Is there a Right Way to Wash Your Hair?

By Nicole Elizabeth Smith

Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to wash your hair. And how you shampoo and condition your hair will make all the difference in its health, shine, and overall condition.

When washing your hair, it is best to do so in the shower, as you won't be able to rinse properly in the sink. Start by rinsing your hair to remove any leave-in conditioner or styling products.

Use a quarter sized dollop of shampoo and rub your hands together to distribute it. Put the shampoo on your scalp, not the ends of your hair. Work the shampoo into a lather by massaging your scalp with your fingers. You may also use a scalp brush. Don't mix your hair all over your head; the more you do, the more tangled it will become.

You may notice that during the first shampoo, you won't have much lather. That means your hair is still dirty. Rinse well and repeat, but this time, let the shampoo sit for a minute (especially if you are using a protein shampoo). Rinse, then press the water out of your hair. Never squeeze or pull your hair when it's wet. Instead, smooth your hands from the top of your head down to remove excess water - an important step before adding any conditioner.

Shampooing and Rinsing: Hot water or cold?

Experts say you should wash your hair in hot or warm water to help remove dirt and build-up, and rinse in cool water to close the cuticle and add shine. However, the effects are barely noticeable.

Deep Conditioning

Conditioners penetrate better on towel dried hair so remove excess water first. Be gentle! To protect your hair, smooth your hands from the top of your head down to remove excess water. As your hair grows longer, gather your hair at the base of your neck with one hand, and once anchored, use the other hand to gently press the water out of the ends of your hair.

Next, use a generous amount (half-dollar size dollop or more for longer hair) to ensure your hair is completely covered. Concentrate on your hairline, nape, and the ends of your hair, where it's needed most. Massage well, but DO NOT COMB THROUGH; it's too damaging to your hair. Snap on a plastic cap and sit under a warm dryer for 10 minutes. Rinse well and follow with an instant conditioner.

Nicole Elizabeth Smith, the author of "Healthy Black Hair" (2003), is a freelance health and beauty writer and a graduate of Michigan State University. She and her son Zack live in Michigan. Currently, she is beauty editor for

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