This French Shampoo Hack Will Save Your Hair — & Save You Money

Photographed by Lauren Maccabbee.
Those lucky enough to score (and afford) an appointment with iconic French hairstylist Yves Durif at his namesake salon inside the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan can expect a rolled-out red carpet: unlimited Champagne or fizzy water, extra long head massages, even a private styling room if you have your own IMDB page. So, when I heard the stylists there were watering down the shampoo at the hair-washing stations, I was a little taken aback. Doesn't that seem kind of... cheap?
While the word "luxury" often equates to a more-is-more approach, Durif instructs his staff to use a more conservative technique at the back bar to make sure every client has clean, but not dry or stripped, hair. They dilute the shampoo using a small bottle and filtered water, then use brushes and combs to distribute it through hair while simultaneously detangling and breaking up dirt and oil. According to Durif, it's the best thing you can do for the health of your hair, no matter your texture or type.
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"Most people use too much shampoo," Durif explains. "So I tell [clients], especially if they complain about the price of a shampoo, to apply it using a tiny bottle." Now, this isn't a new technique by any means: The natural hair community has been doing it for years and versions of it can be seen in YouTube tutorials online that make the same claims as the French hairstylist: healthier, softer hair.
The truth is, unless you just got back from an eight day camping trip, it's unlikely that you really need a palm-full of straight shampoo. For the majority of us, washing with excess cleansers dries out our hair, makes color fade faster, and doesn't provide any additional benefits. This goes for all textures and types, although daily washers and those with textured, curly, fine, color-treated, and bleached hair will benefit most from the pared-back approach, which cleans your hair while maintaining moisture.
Even better? It's a huge money saver, too — especially if you have long or textured hair and tend to blow through bottles of shampoo. To try it yourself, you'll want to get a small bottle with a pointed applicator tip — we like this $3 option from Sally Beauty. Pour a few drops of shampoo into the bottle, add a few teaspoons of water, and give it a little swirl. (Do NOT shake it, which will create a lather bomb you can't get out of the bottle.) The right mixture really depends on your hair type and needs, but starting with a 50/50 water-to-shampoo ratio is a good place to start, then add or subtract water as needed.
Wet your hair then heed Durif's advice: "Apply the shampoo just at the roots, that way it goes right where you need it and you don't waste the shampoo," he says. Massage your roots for a few minutes, then use a wide-tooth plastic comb (we love Yves' signature comb for this exact purpose) or a vent brush to detangle. Rinse, condition your lengths and ends, then rinse again. Et voilà, tu es intelligente et jolie!
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