Dollface Investigates: Conditioner-only hair washing (CO)

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…