The beginner’s guide to co-washing hair

You won't know if co-washing works for you until you give our guide a read.

When it comes to washing your hair, there’s more than one way to lather up. And, with so much hype around “co-washing hair”, you might be wondering if your mane could benefit from trying this popular no-shampoo method.

But what does it mean exactly? And, will it work for your hair concern? If you don’t know the answers to these burning questions, don’t worry, we’ve created a quick, simple guide that’ll give you the answers you crave.

Co washing hair guide: Model with short naturally curly hair, wearing a plain white top and posing backstage
Tempted to try co-washing your hair? Here’s what to know before you do. Credit:

What is co-washing?

Co-washing hair simply means ‘conditioner washing’ your tresses, meaning you skip out on using shampoo and wash your hair solely with conditioner.

So, what’s the deal?

The idea is that washing your tresses with conditioner only will leave them more, well, conditioned, reducing frizz and making them feel softer and supple. Plus, it will also limit the amount of natural oils removed from your hair that occurs with shampooing. And because this modern approach helps tackle dryness, ladies with natural or curly hair swear by it.

Why do people with natural/curly hair love it?

The reason why naturalistas and those with curly locks love this washing method is because they tend to have hair that is dryer than others. And as anyone who has a curly hair texture knows too well: the ‘S’ and ‘Z’ shape of each curl or kink makes it difficult for natural hair oils to be evenly distributed in the hair shaft, which is why these hair types are more prone to frizz and dryness.

So, as you might have guessed by now, people with natural or curly hair have adopted the co-washing technique in efforts to hold on to as much moisture as possible, while still cleansing.

Editor’s tip: Co-washing natural hair or curly hair will be a breeze with the Love Beauty And Planet Happy & Hydrated Gentle Cleansing Conditioner.

Designed for hair that’s prone to dryness, this gentle and nourishing co-washing hair product will dissolve grease and product build-up. The result? Cleaner-feeling tresses with lovely bounce.

Co-washing hair guide: Shot of a model with ginger hair styled into a messy topknot
Dyed tresses? You should try co-washing your hair! Credit:

Who else can benefit from conditioner washing?

Have you recently got the hair colour of your dreams? Or, any other chemical hair treatment? Then, you’ll know how important it is to have the right products to maintain your new look.

The great news? You can use a co-washing hair product on your strands! Since most co-washing products contain little to no sulphates, they’ll do a great job of refreshing your mane and roots, without stripping it of its natural oils.

And, if you’re colour-devotee, a co-washing product will work to protect your hue and improve its vibrancy, also giving you a break from your usual washing schedule.  If you’re in the market for one, the TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Cleansing Conditioner is all you need.

Recommended: Does dyeing your hair damage it? Find out the truth with our guide.

What about cleansing conditioners?

Have you ever heard the term ‘cleansing conditioner’ being used by people around you and wondered what on earth they were talking about? You’re not alone. Co-washing your hair and using cleansing conditioners are actually pretty much the same thing. Heads-up: other terms like ‘no-poo shampooing’ and ‘shampoo-free’ also mean the same thing.

Are they any pros and cons that come with co-washing hair?

So, we’ve established that those in favour of this washing technique believe that it leaves hair feeling soft, supple and smooth, and that it is thought to limit the drying effects of shampooing or over-washing hair. But are there any cons? Well, the truth is that, although co-washing hair can leave your locks feeling nourished, doing it constantly can leave your locks feeling heavy.

This is because most conditioners and cleansing conditioners have silicone-based formulas, which can build up on the hair, leaving it weighed-down, and making it more difficult for other products to work with it. So, bear this in mind if this is something you plan to do (especially if you’ve got fine hair!) , and consider using a clarifying shampoo periodically to give your mane a proper clean.

Finally, how do you co-wash hair?

Wondering how to co-wash hair? Start by working in a generous amount of product to wet hair and massage it into your scalp before smoothing through to your ends as you would with a conditioner. Let this sit on your hair for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly.