Nothing beats that salon-fresh hair: squeaky clean yet wonderfully bouncy, voluminous, and oh, so shiny. If only there was a way to replicate it at home… Turns out, there is – we’ve just been washing our hair incorrectly!
Ask any frank hairdresser whether their clients wash their hair properly, and they will tell you that most, in fact, do not. Many people make at least one mistake every time they shampoo their hair: some don’t scrub their scalp enough, others shampoo their entire hair length, still others don’t rinse well enough. The good news is, you can learn to wash your hair properly in a matter of a few minutes, and no, you won’t need to spend an extra hour in the shower or use expensive hair products; with just a few tweaks to your regular hair-washing routine, you can achieve that salon-fresh bouncy hair. On to the hair wash tips!
Brush Your Hair First
Before you shower, make sure you brush your hair thoroughly and entirely. This will prevent knotting when you shampoo and condition your hair and will reduce breakage. Remember, the hair is in its most fragile state when wet, so you want to avoid knots and tangles as much as possible in this stage. Use a good-quality hair brush, one that doesn’t pull on your hair but instead glides thought it.
Additionally, brushing out your hair before showering will make combing it out when you’re done that much easier. And as a bonus, you’ll get less hair in your drain.
Let Your Hair Get Fully Wet
Before you shampoo your hair, wet it thoroughly – every strand of your hair should be sopping wet before your shampoo even touches your scalp. Thankfully, this doesn’t take a long time; about a minute is all you need to get your hair fully wet. However, if you have extremely coarse, curly, dense hair, it’s more than likely that it will take longer. How do you know if your locks are fully and thoroughly soaked? Run your fingers through your entire hair, paying special attention to the scalp, and check if there are any dry patches left.
Also, it’s best to start with lukewarm water. Unlike cold water, a stream of nice and warm water will help open up your cuticles and expand your pores, so that the shampoo can penetrate deeper and thoroughly remove oil and dirt from your scalp.
Shampoo Your Roots, Twice
If you really want to get that squeaky clean, bouncy look and feel, make sure you shampoo twice, but only your roots. The first shampoo helps unclog your pores and further open up your cuticles, removing dirt and product residue. But the second round is where the real magic lies – once the excess oil and dirt have been removed, your scalp is ready to be thoroughly cleaned. The result will be not only a wonderfully clean scalp, but shiny, glossy strands as well.
This all being said, you don’t want to use a ton of shampoo – about a walnut-sized dollop is plenty. Bear in mind that the first shampoo won’t lather very much; that’s okay as the first round is there to break up the sebum and remove dirt. Also, there’s no need to shampoo your entire hair length as this will only dry it out – instead, focus on the scalp.
Gently Scrub and Massage Your Scalp
Now, this is arguably the most important part of proper hair washing, and coincidentally, the part that most people do wrong. If you’re wondering how to shampoo hair the correct way, read on.
After you’ve poured a nice glob of shampoo into your palm, you want to scrub it thoroughly but gently all over your scalp. Start by massaging your temples in small circles and slowly work your way to the top. Next, switch to the harder-to-reach areas, meaning the back of your ears and nape of your neck, paying them special attention; these areas are usually overlooked but tend to collect the most oil and pollution. Remember to thoroughly scrub and wash your scalp – you really want to work the shampoo into your skin and roots. Be careful not to dig your nails into the scalp though as this can damage your skin; instead, use your fingertips.
A good scalp wash should last between three and four minutes so take your time here.
Rinse Your Hair Thoroughly
After your first shampoo, you want to rinse your hair thoroughly. For fine and thinner hair types, a quick 15-20 seconds rinse should do it, but for denser, curlier hair types, a good minute of rinsing might be necessary.
While rinsing the hair after the first shampoo is important, rinsing well after the second is essential. It’s not uncommon to have shampoo build-up, especially if you use a formula with silicones, so you really want to dedicate at least a full minute (the longer the better) to rinsing your hair after the second shampoo.
Apply Conditioner to Your Ends
After you’ve rinsed your scalp, it’s time to condition your mane. If you’ve been applying conditioner on the entire length of your hair, including your scalp, it’s time to stop doing that and learn how to condition hair the right way.
The key to a productive hair conditioning routine is applying it only to the bottom two-thirds of your hair, and not letting it touch your roots. That last part – not applying your conditioner to your roots – is particularly important because failing to do so can lead to serious product buildup over time, making your hair limp and flat, and your scalp angry and inflamed. So, remove excess water from your hair (no need to use a towel for this), and apply a small amount of conditioner – a walnut-sized dollop again – to the bottom two-thirds of your locks, paying special attention to ends. If you have time, leave the conditioner to work its magic for about 5 minutes or so, and then rinse thoroughly again.
Rinse Again with Cool Water
Once your conditioner has done its job, it’s time to rinse it. At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that warm water helps open up your cuticles so that the shampoo can penetrate better, which is why we recommend wetting your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water before you go in with the shampoo. Well now, we’re aiming for the opposite – cool water to close and smooth down the cuticle and seal the moisture in each strand.
A quick 20-30 minute rinse should suffice.
Towel Dry Your Hair
Finally, towel dry your hair. We recommend investing in a good-quality microfiber towel as it’s super-gentle on the hair yet excellent at absorbing moisture. To avoid breakage and frizz, do not rub your hair with a towel – instead, gently pat it to blot-dry your hair. Then, use a wide-spaced comb to detangle your hair and your favorite leave-in conditioner and/or a nice oil serum.
If you have the time, leave your hair to air dry for about 20 minutes or so, and then, using a good-quality blow dryer and a round brush (alternatively you can use a hot air brush), dry it by aiming the dryer downwards as much as possible. Finish with a blast of cool air.