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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The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

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