Should You Condition Your Hair Before Shampooing?

Hair experts dispel the myth about co-washing.

There has been some question lately as to whether you should actually condition your hair before you shampoo it. Most of us wash our hair with shampoo and then condition -- you can't go wrong the traditional "lather, rinse, repeat" route, especially if your hair is dirty or greasy, right? But the argument for co-washing (the term used to cleanse with conditioner) is pretty strong, as it leaves your locks much more hydrated and healthy-looking.

In need of serious guidance, we turned to three hair experts to set the record straight about shampoo and conditioner, and how exactly to use these products. Here's what we learned.

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Celebrity groomer Losi believes that it is not better to simply condition hair. "The conditioner closes the cuticles of the hair shaft," she says. Not to mention, common ingredients found in conditioners like silicone or paraffin coat the hair and can create build-up.

If your hair is very dry or overly processed from chemicals or dye, London-based colorist Daniel Galvin, Jr. recommends using a mask made with argan oil, vitamins C and E and proteins a few hours before shampooing to smooth the cuticle and repair hair fibers. But you still have to shampoo it out.

Another alternative that Galvin offers at his salon is to use steam to repair the hair from the inside out. "The reason I would say it is best to do before shampooing is that the [steam] treatment is not too heavy for the hair and does not weigh it down as [conditioner] would do for fine, soft hair," he says.

If your hair tends to be more on the oily side, Christina Mattes of Antonio Prieto Salon in New York City suggests applying a deep-penetrating conditioner or mask to the ends only to keep the hair fuller when dry. "When in the shower, wet hair and apply a nickel to quarter size (depending on the amount of hair you have) to mid-lengths and ends," she says. "Use a wide-tooth comb to distribute evenly, leave on for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse."

Follow up with a shampoo and leave-in treatment after conditioning, but Mattes warns not to do so in an "overly aggressive manner." She explains, "Remember, you want to treat your hair with care, especially if it's damaged and you are in repair mode." And be sure to keep the shampoo and conditioner in that order when washing your hair, as Mattes believes you'll get the best results from the products by doing so.

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