Conditioner Only Wash

Conditioner Only Wash, aka Co-Wash:

This is a method of cleansing your hair that does not involve shampoo, at all! You literally just wash your hair with conditioner! I know, I thought it was crazy, too. I mean, at least with No 'Poo there's a shampoo "replacement"! But NO SHAMPOO at all?!

Of course I had to try it.  I first actually started using conditioner only washes on Q because I was worried about getting baking soda in her eyes (yikes!) but I knew she didn't need shampoo. Especially with curls. Co-washing was designed with curly hair in mind, for sure.

And here's the reason: Curls tend to be dryer and need more moisture that straight hair (because curls trap the natural oils in the kinks and curves, whereas with straight hair there's nothing to stop gravity, etc, from evenly distributing the oils throughout the length of the strands.)

But don't let that stop you if you don't have curls! I don't have curly hair - yet I'm loving the results of co-washing.

Anyway, on to the method! How to co-wash/ How to wash your hair with Conditioner Only:

Of course, there are many ways to co-wash. Some "experts" say to just use a bit on the tips of your fingers, work that into your scalp on each side and repeat as many times as needed to cover and wash the whole scalp. Then once the scalp is washed, use more conditioner on the length of the hair in sections. Other "experts" on curly hair say to use a whole handful of conditioner and really basically do the same thing, but without the many careful "tips of fingers only" application.

I feel that my hair gets cleaner - aka, I do a better job - when I use a bunch of conditioner at a time. Probably 3 quarter-sized squirts. Then I go back again if I feel like I've missed a spot. That usually will get my length pretty well conditioned, too, by just letting the water run through my hair! But occasionally I use a tad more conditioner to just make sure I moisturized the ends well!

Be sure to add more conditioner if you need it by bringing the conditioner to you hair - don't pile up hair on top of your head and smush it around! (I used to do this all the time, hard habit to break!) It's much kinder to our hair to NOT do that! Just let it hang while washing it.

Make sure to rinse all the conditioner out - then if you choose to you can add more as a leave in :) 

With this method of co-washing, as well as with No 'Poo haircare, eventually you can be down to only washing your hair once a week or less! (with products) The rest of the washing can be easily done with water only. Water is so underrated these days! :) It actually cleans very well - especially with a nice scalp massage accompanying it!

I have to say, after I conditioner-only wash my hair - I can't keep my hands out of it! It feels soooo soft! I love it!

How to choose a good conditioner? Well ask 10 different people and you'll probably get 10 different answers, but MY answer is to base your decision off of ingredients. Avoid sulfates and anything that ends in -cone, for sure. Then check the for specific toxicity levels of the rest of the ingredients in the products you want to try.  (See our PRODUCT REVIEWS for some ideas!)

HERE's a blog post from Naturally Obsessed about Co-Washing if you're looking for more info! I have also seen this topic talked about on the forums as well as at the Long Hair Community. A fellow hair blogger (Hi Katie!) over at Happy Girl Hair has written a nice article about co-washing, too.

Have you ever done a co-wash? What did you think? (It takes a bit of getting used to, in my opinion. I think it's best to give it a good month or so attempt before you write it off completely!)

Feel free to email me or post any questions in the comments! I'll do my best to answer them :)


  1. I have been trying this method. I used a cheap White Rain conditioner, and afterwords, my scalp felt so nice and clean, but my hair looked a little greasy and weighed down. So I used a tiny bit of shampoo to remove any buildup, and didn't let the shampoo touch my scalp. As soon as I use White Rain up I'm going to try another brand.

  2. I read this in a curly hair book and i tried it my hair got noticeably not as dry because the harsh chemicals of shampoo couldn't hurt it anymore it's a GREAT treatment for curly hair!

  3. I have been doing this a lot more lately and am loving the results.

  4. Been doing this for 6-7 years now, like I said in my interview with you! :D


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