By now you’ve probably heard that most shampoos actually aren’t great for your hair. Full of harsh detergents, sulfates and chemicals, it can strip hair of natural oils, leaving your luscious locks looking dull and brittle. But if you’re not ready to commit to a somewhat complicated no-poo routine, there is an alternative option that might just let you have the best of both worlds. Introducing: co-washing.


What is co-washing?

Co-washing is short for “conditioner washing” and is a practice that’s been popular with curly-haired ladies for some time now. Basically, it involves swapping your shampoo for a co-washing conditioner, a specialty formulated conditioner that gently removes just enough dirt and product buildup without stripping the natural moisture out of your hair. Think of it as a 2-in-1 combo product that’s much better for your locks than Head and Shoulders.

When should you try co-washing?

Co-washing works best for women rocking curly or natural hair that could benefit from a little bit of extra oil to keep those curls looks bouncy rather than frizzy. It’s also a solid option if you currently have colored hair as it can not only help rehydrate those bleached locks, but also can keep color looking better for longer. If your hair is naturally straight or fine, this might not be the best option as straight hair with extra oil can tend to make it look dirty.

How to Co-Wash

Rather than chucking your shampoo and lathering on the conditioner that’s already in your shower, be sure to opt for a product that’s specially formulated for co-washing (like Bumble and Bumble’s Curl Conditioner that’s great for curly hair or Grow Gorgeous’ Cleansing Conditioner that’s designed for all hair types). If you’re working with a tight budget you can also check conditioner’s ingredient list for “cetrimonium and behentrimonium chloride,” both of which are mild detergents often found in conditioners that can remove dirt and make hair feel clean but not squeakily so.


Unlike your normal conditioner application, don’t apply this conditioner from the middle to the ends. Instead, deep-massage the product for three to five minutes working from your roots to ends. Let it sit and then rinse thoroughly with warm water. If you’re new to the no-poo life and want an easy transition, start by alternating between a co-wash conditioner and your normal (sulfate-free!) shampoo routine every other time you shower. Then slowly start diminishing your shampoo usage from there.

Are you a co-washing fan? Tell us what product you swear by on Twitter @britandco.

(Photos via Getty)