Considering the amount of damage that summer inflicts on our hair (looking at you, sun, sweat, and salt), it’s hardly a surprise that the Internet has been abuzz lately with viral hacks that promise to make strands softer/shinier/healthier. One that recently caught our eye was shared by Bachelor alum Ashley Spivey, who swears that washing your hair upside down is the key to deeper cleans, better volume, and more time in between washes.
“When I shampoo in the shower, I divide my hair into an upper half and a lower half,” she shared in a recent Instagram post. “I apply enough shampoo for those areas and then add a little more water and flip my head over so I make sure I’m really getting underneath my hair well enough.”
“Then I flip back over and use a scalp massager all over to make sure my scalp is squeaky clean… Then I rinse — make sure you rinse out the underneath well enough—flip your hair over if you need to. Sometimes I will double shampoo if I feel like my hair needs it.”Post-shampoo, Spivey uses the same head-flipping movement to apply conditioner to the mids and ends of her hair. She only uses silk scrunchies to maintain her curls and to put her hair in a top knot during a shower. Oh, and she sleeps on two (very glam) silk pillowcases to diminish frizz in between washes.
So, does Spivey’s shampoo routine get a rose from our trusted hair stylists, or will it face elimination and live on as yet another failed Internet beauty trend? (… see what I did there?) Turns out, there may actually be some legitimate reasons to flip your routine on its literal head and try the trick out for yourself.
What the pros have to say
According to Jamie Wiley, the artistic director for haircare brand Pureology, upside-down hair washing is effective because it allows you to shampoo your hair from different angles. “An oily scalp can be caused by not properly emulsifying and applying to the entire scalp area,” she says. Skipping over specific areas of the head due to thickness or coarseness will result in an inadequate scalp cleanse, which will leave oil and buildup on your scalp even after you think you’ve shampooed it away.
“The back of the head is usually the area people rush through, and they tend to focus on the top—but the majority of our hair is at the back of the head,” says Aaron Barry, a celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist, adding that this results in an oily scalp that can lead to loss of volume, wet dandruff, and scalp buildup. Flipping your hair makes it easier to hit those oft-ignored areas, which need just as much attention as the top of your head in order to get a truly deep clean.
Adding a scalp massager into the mix, the way Spivey does, helps takes that deep clean to the next level. “A scalp massager will be great for exfoliating the scalp and stimulating the follicle to promote new hair growth,” says Barry. “If you have a sensitive scalp and need a scalp exfoliation, I would opt for Alterna’s My Hair My Canvas New Beginnings Exfoliating Cleanser. Massage with your fingertips, not your nails, and be firm [with your pressure].”
Though this method can be particularly helpful for anyone with coarse, thick hair (these textures make it more difficult to hit the hidden parts of your scalp when you shampoo), the pros say anyone can benefit from flipping their routine on it (literal) head. “This application technique is great for all hair types,” says Wiley. “However, it works best for higher textures of hair (3a-4c) as the density of the curls to coils need more separation and massaging into the scalp.”
As with practically anything in the beauty world, there are always risks to trying out a new technique for the first time. “For wavy, curly, and coily hair types, be gentle with a scalp massager and go section by section using your fingers to separate the hair,” says Wiley. “If you have one of these hair types, you’ll want to avoid vigorous circular motions that can create knots and lock up the hair.”
To remedy this, Barry recommends brushing out any tangles while in the shower with a Tangle Teaser ($15). “This is a great tool to comb the conditioner through the mid-lengths and ends of hair while in the shower, and it will aid you in avoiding knots if tangling occurs during this upside-down washing technique.”
“As a disclaimer, please always be careful when doing Cirque du Soleil style head flips in the shower,” says Barry. Invest in a great non-slip bathmat, and leave any wild hair flips on the dancefloor.
What happened when we tried it
Based on the pros’ glowing reviews of the upside-down hair washing method, Well+Good’s senior beauty editor Zoë Weiner decided to try it out on her own 3b curls.
“This might sound gross, but I never realized how dirty my scalp actually was until I washed my hair upside down,” she says. “Flipping my head over allowed me to scrub parts of my scalp that had definitely never seen shampoo—especially the nape, which sees more sweat and grime than anywhere else on my body. It also allowed me to really concentrate the product on the top of my head and avoid the lengths, which tend to get in the way during normal washes and get super dry and damaged-looking when I use too much shampoo on them. Plus, I could use my scalp massager without creating any knotty tangles.
As for conditioner, “Applying it upside down meant that I could really focus on my ends and lengths without greasing up my scalp,” says Weiner. “The entire process left me with a super-clean scalp and some serious va-va-voom volume, and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever go back to washing the regular way.”
One pro tip she shared? “Wet your hair right-side up and wait to flip your head until you’re nice and drenched,” she says. “Otherwise, water up the nose is pretty much guaranteed. Just trust me on this one.”