By Jc of The Nat­ur­al Haven Bloom

Con­di­tion­er wash­ing is a method that has its ups and downs. Can you wash your hair with con­di­tion­er? Yes you can and it is not real­ly because hair con­di­tion­er con­tains sur­fac­tants as you will often see writ­ten as an expla­na­tion. The sur­fac­tants in hair con­di­tion­er are actu­al­ly designed to stick to hair while those in sham­poo are intend­ed to bind to oil and lift it off the sur­face. In the grand scheme of things, sham­poo will remove more oil and dirt than con­di­tion­er, con­di­tion­er will remove more oil and dirt than using plain water. It is per­fect­ly accept­able to wash your hair with con­di­tion­er but there are key tips and tricks to mak­ing it work on a long term basis.

1. Do not co-wash with a deep conditioner

If you are intend­ing to reg­u­lar­ly co-wash your hair (3 times or more per week), do not pick a con­di­tion­er labelled as a deep con­di­tion­er or inten­sive mask. These tend to con­tain a high­er pro­por­tion of ingre­di­ents that stick to the sur­face of hair and give soft­ness for exam­ple behent­ri­mo­ni­um metho­sul­fate. This is not to say that these ingre­di­ents are bad, it is sim­ply that the con­di­tion­er is for­mu­lat­ed for less fre­quent use and you can cause build up to form by reap­ply­ing it con­stant­ly with­out using a sham­poo in between. A sim­ple rinse out con­di­tion­er with the same ingre­di­ent is more like­ly to work bet­ter as it is made for more fre­quent use and there­fore for­mu­lat­ed to be lighter and eas­i­er to wash off. Use your deep con­di­tion­er when you feel your hair requires addi­tion­al care.

2. Be aware of silicones in styling products not the conditioner

You do not need to avoid sil­i­cones com­plete­ly to get the most from a co-wash­ing rou­tine. It is the pure sil­i­cone serums that gen­er­al­ly cause prob­lems. If you use these type of prod­ucts for dai­ly styling, it may not be pos­si­ble to ben­e­fit from co-wash­ing. Most mod­ern con­di­tion­ers  use what are known as amine mod­i­fied sil­i­cones usu­al­ly not­ed by amo, amino, amine  (for exam­ple amodime­thicone, bis-amino­propyl dime­thicone). These are water sol­u­ble sil­i­cones and are eas­i­ly washed off, noth­ing to be con­cerned about in terms of block­ing mois­ture to hair.

3. Alternate with shampoo

Hav­ing the occa­sion­al wash with sham­poo is the real trick to being able to suc­cess­ful­ly man­age a co-wash rou­tine. The sham­poo will help cleanse hair thor­ough­ly and do note that it is per­fect­ly fine to use a mild sul­fate free sham­poo or sham­poo bar. The idea is that you utilise a cleans­ing prod­uct on occa­sion to help clear off any build up before it becomes an issue.  The alter­na­tion rou­tine is real­ly up to you and your hair. You can sham­poo wash once a week, once every two weeks or once a month.….…..just don’t for­get to do it.

4. Consider your environment and lifestyle

Reg­u­lar exer­cis­ers who sweat heav­i­ly may find that sham­poo­ing on a dai­ly basis is too harsh. Con­di­tion­er wash­ing is a per­fect solu­tion for them. How­ev­er, if you live in an area of high pol­lu­tion or your work brings your hair into con­tact with a high lev­el of dust or dirt, you may find that a co-wash­ing rou­tine actu­al­ly makes your hair dirt­i­er as hair con­di­tion­er has a ten­den­cy to attract and bind par­ti­cles. Find­ing a mild sham­poo may be a bet­ter alter­na­tive instead of adopt­ing a co-wash rou­tine.

What are your tips and tricks for effec­tive co-wash­ing?

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32 Comments on "4 Tips for Effective Co-Washing"

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Melinda Kearse

I did the big chop for the third time last week, my edges have become non exist­ing. I am on a seri­ous mis­sion to get my hair back to a healthy state! read­ing this has def­i­nite­ly helped.

Pass The Deutschy

More excel­lent advice espe­cial­ly point num­ber 4! Thank you.

Valencia Chapman

I alter­nate sham­poo­ing and co wash­ing. I wash once a week with sham­poo, but in between about day 3 ( I work­out a lot and sweat!) I co wash. On wash day when I sham­poo, I pre­pos­ter­ous or use a ben­tonite clay mask to get rid of impu­ri­ties. And of course deep con­di­tion with or with­out heat.


Awe­some. I’m learn­ing so much.


Great arti­cle.


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Hey, after I wash my hair (sham­poo or cow­ash), I apply my can­tu shea but­ter leave in con­di­tion­er to damp hair. I was won­der­ing if I should let my hair dry before apply­ing my ORS olive oil mois­tur­iz­ing hair lotion and sealant…or should i apply every­thing while my hair is still damp? Thanks!


I need some advice, I would like to do my first co wash this week but I also have some itchy dan­druff which I read can be treat­ed with an apple cider vine­gar rinse. Can I do both on the same day? Or will this be dam­ag­ing to my hair?

Thank you!


[…] Pre-poos (pre-sham­poo treat­ments) and co-wash­es (con­di­tion­er wash­es) can help pro­tect against mois­ture loss dur­ing the wash­ing process … espe­cial­ly dur­ing the cold sea­son.  Pre-poos usu­al­ly con­sist of oils, con­di­tion­ers, or both and are left on the hair for sev­er­al min­utes or hours.  Co-wash­es typ­i­cal­ly involve wash­ing with a rinse-out con­di­tion­er.  For tips on effec­tive co-wash­ing, read this ear­li­er BGLH post. […]


[…] Pre-poos (pre-sham­poo treat­ments) and co-wash­es (con­di­tion­er wash­es) can help pro­tect against mois­ture loss dur­ing the wash­ing process … espe­cial­ly dur­ing the cold sea­son.  Pre-poos usu­al­ly con­sist of oils, con­di­tion­ers, or both and are left on the hair for sev­er­al min­utes or hours.  Co-wash­es typ­i­cal­ly involve wash­ing with a rinse-out con­di­tion­er.  For tips on effec­tive co-wash­ing, read this ear­li­er BGLH post. […]


Gosh… I’m just sou con­fused I dnt know which one to do again,don’t wet ur hair daily,don’t co wash dai­ly, anoth­er web­site wud be satin a dif­fer­ent thing. I just cut my hair and I’m lukin 4 a good regime..I washed my hair today,while it was still wet I applied olive oil buh lat­er my hair just felt dry and oily..I just don’t know again;( .. Can I use dudu osun soap as a clar­i­fy­ing sham­poo bar. My con­di­tion­er doesn’t even lath­er wen I apply it to my wet hair. I jus tire


Yes tri­al and error is the only way
It’s takes for­ev­er but a great way to do it is to buy ‘the basics’
Aloe Vera
Glyc­erin Evoo, Çold pressed coconut oil Rose water,Shea but­ter ‚boiled and cooled water for mist­ing and mix­ing, and hon­ey
It’s a great place to start cos it’s rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive con­sid­er­ing you can make sham­poos con­di­tion­ers moistu­rusers and sprit­sers from these things just but Chang­ing the amount of each com­bo


I mois­ture and seal after washing…whether I co-wash or use sham­poo and deep con­di­tion­er. I mois­ture and seal with a leave-in con­di­tion­er, mois­tur­iz­er and nat­ur­al oil (in that order). This method works for me. Try dif­fer­ent meth­ods until you find one that works for you.

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DeVolter Robinson

Hi, i was won­der­ing if you think cold wash­ing is for me. I nat­u­ral­ly have a scalp so i have to put oil in every cou­ple of days. I also have col­or treat­ed hair and i have been drink­ing alot of water, not very much heat in my head at all. So could you sug­gest some nat­ur­al or pro­tec­tive hair styles? How often should i ge?t a pro­tein treat­ment


What are some good co wash­es out there? The only one I’ve seen so far is Pan­tene


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Thanx so much, I would have made a big mis­take. I’m from NYC and pol­lu­tion lev­els are extreme­ly high. I’m glad I read this, now I know co-wash­ing is not for me!

Co-Washing Hair

These are great tips. #1 is espe­cial­ly good, I know a lot of peo­ple think deep con­di­tion­ers will be good for co-wash­ing when that’s def­i­nite­ly NOT the case.


Hel­lo, can u tell me what steps to do after I co-wash my hair with con­di­tion­er, lead­ing up to styling.

Gustina Jackson

I used prod­ucts specif­i­cal­ly for co-wash­ing and my impres­sion was neu­tral. I got good results from using EVOO to pre- treat under a heat cap; rins­ing with ACV; then co-wash­ing with Suave Shea But­ter con­di­tion­er. After this I deep con­di­tioned with cho­les­terol con­di­tion­er. I will do this every two weeks alter­nat­ing Suave co-wash­es and sham­poo wash­es. My goal is to grow hair.
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I have co-washed my hair with AS I AM Coconut Co-wash and it left residue on my hair. I do not know if I am using it right.

Aliza hair breakage

This is very inter­est­ing post..and nice review a..this is look­ing awesome..You doing great job..thanks for shar­ing here .


I alter­nate between sham­poo­ing one week, and cow­ash­ing the next. I have start­ed to use sham­poo bars and I LOVE them. They do a great job of real­ly cleans­ing my scalp with­out strip­ping my hair. I cow­ash with Suave Nat­u­rals Con­di­tion­er, which actu­al­ly seems to mild­ly cleanse my hair.

Great arti­cle!


Nice arti­cle, great tips!


Very infor­ma­tive arti­cle, thank you.


I like to alter­nate between con­di­tion­er and sul­fate free sham­poo. I wash my hair once a week with sham­poo. If I feel that my scalp needs mild clean­ing mid­week, I will cow­ash. It usu­al­ly takes my hair a full week to accu­mu­late dirt and oil, but my scalp starts to itch and get flaky mid­week. I’m not wor­ried too much about build up because I use main­ly nat­u­ral­ly derived prod­ucts to mois­tur­ize, style, and seal(shea mois­ture, shea but­ter, olive oil). I also do ACV rins­es once a month or twice in a month if my hair/scalp needs it.

Sabrina Antoinnette

Some peo­ple shy away from sham­poo­ing, but I’m a week­ly wash­er too! My scalp is com­plete­ly unfor­giv­ing if I don’t… I am also a prod­uct min­i­mal­ist @LM.


Me too. My scalp will let me and every­one around me know that I did not sham­poo for the week. I am try­ing to incor­po­rate co wash­ing, but reg­u­lar rinse out con­di­tion­ers won’t cut it,in fact, it encour­aged buildup. I am now try­ing the As I Am coconut cow­ash and might switch for the cleans­ing pud­ding to sub sham­poo some­times.

Ugonna Wosu

I didn‘t know that the styling prod­ucts with sil­i­cones are more of a prob­lem than the con­di­tion­ers with them. I‘ll con­sid­er that in the future, thank you.