What Is The Difference Between Shampoo And Conditioner?


When you clean your hair on any given day, you are going to use shampoo and conditioner so that not only do you have clean hair, but you have soft, shiny, and moisturized hair too. However, sometimes you only use shampoo to clean your hair and don’t bother with the conditioner. That is because even though your hair becomes clean, it may lack some of the softness that comes with clean hair. However, some people don’t care about that, so they stick to using shampoo only. That right there tells you that there is a significant difference between shampoo and conditioner. They are not the same thing, and let’s delve into that a little more.

How Is Shampoo Different From Conditioner?

The reason that shampoo and conditioner are different is that they are not the same thing. Shampoo cleans your hair, and that is because it is a cleansing agent. The main ingredients in shampoo are detergents and surfactants, and those components remove pollutants, sweat, dirt, sebum, and other unhelpful elements. On the other hand, conditioners do not contain those ingredients as they are not cleaning agents. Instead, the composition of conditioners is of proteins, botanical extracts, and natural oils, which causes the hair to develop a shiny and smooth feel. In addition, conditioners protect your hair by leaving a thin film on it after you rinse your hair. Therefore, you need to use shampoo to clean your hair and conditioner to beautify it.

Some groups of people do not use shampoo, and many use cleansing conditioners instead. Cleansing conditioners have some detergent-like elements in them, unlike traditional conditioners, which is why they can clean your hair. However, they are not as effective as shampoo in most cases. It is not advisable to shampoo your hair daily even if you have oily hair because the detergents can work too well by stripping away too much sebum, which will leave your hair dry, flaky, and frizzy even if you use conditioner. However, if you shampoo your hair a few times a week, you are not stripping as much of the oils, which is why it is advisable to wash your hair a few times a week – or at least once a week. If you use conditioner a few times a week, you wash your hair, which will help lock in the moisture and keep your hair soft and smooth.

However, is washing your hair before applying conditioner the only way to do it? There is a new way that people wash their hair, and that is by using conditioner before using shampoo. That is known as pre-wash conditioning or reverse shampooing. Does it work? Let’s look into that further.

Is Using Conditioner Before Washing Your Hair With Shampoo More Effective?

If you plan to utilize the pre-washing or reverse conditioning technique, that is up to you, but there isn’t any data that shows that this way to wash your hair is more effective than using shampoo before your conditioner. The only times when it may benefit you to use conditioner before shampoo is if you feel your hair is limp, oily, or heavy. You may find that the case if you have oily hair since conditioner does leave a light film on it after you wash your hair. In that case, it may be a good idea to condition your hair first and then to shampoo it after. It will cleanse the film from the conditioner, but it can also provide the nourishment that your hair needs.

If you plan to clean your hair by using this method, you need to put the conditioner in your hair, massage it into your hair, and ensure you are covering the tips. Allow it to stay in for a few minutes, and then don’t wash out the conditioner immediately. Instead, what you want to do is to put the shampoo on your hair and lather it up. After giving it a good lather, you can rinse your hair and remove the shampoo and conditioner.

The benefit you will reap by washing your hair this way is that the conditioner will act as a primer before you wash your hair. It also helps even distribution of the shampoo across your hair. In addition, you’ll receive protection from the conditioner, and the shampoo will not remove all of the sebum – and will only strip excess oils along with the dirt. However, hairstylists don’t recommend that you do that regularly, and they suggest that you do reverse conditioning once a week. You should wash your hair the traditional way otherwise. Those who can benefit from reverse washing once in a while have either dry or oily fine hair or damaged hair.

Let’s go back to those who skip shampoo altogether and talk about that a little more. First, some people use cleansing conditioners or only conditioners, and that is known as co-washing.

Is Co-Washing A Good Idea?

Those who feel strongly against using shampoo because they think it dries and damages their hair only use conditioner whether it is cleansing or not. However, the one thing to realize by utilizing this technique is that it will not clean your hair adequately and cause the buildup of products. Therefore, if you insist on washing your hair this way, the best thing to do is avoid using silicone products because that is the element that can cause your hair to feel oily, dull, and limp. However, you have to realize that you need to wash other elements from your hair, such as excess sebum and dirt, and you will want to use a clarifying shampoo once every two weeks.


Shampoos and conditioners are not the same type of product as shampoos containing detergents and surfactants, which means they are cleaning agents. Instead, conditioners are the products that leave your hair soft, smooth, and shiny because they have natural oils and other nourishing components to make your hair that way. Those who have oily and fine hair often find that their hair becomes limp after using conditioner. Therefore, they can occasionally try reverse washing which means they use conditioner before shampooing their hair to help minimize that. Some people prefer only to use conditioner to clean their hair. However, because conditioner is not a cleaning agent, they will have to use clarifying shampoo‘ twice a week to cleanse their hair correctly.