Buffering Shampoo with Conditioner – Bad or Good Idea?

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Vlogger Kimmaytube proposed a buffering method to combat the dry or rough feeling that you may get when you shampoo. The basic principle is that you wet and shampoo your hair as normal and then apply a small amount of conditioner to hair before rinsing off the shampoo completely. This method is designed to allow hair to feel moisturised and soft immediately after shampooing. Some naturals love this method while others cannot stand it, so, is the buffering method a good idea or a bad idea?

Short answer
Yes and no. Some very mild shampoos as well as some good cleansing clarifying shampoos will pose no problems but in general layering a conditioner over a shampoo can lead to build up (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 263-278,1993).

Long answer

1. Opposites attract – Shampoo and Conditioner have different charges.
Shampoo in general is negatively charged while conditioner is positively charged. If you can cast your mind back to your physics lessons, you may recall that opposites attract. Therefore if you wash your hair with the negatively charged shampoo and instead of rinsing it off, you apply a positively charged conditioner, you end up trapping a mix of shampoo and conditioner on your hair.

2. So what if you get a mix of shampoo and conditioner, you can rinse it off, right?
Actually wrong. Conditioner is designed to deposit a little bit on hair specifically targeting flaws such as cracks or holes in the cuticles. This temporarily repairs the hair, makes it soft and smoothes the cuticle down. However, the mixed up shampoo and conditioner is actually much more difficult to rinse off and unlike conditioner alone which targets flaws in the hair, it will pretty much form as build up all over the hair and scalp. This build up can sometimes be visible to the eye as white flakes on the scalp after rinsing (did you ever wonder what that was?)

3. How come it works for some naturals?
Science is a little more complicated than just negative shampoo will attract a positive conditioner to create build up. Some very mild shampoos have very little negative charge and some mild conditioners have very little positive charge which makes them able to be rinsed off without creating build up even if you do layer one on top of the other. Equally clarifying shampoos with a very strong negative charge wash off easily even when positive conditioner is layered on top.

4. How do I know if my shampoo and conditioner will mix to create build up or not?
It is truly an experiment, it may or it may not. You (or I) cannot tell from looking at the ingredients, it will be a case of trial and error.

5. Is there any other way to get rid of the dry, rough feel of the shampoo?
My best advice would be that you should not worry too much about the feel of your hair immediately after a shampoo. Shampoo does remove oil and does slightly lift the cuticle of hair creating a slightly rough and dry feeling. Hair conditioner is designed to fix that and it works best once you have rinsed off the shampoo completely. It is better able to bind, find and fix any flaws in your hair’s cuticle. By all means, do rush to apply a conditioner after rinsing shampoo from your hair and do avoid handling or combing your hair while it only has shampoo. Finally, do experiment, not all shampoos will give you a dry, rough feeling, although those that do may be good for when you want to clarify your hair, so make a note of them too.

Ladies, have you tried the buffering method? How did it work?

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20 thoughts on “Buffering Shampoo with Conditioner – Bad or Good Idea?

  1. I was doing this for a while and it was ok. I stopped because it wasnt mind blowing enough for me to keep doing it. I agree with two things you stated though, not worrying about that stripped feeling after shampooing and experimenting with diffrent shampoos until you find a good one. At the beginning of this year I went back to sulfate shampoo because even though I avoided silicone and such sulfate free shampoo didn’t remove all that it should of. Plus I think the reason why my hair reacted badly to sulfates was because I was washing too frequently on hair that wasn’t all that dirty. Now that I wash every two weeks sulfates don’t strip. Now if I decide to wash sooner say after 5 days due to working out I can use sulfate free shampoo easily with no buildup issues. So I ended up using both based on how how much product or activity ive done over a period of time.

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    • I totally agree with you. I have had my sierltsocks for almost 12 months. I stop using the sisterlock shampoo after 2 months. It did not clean my hair properly. I use Dr Bronner’s peppermint shampoo and Aveda rosemary mint and I have had no problems. I feel like as long as you band and braid and use shampoos with no oils or moisturizing agents, you will be fine.BTW, your locs look beautiful Samantha!

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  2. Some shampoos don’t give me that rough feeling but I mix my (sulfate) shampoo with oils, this has worked fine for me and cleans well (still need to condition though) so probably will not need to do this.

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  3. What? I have never of this! smh! When I was questioning the Co-Wash Methods I did do the Conditioner-shampoo-conditioner thingy. But not this!
    This is what works for me; water down your shampoo if it’s too strong. Kind of like when you wash your dishes. One doesn’t put dish washing liquid on every dish and spoon. You fill the sink up with soapy water right? Well I do! I am doing the same thing with my shampoo and it works just fine and it saves money and products.
    Just get a applicator bottle and put a tablespoon of shampoo and fill the rest with water! Cleaning your hair does not need to be so difficult.

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  4. I just mix oils with my shampoo then lather…helps alot. Pre-pooing did nothing for me and my hair felt weird when I did this conditioner buffering technique.

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  5. I detangle using a oil and then I put a mix of conditioner and shampoo together and it really does my hair right!!

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  6. I wouldn’t try this. I’d much rather pre-poo with an oil to so it can act as barrier against the shampoo.

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  7. If someone feels the need to add conditioner to their shampoo, then their shampoo is too strong for their hair and they should consider using a milder shampoo or a different brand. Shampoo has a specific purpose – to cleanse the hair; as does conditioner. Clarifying and sulfate shampoos should be used sparingly if someone has a problem with stripped hair after shampooing.

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  8. I remember seeing this video but it made no sense to me so this was one tip that I disregarded.

    What is the logic behind two in one shampoo/conditioners JC? Are they like cleansing conditioners?

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  9. what about 2in1 shampoos? I guess they will have the same effect. I would sometimes add a bit of conditioner and oil to my sulphate shampoo. Of course I use sulphate free or reduced sulphates so i don’t need to worry about this
    themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

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  10. Recently I’ve had extentions in my hairand after seeing wonderful reviews on this shampoo on the Brazilian hair I Istalled I decided to try it. While it worked wonderfully on that hair it didn’t do to well on my natural hair. My hair already doesn’t like shampoo, even sulfate free shampoo, it usually drys my hair out and this shampoo/slash conditioner has sulfate in it and it was even worse. I stopped using it immediately.

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