I Tried Split Hair Washing for a Clean Scalp and Smooth Hair

I Tried Split Hair Washing for a Clean Scalp and Smooth Hair
At the risk of making the understatement of the century, there’s no shortage of hair-washing hacks to be found on TikTok. Content creators sing the praises of everything from rinsing with rice water to shampooing upside down to using conditioner before shampoo. The latest suds-ing sensation everyone’s talking about? Split hair washing, which is exactly what it sounds like: Splitting your hair into sections and individually shampooing each one.

Unlike lots of other TikTok beauty trends which aren’t entirely legit and can even be downright dangerous (ahem, sunscreen contouring), there are real benefits to split hair washing. Washing your hair all at once (the way most of us do) by slapping on some shampoo and moving it around the top of your head can be a recipe for knots, and can make it hard for the product to get to where it needs to go—the scalp.

“Washing your hair in sections both makes it less likely to get tangled and also makes it more manageable to actually reach the scalp. Both the scalp and your hair will feel cleaner,” explains Raven Hurtado, a stylist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon, adding that you can repeat the technique with conditioner, too. “It’s a good way to ensure you get an even saturation of conditioner and makes it easier to comb it through if you typically do that,” she says.

The procss can be especially beneficial for those who have medium-to-thick hair or curls, both of which increase the likelihood of ending up with tangles. That being said, anyone can benefit, which is why I (with my fine, straight hair) decided to take this TikTok trend for a test run.

What happened when I tried split hair washing

It’s worth noting that my scalp is oily with a capital ‘O.’ No matter how much dry shampoo I use, I have to wash my hair every day, so any kind of tip or trick that promises to leave it feeling cleaner is always appealing.

After wetting my hair as I usually would, I split it up into sections. Hurtado recommends creating four sections: Any less and you’re not getting the full benefit, any more and you can get confused about which ones you washed and which ones you haven’t, she says. It also bears mentioning that this technique only works if your hair is long enough to be sectioned in the first place. I.e., you won’t be able to do this if you have a pixie or bob.

My hair is well past my shoulders, so it was easy to divide into four sections: one on top, one on the bottom, and one on each side (I didn’t bother clipping them up, but you totally can). I then shampooed each piece, and found that it was so much easier to actually get the product massaged onto my scalp. I rinsed, then repeated one section at a time. When I finished, my hair wasn’t the jumbled, knotted mess that it usually is—it was actually fairly smooth.

I split up my hair again and repeated the process with conditioner. I ended up using a bit more product than I typically would, but considering I generally tend to go through conditioner pretty quickly anyway, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Post-shower, my hair was definitely much easier to comb through than it normally would be, no detangling spray necessary. And while the process didn’t help me extend my washes any longer than usual (by the next day, my scalp was back to its normal level of oily), it did initially leave my hair feeling extra clean. Because it takes slightly longer than a standard hair wash, I’m not sure it’s something I’d do every day. But the next time I feel like my scalp has a lot of build-up or I’m taking a “full-on” shower—you know, the kind where you exfoliate, shave, do a mask—split hair washing will for sure be on the docket.

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