Sunday, May 16, 2010

Conditioner Only Washing Method

I never knew until less than four years ago that I could wash my hair with conditioner and no shampoo and still get my hair nice and clean. 

It wasn't until I read some information in some of the long hair forums that I heard of Conditioner Only or CO washing.

The surfactants in conditioner will clean the hair and scalp just as well as shampoo, if used properly.  

The real benefit for me is that my hair never feels stripped or dry, and I rarely if ever get tangles. My hair doesn't look greasy as you might expect when thinking about washing your hair with conditioner.

There are a few things that are necessary to know if you want to CO wash.

It's really important to let the conditioner sit for a few minutes on your wet head in order to allow the surfactants to do their work, so applying the conditioner is the first thing I do in the shower.

Before applying the conditioner, make sure that your hair is very wet, just as you would do before applying shampoo. Then take a good handful of conditioner and work it into the scalp.  I like to use a conditioner without silicones for the scalp area.  My preferred conditioner for this purpose at the moment is Suave Naturals.  It has just the right consistency for me.  It's not too rich, but it's not too thin.

Then I take another handful of conditioner and work it throughout the length of my hair.  In the past, I used to use the Suave Naturals for my length, but since I'm still nursing a few inches of damage on the ends of my hair, I do use a conditioner with silicones. Right now I'm using Tresemme moisturizing conditioner for this.

After I have gently worked the conditioner right through to the ends of my hair, I gather it with care and pile it on top of my head, secured with a big claw clip.

Once I have secured my hair on top of my head, I complete the rest of my showerly duties. By that time, my hair is ready to be rinsed.

Rinsing well is another very important key to successful COing. I like to rinse for about 3 minutes. When I have finished rinsing, I like to take a pitcher of cool water with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in it to both remove any excess conditioner residue and to smooth the cuticle of my hair, which has the bonus of boosting my hair's shine.

It sounds as though it would be expensive to use so much conditioner. However, Suave Naturals is very inexpensive, so I don't find that I spend all that much on it. Whenever I see it on sale, I stock up on a few bottles. I always seem to have several bottles of conditioner on hand.

For the silicone conditioner, I do find that Tresemme is one of the best conditioners of its type for the price. The large bottle lasts me quite a long time.

I do shampoo once a month or so, when I feel the need to clarify, as I discussed in this entry. Other than that, I never use shampoo, and my hair is very happy.

If you're looking for a new, gentler method of washing your hair, give COing a try. It may not be for you, but it can't hurt to test it out for yourself. 


  1. I'm glad that CO works so well for you. I like the CWC method the best.

  2. Apple cider vinegar smooths the hair cuticles? I've been thinking of doing a glazing sans color in an effort to do just this.

  3. I liked COing too, before I became allergic.

  4. What a great post! I have tried CO unsuccessfully before but your explanation has shown me that in the past, I haven't rinsed long enough nor did I do and ACV rinse. I tried it this morning that way you described and ...WOW! Thank you for your CO post:-)

  5. I hope you realize that any kind of silicone is not water soluble, which is why you really should stay away from them (in any product!) if you're not using SLS shampoos... they won't come out otherwise.


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