bumble) is expensive, and I don’t want to waste it by messing around with weird old wives’ tales, but Kate swears by it. There aren’t many bloggers whose advice I take without question, but she’s definitely up there.

So the idea is, you get your hair wet, slather it with conditioner, leave that in for a while, rinse it out and then bring in the shampoo. After a few tries I’ve adapted the method slightly, but that’s really the essence, and it works.

I’ll admit I can’t bring myself to throw conditioner into my dirty hair. It feels counterproductive, and my hair is usually so loaded with dry shampoo by the time I wash it that it really needs that cleaned out first. I keep a bottle of shitty supermarket shampoo in the shower and use a generous handful of that to give my hair a pre-clease before I go in with the good stuff. Most supermarket shampoos are loaded with sulfates and all the terrible things we’re meant to be avoiding; the one thing those sulfates are good at, however, is ridding your hair of a week’s worth of dry shampoo buildup. (I want to get the Bumble and Bumble Sunday shampoo for this purpose, but it seems a bit wasteful to spend so much money on this step.)


Next I put my conditioner through the mid-lengths and ends of my hair. At the moment I’m using the Bumble and Bumble Super Rich Conditioner, which does what it says by being super rich and moisturising. It was really good when my hair was all dead inside from being bleached, but now most of my hair is virgin (ooh), it’s maybe not so necessary. Regardless, into my hair it goes, then I clip it up and do other showery things while it soaks in.

The last step is to go back in with your shampoo again. It prevents your conditioner from weighing down your hair and leaving you with too much product residue. I use my Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo for this step and it’s honestly what makes the biggest difference in how my hair looks and behaves. This shampoo is fantastic. It’s perfectly transparent and you only need the tiniest amount to do your whole head, so it will last forever. I focus it on my roots to give extra lift there (it’s honestly tangible, the difference this stuff makes) and to make sure there’s no conditioner in that area, lurking and getting heavy.


Other weird things to do with conditioner: skip the shampoo entirely and use it as a single step (this one is called co-washing and is not where two people wash each other’s hair, as much as the name might imply… the co- part means co[nditioner]). Run the tiniest amount of conditioner through your ends and leave it there (this is one Matt suggested for Mum’s hair as it’s coloured and quite dry, and she swears by it). Put it in your beard (Callum does this one occasionally, and I can’t make a judgement here, as I don’t have a beard, but his beard is generally very nice!).

Have you tried reverse washing? Will you?

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  • Georgina

    I might give this reverse washing a go! I saw Kate post about it not too long ago and I was really intrigued by it.

    Where abouts did you get your Bumble and Bumble from? I can’t find it anywhere!

    • You can buy it from Mecca in Kirks but it’s quite expensive – otherwise, Escentual sells it and ships to NZ, but not the aerosols unfortunately :/

  • I’ve tried reverse washing but I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes for my hair to be honest. Really want to try some Bumble and Bumble products, but as you said they’re quite pricey – maybe one day :p

    Caitlin | Thistle & Tea

    • I had a few foil samples which were great because I wasn’t going to buy B&B at that price without trying it first! That way I found out that I LOVED the thickening shampoo, but hate the conditioner.

  • Kirsty/Kirk

    I’m going to try this tonight- I’m intrigued!! Thanks Sasspot xxx

  • I reverse wash and co-wash occasionally, depending on what my hair feels like. At the moment I haven’t had my hair cut for six months and the ends are a little sad, so I’ve been cowashing and normal washing more, but reverse washing is fantastic for when I want the volume in my flat Asian hair! Getting a cut and colour tomorrow though so might need to adjust things a bit.

    I actually found that the biggest difference was when I went sulfate-free (there are some supermarket conditioners that don’t contain sulfates, even in Garnier and the like) and silicone-free. The sulfate seems to simultaneously make my scalp dryer and more oily, if that makes any sense, and the silicone seems to weigh things down a lot more. Plus SLSs can be comedogenic so I’m trying to avoid them in hair and skin products.

    Teresa //

    • I don’t have the patience for going completely sulfate & silicone free – plus I have a bunch of products that don’t fit that bill, that I want to use up first, and it’s kind of a vicious cycle, haha. I also found that the L’Oreal Eversleek SLS-free range was TERRIBLE for my hair and it has kind of put me off!

      • I thought I was the only one! That Eversleek range turned my hair into straw. Weird that my cheapo $3 Garnier is better.

  • Sarah Lilly

    I’ve reverse washed my hair for quite sometime now and I love it. Conditioner seems to weigh my hair down if I use it last, so I find I really benefit from putting it in my hair first. I really want to try that Bumble and Bumble stuff – I’ve only heard good things! x

    Sarah Lilly || The Lilly Mint Blog

    • Sometimes I worry I’m just washing all the conditioner out if I use it first, but I’ve found the condition lengths/shampoo roots combo works well!

  • Nicole

    I haven’t, but I think you have convinced me to. My hair is long, so the less weighed down I can get it, obviously the better. The B&B shampoo sounds great too. x

    Nicole | Pocahontes

    • It’s definitely worth a go!

  • I heard about this before, haven’t tried it yet but I want to give it go and see if there’s a difference. Heard good things about Bumble and Bumble too, will have to try sometime. 😀

    Ashley |

    • Let me know how it goes!

  • Hannah Tait

    Trying tonight – Super excited and praying it might alleviate some of my current mass hair issues. Also B&B shampoo – worth it? My scalp is seriously not agreeing with my Matrix

    • Definitely worth it, although I wonder if you could go to Mecca and see if they’d do a sample for you? They’re so generous with cosmetics/skincare, so they might do it with haircare too!

  • Ooh, am intrigued. Will try it and report back! xx

  • madeleinesarah

    I started doing this and then found that sometimes it works better for me if I shampoo all of my hair first, then condition all of it (including roots), then shampoo just my parting/roots. Sounds a bit crazy when I write it out but it’s been working! If I shampoo all of my hair after conditioning it gets really knotty, but I do have fine + wavy hair that’s prone to knot easily..

  • Jackie Jean

    The Sunday shampoo is blimin top notch. I love it so much haha. If you can afford it, would definitely recommend! I only use it once a week and it lasts for ever because of that =) .. I think it would strip my colour too much if I was to use it every wash though!

  • Evita Rose

    Where do you get your bumble & bumble from, Mecca? I’m so interested to try this I wash my hair way too much as well!

    • I get it from Mecca when I need it urgently, otherwise I’ll throw it in when doing a Sephora order, or get it from!

  • Steph

    Omg I’m so trying this next time I wash my hair coz I’ve been experiencing a lot of icky conditioner buildup lately & coz I only wash my hair every 3 days or so it has already started driving me nuts by day 2! Haha I might need to shampoo first though coz I too use lots of dry shampoo 😛

  • punkdinosaur

    Great blog! I love your sense of humour. Thumbs up from Indonesia! 🙂