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Co-Washing: Washing Your Hair Using Only Conditioner

Updated on October 29, 2016

I will never pretend to be a beauty expert, nor will I act like I am up to date with the latest hair washing trends. I was still experimenting with dry shampoo and researching the 'no-poo' trend, when suddenly someone threw the term 'co-washing' my way. Much like no-poo, I was not able to [correctly] guess what co-washing was and had to look it up.

After looking into co-washing a little more, I decided to give it a try.

What is co-washing?

"Co-washing is short for conditioner-only washing" (source).

Conditioner-only washing?

Conditioner-only washing (co-washing) is exactly what it sounds like. It is "a method of cleansing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo" (source).

Have you tried co-washing?

See results

Why?

There are a number of reasons people choose to co-wash their hair, but the most common reason is simply to avoid shampoo.

"Normal shampoos have detergents and chemicals (commonly known as sulfates) in their formulas to strip dirt and oil from hair" and can be quite harmful (source).

Who?

When I first heard about co-washing, I read some articles that suggested this method is only appropriate for people with hair that is dry, curly, frizzy, damaged, bleached or textured. However, as I continued reading, I found just as many articles that argued this method is appropriate for all hair types.

How?

  • Before getting in the shower, comb your hair to remove any tangles.
  • Once you are in the shower, wet your hair thoroughly.
  • Massage a liberal amount of silicone free conditioner into your roots and scalp. Then, apply another generous amount of the conditioner to the rest of your hair.
  • If you can, manipulate your hair into a pile on the top of your head, and/or cover with a shower cap. This will help prevent the conditioner from being rinsed off as you continue to shower.
  • Shower as usual - shave your legs, wash your body, practice your acceptance speech for the Grammy Awards, etc...
  • Give your scalp a final scrub (30-60 seconds).
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly. For best results, use cold-cool water rather than hot.
  • Dry your hair and style as usual.
  • Repeat approximately 2-3 times a week.

The results...

After experimenting with co-washing for a couple of weeks, I do not have any complaints. I had read, prior to starting, that switching to the conditioner-only method often causes hair to go through a 'transition period' (source) and had tried to prepare myself for greasy looking hair. Much to my delight, my hair responded nicely to this shampoo-free method of washing.

So, is this my new hair care routine? Have I given up shampoo forever? Probably not. That's not to say that I'm not thrilled with how healthy my hair seems and how incredibly soft it feels. Believe me, I am. For me, the key to hair care (and again, I'm no expert) is to switch up my routine.

What are your thoughts on co-washing? Is it something you have tried or would be willing to try?

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