What Is A Cleansing Conditioner & Why Do I Need One?

Last year, reverse shampoo-ing was the big thing. If you’re part of the uninitiated hair care gang, reverse shampoo-ing means that rather than shampooing and then conditioning hair in the way that we’ve always been taught, you condition the hair first and THEN shampoo. This promises more manageable hair with more volume and avoids the hair from being weighed down with excess product. I tried it, I didn’t LOVE it but I could see the benefit, especially if you’re a fan of super rich conditioners and hate that “just washed” feeling but it just wasn’t for me.

The reverse shampoo of 2017 is co-washing and high street brands have been quick to market to the growing demand by providing affordable and easily accessible products.  I’ve been giving the trend a spin by introducing the Grow Gorgeous Cleansing Conditioner* and L’Oreal Elvive Colour Protect Low Shampoo into my bath time routine.

Er, what’s co-washing when its at home?

Co-washing is short for“conditioning washing”. It’s a no shampoo and no lather alternative to cleansing the hair to regain balance and fresh hair without over shampooing the hair that can often lead to the hair is stripped of its natural oils and nutrients. “Perfect hair” is a balancing act. Too much oil (and no washing) can make your hair oily and leave you guilty of having what I lovingly called “chip fat hair” that no about of dry shampoo can save but not enough natural oil can mean that your hair can become dry and therefore more prone to damage and breakage. Dried out hair and over washing can also mean that the cuticles of your hair become damaged and causes any coloured dye on your hair to seep out and lead to premature fading. Cleansing Conditioners” are gentle and shampoo free formulas developed to clean, condition and refresh hair in one handy step.

Do I need to co-wash?

If you tend to wash your hair regularly, is dry, damaged, chemically treated or coloured, co-washing might be just what your hairdresser ordered. You’ll still need to shampoo once or twice in a week as a deep clean is good to remove product build up which can cause the hair to be unmanageabe or make it look dull rather than Rapunzel like. If you find you’re washing your hair everyday, try alternating your usual hair cleansing routine for 2 “co-washes” for every shampoo but there is no real rule of thumb, see what works for you and if you feel like your hair becomes limp or oily you may need to shampoo more frequently.

Ok, I’m in! How do I co-wash?

Co-washing is easy peasy lemon squeezy. If you’ve managed to shampoo AND condition for the last however many years then technically you’re overqualified. Simply wet hair, apply the cleansing conditioner to the scalp and roots of your hair and massage for a minute or so and then bring the product down the lengths of the hair. Give it a comb with a wide tooth comb if you want to detangle (this step isn’t strictly necessary) and rinse with lukewarm water. Dry and style as usual – VOILA!

Can’t I just use my normal conditioner?

Technically speaking, you could BUT you most likely won’t get the best result as rinse out conditioners are usually designed to moisturise and detangle hair but aren’t designed to cleanse. You’ll freshen the hair but you’d possibly just be added more moisture to already oily and dirty hair and may mean that your hair becomes more oily or lank. The difference between co-washing (or cleansing conditioners) and your regular daily conditioner is that the cleansing conditioner is a replacement product in your routine and are usually a thinner/lighter product in order to aid the process.

Honestly, is it any good or it it just a fad?

I’ve included co-washing in my hair routine for the past 3 weeks and I’ve found it not only a really easy step which takes a) less time than your standard shampoo and conditioner and b) doesn’t make me feel guilty about washing my hair so regularly. I’m not a fan of dry shampoos as they can give me an irritable scalp and for the same reason I hate the feeling of product in my hair for any longer than 2 days, so anything which means I can wash my hair more regular without damaging my hair AND rinsing vibrancy out of my hair gets a thumbs up in my books.