Constantly trying new shampoos looking for something that really works?
Using expensive salon products to fight frizz?
Tired of dealing with stubborn flyaways?
What if I told you there was a way to get away from all that?
What if I told you there’s an approach to hair care that doesn’t use shampoo? An approach that may well let you cut back if not stop using a ton of other products to cure the issues you’ve got with your hair.
That’s right. Having seriously shiny, lush locks that are both beautiful and healthy is totally possible without shampoo.
Don’t believe it?
Well the answer to your hair care prayers may be found in cleansing conditioners or co washing. Some report it works better for them than reverse hair washing although that’s certainly another way to go.
So keep reading if you want the 411 on this different approach to hair care. Especially if you are still confused about co washing and have a bunch of questions.
Thought this video was a good place to start. It covers some of the basics and will begin to answer some of those questions you may have. More detailed answers to the nine common ones follow.
Q#1: What is cleansing conditioner?
A: Great! The best place to start is the beginning!
Turns out cleansing conditioner, which also goes by “co washing” (short for conditioner washing) or “no poo” (no shampoo), is a gentler way to wash your hair.
That’s because it doesn’t rely on detergents or sulfates to do the job. May seem somewhat counter intuitive but it works.
In addition to lacking detergents or sulfates it’s also non foaming.
Wait, what!? Yep, no frothing lather.
No squeaky clean feel either.
But that’s the point, isn’t it?
Sure all of this may take some getting used to after a lifetime of making squeaky clean strands the goal of shampooing.
But really isn’t the lack of suds and squeak a good thing? Because that tells you your hair’s natural oils haven’t been stripped away. That’s because a cleansing conditioner uses emulsification agents instead of detergents to rid your scalp of dirt and product buildup residue.
That makes it a bit of a hybrid not exactly conditioner and not exactly shampoo.
If it helps think of it like taking a delicate blouse to the dry cleaners rather than submitting it to the vigorous agitating wash cycle of your clothes washer. Clean just in a different way.
Bottom line, co washing is just a gentler way to wash your hair. Or shampooing reinvented!
As a result you have a mane that is shiny, super soft and manageable.
Of course to get there you need the right bottle of product. Finding that starts with reading labels.
Q#2: What should reading the label fine print reveal?
A: Actually it’s more what you should NOT find.
Now you might think of these as not all that different from a 2 in 1 product just with a heavy emphasis is on conditioning. So your tresses not only get cleansed they also get majorly moisturized.
Still don’t be shocked if the list of ingredients on a bottle of cleansing conditioner compared to your daily conditioning product isn’t all that different.
That’s why in a pinch you can just use a generous dose of your everyday conditioner to do the job. Surprising but true.
That little hack aside, if you’ve been paying attention you know the best cleansing conditioners lack sulfates aka harsher cleansing agents, parabens aka preservatives some think we should avoid, and silicones which can build up on your strands eventually weighing them down.
So all those should be “not found”.
Then too it should come as no surprise that different hair types, fine, curly, colored have different needs.
Persist and find the right label for yours and in essence get the best of both worlds.
Q#3: Right, but is it really as easy as Ready, Set, Pump?
A: Yeah, pretty much.
So don’t over think this. How you wash your hair with conditioner isn’t exactly rocket science.
I mean when co washing, instead of scrubbing your scalp with shampoo you’re doing so with a specially formulated conditioning product.
You can still follow the wash, rinse, repeat, routine too. It’s just easier on your mane since no harsh chemicals are involved.
Other than that follow these six simple rules:
- Rule #1: Get your hair wet, as in saturated, to set the stage.
- Rule #2: Don’t chintz on the product. Understand this is a product intense approach. It’s perfectly normal to use (much) more conditioner than you would shampoo. Or whatever it takes to generously coat those strands from tips to roots.
- Rule #3: To get the level of cleaning you’re looking for you’re going to want to work it some. That means don’t be afraid to vigorously massage your scalp for a minute or two or three.
- Rule #4: Even distribution matters too. So you’ll want to comb it through your strands to the ends with your favorite wide tooth comb. Do so to make sure your ends get the hydration they need.
- Rule #5: Then give the product time to work so it can produce optimum results for you.
- Rule #6: From there do your usual shower routine, shave your legs, whatever. Then when done go ahead and rinse the product out thoroughly with lukewarm water. Rinsing thoroughly is super important. Otherwise your strands can be left with a somewhat greasy co wash hangover.
See, nothing hard? Hit the sweet spot and you’ll get exciting results.
Q#4: How often should you co wash?
A: Basically as often as you need to.
The good news is you can let the magic happen as often as you need to with no worries about drying your locks out. So, yeah, frequency here really isn’t really that big of a concern.
Just to clarify the “how often” question really comes down to three things.
- your hair type
- your daily routine
- your address
Your hair type matters to the extent it gets oily or not. While those with typically dryer curls likely shampoo less often anyway you can expect more of the same.
Your daily routine matters because if you work out frequently or you have a more physically demanding job or one that requires you be outside all day, then you’ll be co washing more often because you’ll want to freshen up.
Finally if you live in Houston where it’s likely the humidity is off the charts compared to what you’d experience in say Minneapolis in July, well, that is why your address matters.
In other words those are some things that affect how often to no poo.
Q#5: Who are the best candidates for no poo?
A: For starters those with super curly, super processed or super dry manes.
Certainly going the cleansing conditioner route isn’t for everyone. Yet that’s not to say those who can benefit from this approach hasn’t moved far beyond just the early adopters or curly haired types.
Okay, so obviously the curlier your hair the more likely it will benefit from the hydrating powers this method offers since your strands tend to be parched naturally.
While those who have arrived at dryer strands via chemical processes or general neglect stand to benefit too.
And as the Matrix website points out, those with aging hair might find this to be helpful what with the changes in texture that occurs to our locks as we get older.
Q#6: Okay but isn’t this just for women with curly hair?
A: Let’s address a common misconception.
Sure suds-free is popular with the thick, curly, going natural set. But again that’s not to say any hair type can’t benefit.
Anymore there are products for every hair type. The gentle cleansing works to rebalance your scalp’s oil production that might be working over-time currently. This reset can have a dramatic impact on your mane regardless of type.
So those with fine, even oily, strands can find “no poo” helpful.
Yet those with fine hair don’t necessarily have to go all in either. They can make this part of their hair care routine just not do it exclusively. Especially if they pick up a bottle containing a light formulation that won’t leave their strands all weighed down and heavy – alternating that with shampoo can work out great.
Granted co washing may not work universally but that doesn’t mean it won’t work just fine for most.
Q#7: Who Shouldn’t Consider Cleansing Conditioners
A: Good point because again this isn’t for everyone.
It comes down to the oiliness of your locks and how big a role styling products play in your morning routine.
If you have hair tending towards oily or you just love your dry shampoo, texturizing spray, mousse and such then you may want to at least keep a foot in the shampooing camp.
That’s not to say you can’t co wash. It just says you may need help from the detergents found in shampoo to clear the decks from time to time when it comes to grease or leftover product residue.
Just shampoo on an as needed basis or on a schedule unique to your mane.
Q#8: Can it live up to the hype for me?
A: Ummmm, can’t say.
Wen lawsuit aside, it seems most who successfully switch from shampooing to using cleansing conditioner never switch back.
They become hard core co washers. Extremely dedicated to the process because it works for them.
You’re just going to have to date the process to see if it’s your Prince Charming or not. Fair enough?
Q#9: Any Other Co Wash Perks?
For one, this is ideal for women who shampoo often but feel something gentler, with fewer harsh chemicals, might be helpful.
That lack of chemicals also means it won’t strip your strands and scalp of natural oils which is why it’s such a hit with curly girls. Since it’s those natural oils that keep your strands shiny, strong, soft and supple.
Any co wash won’t strip out the color either meaning it’s easy to be a fan if you color your strands. No premature color fading. Your color just lasts longer. Saves you time and money.
Combined those two benefits mean you can lather up, such as it is, as often as you like without fear of doing damage to your strands.
And to repeat something already mentioned no poo can spare your hair the dryness that can result from over washing with shampoo. Dryness that can lead to a brittle, frazzled damaged mane full of frizz and static. No one wants that.
Then too in some ways it’s faster or maybe simpler? Because you’ve got one product vs an array of shampoos, conditioners, detanglers etc not to mention an array of styling products you seldom have to reach for because you hair doesn’t need them.
Good to Know Facts
Be Patient: It’s important to give your hair time to adjust. You may find your hair initially is greasier. That’s not unexpected. You may want to use more product during this oil overload phase on top of what seems like a lot of product already. Otherwise, just keep at it and your mane will most likely come around.
Don’t Totally Ditch Shampoo: Some co wash converts find one key to success is lathering up with traditional shampoo periodically to do a mini deep cleanse to wipe the slate clean. Even just doing this once a month might make a difference to your hair.
Keep What You’ve Got Now: Some use cheaper everyday conditioner at least some of the time because some of these conditioning cleansing products can be on the pricey side. And count on it. You’re going to go through a lot of product – depending too on how long your hair is naturally.
Curiously Unsettling: You may find the lack of lather strangely unsatisfying. That’s not unusual. You’ll also find you’ll get over it.
So there you go. Ready to swear off the suds or what?