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Do you wash your hair before you detox it?

Before starting a hair detox, it’s important to consider whether you need to wash your hair first. Detoxifying your hair and scalp aims to remove buildup from products, pollution, hard water minerals, and more. Washing your hair beforehand helps ensure you start with the cleanest slate possible before using clarifying or detox shampoos and treatments. Here’s a quick look at the main considerations around washing hair before a detox:

Why detox hair?

Detoxifying your hair and scalp has become popular for several reasons:

– Removes product buildup – Using lots of hair products can cause buildup over time. Detoxing helps remove this residue.

– Clears away impurities – Things like pollution, minerals, and metals can accumulate on hair and scalp. A detox helps clear these away.

– Resets hair – Getting rid of buildup allows hair to reset to its healthiest baseline.

– Improves scalp health – Buildup and impurities can negatively impact the scalp. Detoxing leads to a cleaner, healthier scalp environment.

– Boosts shine – Product buildup can make hair look dull. Removing it restores radiance and shine.

Should you wash hair before detoxing?

The main reason to wash your hair before a detox is to ensure you’re starting with the cleanest slate possible. Any dirt, oil, or product residue present before detoxing can impact how effective the clarifying shampoo or treatment will be.

However, there are a few exceptions where you may want to detox first, then follow up with a regular shampoo:

– If you have extremely damaged or overprocessed hair, a harsh wash beforehand could worsen damage. In this case, it’s fine to go straight to the detox step.

– Some detox shampoos contain surfactants that allow them to cleanse hair adequately without a pre-wash. However, these formulas can be quite drying.

– Occasionally detoxing without washing first can provide an extra deep clean for those with significant buildup issues.

So in most cases, washing with a basic shampoo before detoxing is recommended. But it also depends on your hair’s current condition and needs.

How to Wash Hair Before Detoxing

Here are some tips on the best practices for washing your hair prior to a detox:

Use a clarifying shampoo

For the pre-wash, using a clarifying shampoo is recommended. These are formulated to deep clean, removing buildup without stripping away too much natural oil.

Look for clarifying shampoos containing surfactants like:

– Sodium laureth sulfate
– Sodium lauryl sulfate
– Ammonium lauryl sulfate

Avoid ingredients like silicones, waxes, mineral oil, and petrolatum as these can leave residue.

Massage shampoo into scalp

When washing beforehand, take time to massage the clarifying shampoo into your scalp. This helps it penetrate and loosen up buildup before detoxing.

Focus on areas prone to accumulate residue:

– Hairline
– Nape of neck
– Crown
– Behind ears

Use your fingertips to massage in small circular motions.

Rinse thoroughly

After massaging and washing with clarifying shampoo, rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly. This prevents leaving behind any residual shampoo before detoxing.

Run water through your hair for at least 30 seconds up to a full minute to ensure no product remains.

Finish with a cool water rinse to close cuticles.

Repeat if needed

For very congested scalps, repeat the clarifying wash process 1-2 more times. This helps completely clear away buildup, setting up the detox to work most effectively.

Just be careful not to over-wash to the point of stripping your hair’s natural oils.

Don’t condition before detox

It’s important not to apply any conditioner before a detox. Conditioner can lead to barrier buildup on the hair that prevents a detox from penetrating optimally.

You can certainly use a conditioner after rinsing out a detox treatment. Just avoid conditioning before.

How Often to Wash Hair Before Detox

How often you need to wash your hair before a detox depends on several factors:

Your current hair washing schedule

– If you wash your hair infrequently or rarely, a pre-wash is extra important to reset your scalp and hair.

– For those who already wash hair multiple times a week, an extra wash before detoxing may not be as necessary.

How much product you use

– Using lots of heavy styling products like gels, mousse, or pomades means more frequent washings.

– If you mainly stick to light leave-in sprays or oils, you may not need to wash as often.

Your hair and scalp type

– Oily scalps and hair may need more frequent washings to prevent buildup.

– For drier hair, washing too often can cause damage and stripping.

– Coarse, curly hair is more prone to buildup that requires pre-washing.

– Fine, straight hair often needs less washing and harsh surfactants can cause issues.

Environmental factors

– Exposure to pollution, hard water, chlorine, and salt/sun can increase the need for pre-washing.

– Living in a less harsh environment you may not need to wash as frequently.

As a general rule, wash with a clarifying shampoo 1-2 times during the week leading up to a detox for best results. Listen to what your scalp and hair needs.

Detoxing After Washing

Once you’ve washed your hair prior to a detox, follow these tips for the detox process:

Choose your detox

Some top options include:

Detox Ingredient How It Works
Bentonite clay Adsorbs buildup, heav metals, impurities
Apple cider vinegar Removes residue, balances pH
Sodium sulfate Strong surfactant to deep cleanse
Charcoal Absorbs and draws out impurities

Look for a formula suited to your hair’s needs. Masks, shampoos, and scrubs can all effectively detox.

Apply thoroughly

Distribute the detox product evenly throughout your hair and scalp. Focus on massaging it into areas prone to buildup.

For masks, cover hair completely and allow to penetrate for the recommended time.

Rinse clean

Rinse detox treatments out thoroughly with lukewarm water. Harsher hot water can damage hair.

Run water through hair for 1-2 minutes to remove all traces of the detoxifier and loosened buildup.


Follow up your detox with a hydrating conditioner or hair mask to restore moisture.

Focus conditioner on the hair lengths and avoid putting directly on the scalp.

Style as usual

After conditioning, style your hair as you normally would. Use lighter leave-in products and heat protectants if using hot tools.

Avoid heavy styling products at first that could lead to quick buildup again.

Benefits of Washing Before Detoxing

Some of the benefits that washing your hair prior to a detox can provide include:

Enhances effectiveness

Washing away dirt, oil, and product residue before detoxing allows the ingredients to work better. You’ll improve the detox results.

Prevents damage

Having clean hair means the detox doesn’t have to work as hard to cleanse. This is gentler and prevents excessive drying.

Quickly resets hair

Combining a clarifying wash with a detox provides a deeper reset. Your hair will look and feel cleaner in one go.

Better scalp health

Giving your scalp a fresh start improves its ability to function and remain balanced after the detox.

Longer lasting results

Pre-shampooing helps the detox results last longer by fully removing buildup that could quickly re-congest hair.

Better absorption

Natural oils can prevent detoxifying ingredients from fully penetrating the hair shaft. Washing first allows better absorption.

Reduced need to detox

Thoroughly washing and then detoxing helps extend the time between needing clarifying treatments.

Potential Issues to Avoid

While washing before a detox has benefits, be aware of a few potential problems:

Can worsen damage

Frequently washing with harsh shampoos could aggravate already dry, damaged hair. Use a gentle clarifying shampoo.

May dry out hair

Too much washing and detoxing can strip the hair. Be sure to use a moisturizing conditioner after and avoid over-washing.

Can cause scalp irritation

Washing and detoxing too often can disturb the scalp’s moisture barrier and pH. Spread out treatments and monitor scalp health.

Hair may feel stiff

Clarifying shampoos contain ingredients that remove buildup but can leave hair feeling stiff or crunchy. Use conditioner to counteract.

Temporary increased oil production

Frequently stripping hair’s oils can disrupt the scalp and trigger increased oil production at first. This usually stabilizes.

Takes more time

Having to wash your hair twice—before and after a detox—extends the process and time commitment required.

The Takeaway

Detoxifying your hair can provide great benefits and revive hair’s natural beauty. Washing with a clarifying shampoo before detoxing helps create the ideal foundation so the treatment can work optimally. Listen to your hair’s needs, don’t overdo harsh washing, and pair detoxing with moisture restoring conditioner. Your hair will look refreshed, healthy, and shine like new.