The Surprising Reason Your Hair Doesn't Look as Good as It Could

After years of thinking my hair was just eh, I came across a beauty secret that changed everything. Now, I get compliments on my curly blonde locks daily, and it’s all because of this super-easy, intuitive trick I learned at the hair salon. Just as important as the shampoo you use, the products you apply post-shower, and the way you style your hair, your shampooing technique is paramount.

I get it. You’re thinking, What are you possibly talking about? And I agree it sounds insane. But I promise to make everything clear.

I started using sulfate-free shampoo a while back because it’s less drying and ultimately a better fit for my curly hair. But the one seemingly universal problem is that it’s not nearly as gratifying as its super-sudsy counterpart. There’s just something strange about cleansing your hair without a lather.

The answer? Shampoo twice. Yes, I’m talking immediately after your first shampoo, follow up with another one. (Our U.S. editorial director, Faith, had the same breakthrough.) When your shampoo is sulfate-free, you’ll notice the first go-round doesn’t yield very much of, well, anything. But what’s actually happening is the product is effectively breaking down and cleaning out all the buildup and oil that was sitting on your scalp. That means it’s washing away all the dry shampoo, styling products, and dirt that’s been sitting there since your last shower. When you go back in and shampoo again, this time the formula will be able to actually do what it claims—whether that’s clarify, moisturize, volumize, etc.

Think of it like this: You have to remove your makeup before you cleanse your face; otherwise there’s a barrier between your skin and ingredients that make up your face wash. It’ll spend its time breaking down your makeup rather than properly anti-ageing, exfoliating or brightening. The same goes with your shampoo.

Halli Bivona of the John Barrett Salon agrees: “I find that a double shampoo actually makes blowouts last longer, because after two shampoos, your scalp is actually clean. So, it takes a few extra days for the oil to show up again.” She continues, “At this point, the shampoo is working to break up the buildup and oil. But with a second wash, it doesn’t have to break through so much grime and can get a proper lather going. That way, the ingredients really work.”

But, as always, there can be too much of a good thing. “You don’t want to dry out your hair,” Bivona recommends. When doing a double shampoo, you definitely want to use a really moisturizing conditioner on the ends; otherwise it’ll cause your hair to feel crunchy. This will make it static-y once it dries.”

So, never fret. If you’ve been unhappy with your hair, this could very well be the issue. Now go take a shower and find out! I’ll be waiting here for your comments.

Below, pick from our favourite sulfate-free shampoos (perfect for a double wash).