Can You Mix Shampoo With Conditioner?

We all want to look good, and want to take great care of our hair. However, it’s not always easy to take some time out of our busy daily routine to do hair care as we want to save time as well. 

That’s why many choose to mix the shampoo with conditioner with the hope to achieve perfect hair in less time.

While this seems like a good idea because it saves a lot more time than using the products one at a time, are you sure it’s good for your hair? Can you mix shampoo with conditioner? Read on to find the correct answer. 

Can you mix shampoo with conditioner?
Can you mix shampoo with conditioner?

Can You Mix Shampoo With a Conditioner?

The short answer is no. You can’t and should not mix the shampoo with conditioner because they are made differently and aimed at different purposes.

A shampoo is a cleansing agent, containing ingredients like surfactants and detergents. It removes dirt, oil, sweat, product buildup, as well as environmental pollutants from your hair. 

Meanwhile, ingredients in hair conditioner are natural oils, botanical extracts, and proteins, meant to keep your hair smooth, shiny, and soft. 

Hair conditioners are emulsifiers with an acidic trait, aimed to help hair regain its acidity after applying shampoo so it can retain moisture and hydration.

If you mix the shampoo with conditioner, they won’t likely work to their full potential. As a result, you won’t get the best result from either shampoo or conditioner.

Firstly, the hair conditioner prevents the lathering process. Secondly, the shampoo will emulsify the fat and oil in the conditioner instead of those on the hair only, which cancels the benefits of the conditioner.

As a result, your hair won’t have enough acidity to obtain the hydrated state like when using shampoo and conditioner individually. 

What Happens When Mixing Shampoo With a Conditioner?

Naturally, hair has a negative charge. The shampoo is negatively charged to remove dirt, excessive oil, and the positive charge sticking to the hair.

On the other hand, a hair conditioner is positively charged. When used after the shampoo, the conditioner’s molecules, or cationic surfactants, are attracted to the negatively charged hair. This way, a conditioner is not washed away completely by rinsing with water.

With that in mind, when you mix the negatively-charged shampoo with the positively-charged conditioner, the negative charge will eliminate the positive charge, the conditioner in this case. 

What it means is that by mixing the two products, you make shampoo and conditioner trapped in a mixture. At the same time, as the shampoo does its cleansing job on your hair, it will also take away the molecules in the conditioner.

Mixing a shampoo with a hair conditioner can cause buildup
Mixing a shampoo with a hair conditioner can cause buildup

The Difference Between Mixing Shampoo With Conditioner And 2-in-1 Shampoo

Despite the fact that you can’t mix the shampoo with conditioner, there are products called 2-in-1 shampoos. So what’s the deal with this type of shampoo? How does it differ from a shampoo-conditioner mixture?

A 2-in-1 shampoo is basically a regular shampoo with added ingredients that offer users the benefits they often get from conditioners. A 2-in-1 shampoo is not made by mixing shampoo and conditioner, it’s a completely different product. 

This type of shampoo leaves moisture on your hair after use. However, it’s not as good as using a separate hair conditioner.

How To Use Shampoo And Conditioner Properly

People with normal hair

In most cases, it makes sense to use shampoo before using conditioner.

Firstly, it strips your hair of dirt, debris, oil, and pollutants so it can absorb hair care products. Also, it has cleansing ingredients that may leave your hair dry, rough, and frizzy, which is also why shampoo should be followed by a hair conditioner. 

Therefore, the general rule is to cleanse your hair with shampoo and then apply conditioner. You can refer to this step-by-step instruction for the best result. 

  1. Saturate your hair with warm water. Don’t use hot water. Also, avoid cold water because it won’t open up the cuticle as well as warm water.
  2. Apply a small amount of shampoo to your hair and start massaging until it lathers.
  3. Also, massage the scalp, and make sure the lather covers your scalp and hair. 
  4. Rinse your hair and scalp with clean water.
  5. Apply a small amount of hair conditioner to your head and massage it to the length of your hair, but not the scalp.
  6. Leave it for three minutes then rinse your hair with cold water to seal the cuticles.
  7. Towel dry your hair. 
Massage your hair with hair conditioner
Massage your hair with hair conditioner

People with dry, damaged hair

Apart from the conventional method, there is also reverse hair washing. It means using the hair conditioner before shampoo, while co-washing means using only the hair conditioner and skipping the shampoo. 

Reverse hair washing is beneficial for those with dry, damaged hair, and those whose hair is weighed down, greasy, for flat after conditioning. It is also known as pre-wash conditioning. 

  1. Damp your hair with warm water. Apply conditioner and massage it into the hair. Leave it for a few minutes. 
  2. Apply shampoo to your hair and massage to create a lather. 
  3. Rinse your hair with cold water to wash off both shampoo and hair conditioner. 

It’s worth noting that while this method benefits dry hair, you should practice it once a week only. Using a shampoo after hair conditioner may leave you with dry hair ends, so you should not use this method every day. 

Final Thoughts

Can you mix shampoo with conditioner? The short answer is no. Mixing them together and applying them to your hair can result in product buildup. Also, you won’t get the best result from shampoo or hair conditioner.

Instead of mixing these products, you should use them separately as usual to benefit from both the cleansing effect of the shampoo and the hydrating effect of the hair conditioner.

If you have dry hair, you can try reverse washing by using the conditioner before the shampoo. Performing this method once a week can help make your hair healthier and look denser.


I am Jessica Coles, a hairstyling and trends expert who also holds a master's degree in cosmetology. I am one of the leading hair care experts who has been offering support round the clock.

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