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Industry • Best Practice

You Put WHAT in Your Hair? The Truth Behind DIY Hair Treatments

When it comes to hair care, trust your stylists — not the internet.

Show of hands: How many of you have skipped the salon in favor of a DIY hair treatment? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There’s no shortage of at-home haircare suggestions on social media and beauty blogs, but just because it comes from your favorite influencer doesn’t mean it’s good advice.

The truth is, while some DIY treatments can be effective, they don’t always deliver the intended results. We’ve rounded up three of the biggest DIY hair trends in order to take a closer look at which ones actually work — and when to avoid at all costs.

Reverse washing has its benefits — but only for certain hair types

Reverse washing is exactly what it sounds like: Instead of using the tried-and-true “shampoo, then conditioner” order for washing hair, you instead start with conditioner and finish with shampoo. According to fans of reverse washing, using conditioner first will better help your hair absorb its benefits, and finishing with shampoo can make hair look thicker and more hydrated.

So is there any truth to this? There might be, but it’s definitely not for everyone. According to dermatologist Purvisha Patel, those with very fine hair, oily hair, or natural hair types could benefit from the boost of hydration reverse washing provides. As for looking fuller, dermatologist Craig Ziering says that this is “purely a cosmetic effect” that doesn’t address the root cause that’s causing your locks to fall flat. So while there’s probably little harm in trying this DIY trend, don’t expect it to solve all of your hair woes.

DIY hair masks can do more harm than good

Hair masks are a small but satisfying way to practice self-care, but you should definitely do your research before mixing up your own. Some of the commonly suggested ingredients in DIY hair masks, which are often common household items like avocados and apple cider vinegar, can cause allergic reactions and do some serious damage to your scalp. “People are literally burning their scalp with apple cider vinegar,” says dermatologist Dr. Kiran Sethi.

Even if the ingredients you’re using are harmless, not every DIY hair treatment is meant for every kind of hair. A mask that makes your bestie’s hair shiny and bouncy could make your own strands difficult to manage. Be extremely wary about what you put in your hair and make sure you understand what each ingredient’s purpose is in order to determine if it’s really what you need.

The 90s called, they want their lemon juice back

Trends are cyclical, and with the 90s back in a big way right now, it’s not entirely surprising that DIY beauty aficionados are turning to this tried-and-true method for lightening hair. Does it actually work? Like the other treatments on this list, it can, but rarely delivers the intended results — and could actually do harm instead.

Yes, spraying lemon juice on your locks and basking in sunlight for a couple of hours can have a lightening effect, but it’s just about impossible to control what that actually looks like. If your hair is already naturally light, you’ll probably notice more of a difference than those with dark hair. Trichologist Sally-Ann Tarver calls the results “very minor” and says “lemon juice works best as a natural highlighter… for people with blond and dark blonde hair.” And let’s not forget that lemon juice is acidic, which can really do a number on your scalp. You’re better off just splurging for highlights.

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