How to Wash Your Hair With Just Conditioner

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Co-washing is a term for washing your hair with conditioner only. Ditching the ‘poo may seem unconventional but it’s actually the perfect solution for dry hair. The natural hair movement has made this beauty routine more popular as word got around that curly and coily locks are more prone to dryness and breakage. While oils, creams, and pre-poos can help shield your hair from moisture-stripping shampoos, co-washes are more convenient and take less work. Below, we detail the benefits of co-washing and how to do it. Keep scrolling for all the info you need on this hair-washing trend!

How to co wash hair | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Getty / Jena Ardell)

Benefits of Co-Washing

Co-washing is most beneficial for thick, wavy, kinky, and curly hair types. The conditioner acts as a gentle cleanser as you work your natural oils into your roots. Unlike shampoo, you can condition your hair more than once a week and not worry about dryness or damage. Co-washing is also very cost-efficient. Because co-washing requires more frequent uses, it’s best to use cheaper products. Even the most elite of naturalist bloggers use inexpensive conditioners for co-washing, proving it’s not the product that makes the hair, it’s the treatment.

How to Co-Wash, Step-by-Step

1. Know Your Hair Type

Co-washing is best used for thick and/or dry hair. If you have fine, thin, and/or oily hair, co-washing can leave your hair feeling heavy or even oilier. Co-washing may work best for thinner hair types as a pre-styling method, as it will help give your hair a sleek hold.

2. Choose the Right Conditioner

Your conditioner does not have to be designer label, but it should be sulfate-free. Always read the back label of anything you put in your hair. Sulfates can cause your hair to become drier, irritate your scalp, and even cause hair loss. The more organic the ingredients, the better. Look for a conditioner that will give you major “slip”(perfectly detangled hair that can effortlessly slip through your fingers). Luckily, there are many brands that now provide co-wash products that not only moisturize your hair but also cleanse your scalp as a shampoo, just without all the negative shampoo effects.

3. Method Is Everything

No matter your method of co-washing, be sure to finger-detangle your hair beforehand using your favorite detangling product or oil (we recommend coconut oil). The most preferred method of co-washing is sectioning. Section your hair into two, four, six, or eight sections (depending on hair length), and coat the inner and outer layers of your hair with a conditioner. Put each section of conditioned hair into a bun before moving on to the next section of unconditioned hair. Once all hair is conditioned, undo each bun one by one under a running shower and rinse out the conditioner. After the first rinse, add more conditioner, massage the scalp, and comb through (starting from bottom to top) with a wide-tooth comb. Rinse thoroughly, coat hair with your favorite sealant oil (we recommend castor oil), and twist, roll, or clip into a bun as you move on to the next section of hair.

4. You May Need Occasional Clarifying

While conditioner is a gentle cleanser, it may not get rid of all the buildup on your scalp. It is necessary to use a clarifying shampoo or cleanser every once in a while. Remember to seek sulfate-free products. If you want to go organic, try spritzing and massaging some diluted apple cider vinegar into your scalp before co-washing.

5. Develop a Routine

You can co-wash your hair every other day without the risk of losing moisture. Co-washing once or twice a week is fine. Now if you have a bunch of shampoo bottles at home, no need to toss ‘em. Just plan your shampoo wash days for every other week and do co-washes in between.

Best Co-WashHair Products

As I Am Coconut CoWash

Made with a blend of natural ingredients, this cleansing conditioner is unlike any other. It works hard to promote healthy hair growth at the follicular level (a.k.a. below the scalp). And if you’re looking for more moisture, this hair care product has you covered. It will help you maintain moisture, add moisture, and even retain moisture after each use.

As I Am Coconut CoWash | Mane Addicts
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Matrix A Curl Can Dream Co-Wash

Looking for a cleansing conditioner to use in between wash days? You’ve found it. Infused with Manuka honey extract, helps revive curls and coils without sulfates, silicones, parabens, and other harsh chemicals.

Matrix A Curl Can Dream Co-Wash | Mane Addicts
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Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Shea Hydrating Co-Wash

Whether you have coily, curly, or even wavy hair, you’ll appreciate the deep conditioning this co-wash from Briogeo offers. Shea butter and avocado oil nourish, soften, and define curls, while rice amino acids minimize frizz. We can’t forget to mention the tomato fruit ferment, which reinforces the hair cuticle to ensure consistent curl formation and enhance definition.

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Shea Hydrating Co-Wash | Mane Addicts
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Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner

Agave, biotin, shea butter, pro-vitamin B5, and vitamin E all work together to detangle, deeply moisturize, and condition your hair from root to tip. When you lather up, you don’t need to worry about this product stripping your hair because it’s extra gentle and free of sulfates, parabens, and the like.

Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner | Mane Addicts
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Aveda Be Curly Co-Wash

Certified organic babassu oil moisturizes hair for up to three days after washing it, while also conditioning and removing buildup from your curls. Additionally, it gently cleanses your scalp and reduces frizz.

Aveda Be Curly Co-Wash | Mane Addicts
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Co-washing sounds simple enough, though there is plenty of room left for error. HERE are the five most common co-washing mistakes and how to fix them!