It's gonna get sappy up in here.
In my lifetime quest to always have shiny, bouncy, fluffy hair, I've kissed a lot of frogs. I must have tried over 500 different shampoos, conditioners and tonics in my short lifetime. I also came this close to slapping down a fat wad of cash to take my follicles to a fancy trichologist like Abby Gardner did last fall.
But the thing that has made the biggest difference in my straggly, sticky, stringy blonde hair is also the simplest: water. I rinsed my hair with bottled water one day on a whim and was amazed by the difference. I then installed a special Aquasana filter in my shower and have been pleased with the results ever since.
Still, every so often I felt like my hair was somewhat less than it could be. Like it was weighed down, lifeless and dull. I have to wash my hair every single day without exception because my scalp is greasy and terrible -- yet my ends are dry as a bone. After one night of tossing and turning, my hair is super-dry and balls up into what resembles a Bozo fright wig.
A perfect solution to my crazy clown hair presented itself when I was randomly chatting with a reader (the lovely @nicholeaileen) who turned me on to something that sounded insane -- conditioning your hair before you wash it. At first I was like "Man, do we have some unhinged readers!" But then I thought about it for a minute and realized that washing your hair in reverse actually made perfect sense.
Part of my problem is that my hair is very fine -- and daily conditioning is really too heavy for it. But I can't skip the daily conditioning or else I'm left with a horrible, brittle mess. The theory with washing your hair in reverse is that you soften and get all the snarls out using your favorite conditioner first, let it sit for 5 minutes or so while you wash the rest of your body, then rinse thoroughly and shampoo lightly right before you jump out of the shower.
This results in just enough moisture being left in your hair to drag a brush through it easily without it being weighed down. I've been doing it for about a week now, and my hair looks better than it has in almost forever.
It really works for me, and it's obvious why. My scalp gets gross exactly 24 hours after my last washing -- no matter how many times I've slogged through weeks of only-every-three-days-washing-and-merely-rinsing-in-between in an attempt to get my hair used to not being shampooed as frequently. I'm an every single day hair washer for life. End of story.
But simply flipping the order I wash it in has been enlightening! I get the moisturizing benefits of conditioner (concentrated on my ends, with only a wisp slapped on my roots for shininess) but also the super-clean, weightless feeling of hair that's not weighed down by too much conditioner! It's the very best of both worlds.
I've found that the amount of moisture left in my hair after washing out the conditioner is sufficient to avoid snarls and tangles. It also helps that I use the very best detangling brush on earth to comb out my damp hair -- The "Wet" Brush.
The "Wet" Brush has special bristles that are thin, strong and flexible. It slides through my hair even when it's tangled without ripping out chunks and killing my scalp. I use it in tandem with a little bit of the It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner formulated specifically for blonde hair for zero tangles and absolutely no snarls. (All the It's a 10 products are actually pretty great -- but some of their other leave-in treatments are too heavy for my baby fine hair.)
I'll tell you what the other great thing about washing your hair backward is -- it flies in the face of what I was taught as a child, and I'm a lifetime contrarian. The phone in my new office has a big sign on it that emphatically states "Do NOT dial 9" and every time I see it, a little part of me wants to dial 9 as I laugh maniacally just to see what would happen. (It would result in certain nuclear doom for the entire world -- I'm sure of it.)
Alison Freer is the author of 'How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing.