Co-Washing: Why I'm Never Going To Wash My Hair With Shampoo Again

OK, not NEVER, but only a couple times a month. Here are 10 tips for clean, hydrated, frizz-free hair with just conditioner.
Publish date:
April 26, 2013
curly hair, dry hair, co-washing, conditioner, shampoo

As you may have surmised by my recent post, I've spent a considerable amount of my nearly 30-year existence doing my hair. Specifically, I'll do or try anything to make my unruly, frizzy, thick hair bend to my whims.

When I say straighten, it should ask, "How much?"

So when I heard about this new trend called co-washing, I was all in. And by that, I mean I pretty much instantly jumped in the shower and tried it myself.

The concept is simple: Instead of using shampoo to clean your hair, use conditioner instead. Also known as conditioner-only washing, co-shampooing or conditioner rinsing, the method is great for dry or curly hair because it cleanses just enough without drying hair out, as many shampoos can (especially ones with SLS).

Believe it or not, most conditioners do contain some amount of cleanser, and the acts of wetting and massaging the scalp gets rid of a good amount of oil and dirt on their own, too.

The curly girls among you may already be familiar with the "no poo" concept, and this goes along the same lines. The result is super-hydrated, less-frizzy hair with just one step and one product. It's win-win!

I used Tresemme Naturals Radiant Volume Conditioner, which is lightweight and silicone-free, and my results were great: my hair didn't feel greasy or weighed down, just slightly slicker than normal. If I could somehow let you reach through the screen and touch my hair, I would.

I followed my curly hair routine, using a diffuser for volume, and my curls were well defined with minimum frizz.

Some co-washing tips:

  • Use a light-bodied conditioner so as not to weigh hair down too much.
  • A silicone-free conditioner is best because it will lead to less buildup.
  • Don't use protein-based conditioners to co-wash, as they can lead to breakage.
  • Choose an inexpensive product since you'll be using more of it than usual.
  • Make sure hair is saturated with water before applying conditioner.
  • Use a good amount of product and comb through to distribute from roots to ends.
  • Gently and thoroughly massage scalp to distribute product and cleanse roots.
  • For added moisture, put hair up in a top knot while you finish your shower.
  • Rinse hair to remove conditioner to desired amount; some may prefer to completely rinse out the conditioner, while others may leave a bit in for continued moisture.
  • Use shampoo once in a while to remove buildup, perhaps once a week or every other week, depending on how many other styling products you use regularly.

I think I'm a convert! Do you co-wash? What are your favorite conditioners to use? And how often do you shampoo? We co-washing noobs wanna know!