For a while now, my hair’s been an absolute mess. The roots are greasy, the scalp is flaky, the ends are dry and brittle… and I really hope you weren’t eating while you were reading that. If so, sorry. (And no, that’s not me in the picture, needless to say).

None of the shampoos or conditioners I’ve tried have done much to restore my hair to its former (sort-of) glory, but, having read a bit about conditioner-only washing recently, I’ve decided to give it a try. This is something I’ve known about for a while but haven’t been quite brave enough to try, thinking it would probably just make my already-greasy roots even greasier. This week, though, I’m going to be giving it a go, and reporting back here to let you all know how I get on. Take a look after the jump to read a bit more about the experiment…

What is conditioner-only washing?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a method of cleaning your hair by using conditioner only. The theory is simple: although conditioner contains ingredients which will clean your hair and scalp, it’s much less harsh than shampoo, so by using conditioner on its on, your hair will end up softer, smoother and in all-round better condition.

Who can use conditioner only washing?

Well, that’s what I’m about to find out. In theory, anyone can try conditioner-only washing. I have, however, read that it works better on curly or waxy hair, and as mine is poker straight, I might not get the best results. We shall see!

How does it work?

Just wash your hair as normal, but use conditioner rather than shampoo. Massage the conditioner into the scalp, as you would shampoo, then apply to the length. This method works better if you leave the conditioner to soak into the hair for five minutes or so, before rinsing thoroughly. Some people also wash with shampoo once or twice a week, if they feel they need to.

Can you use any type of conditioner?

No. This is one of the most important points to note of you want to try conditioner-only washing for yourself. Use conditioner which doesn’t contain silicones. Silicones coat the hair, forming a kind of "tube" around each strand. It’ll take washing with shampoo to get rid of this, so if you try CO-washing using a silicone-based conditioner, the silicones will just build up and turn into a sticky mess. Luckily, silicones are easy to spot on the ingredients of your conditioner bottle – they’re the ingredients ending in "-one". You’ll tend to find that cheaper brands of conditioner, such as supermarket’s own brands, will be the least likely to contain silicones, and therefore the best to use for conditioner-only washing. This is good news for your wallet too – most of the cheaper brands costs less than £1 per bottle! You may find that you need to buy a few different brands and use them in rotation, however, to stop build-up of one particular type.

So, that’s the theory – but will it work? Guess I’m about to find out…

  1. Your hair sounds the same as mine, except mine’s ( naturally ) light blonde. I might try this experement aswell! It sound great!

  2. I know this is way old but if you still have this problem you might try Aveda’s Scalp Benefits? I’ve never had any problems with my scalp but I use their madder root shampoo & conditioner to keep my dyed red hair red and not that barfy color it tends to turn.

  3. i just did my first co wash today after reading so much about it online…
    even the most scalp friendly, sulphate free shampoo’s leave my scalp itchy and sometimes even with a burning sensation which is why i tried co wash… so far so good.. my hair suprisingly is clean and full of volume.. only thing is that my ends r really dry.. i probably shud have followed the rinse with a heavier conditioner/detangler for the ends.. anyhow im going to continue with this mthod of cleansing every other day and sometime next week i’ll do a shampoo wash to get clarify… shall see how it goes.. i heard about an adjustment period for ur scalp to adapt to just co wash.. but my scalp is just loving extra moisture.. soaks it right up! woohoo.. no stinging scalp for the first time in…. about 1 year?!?!!! super. one question how often are u supposed to used shampoo to clarify?

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