Pros and Cons of Co-Washing: Is it For You?

The last couple of years have seen a flurry of new products and new ideas that are challenging the lather/rinse/repeat cycle of shampooing your hair. Where not that long ago women would wash their hair almost every day, some people are choosing to wash only a few times a week. Dry shampoo came along to extend the life of your average wash and help you in a pinch. And now co-washing seems to be on the lips of every celebrity stylist. But what is it? Will it work for you? This article will help you find out what you need to know.

What is Co-Washing?

Co-washing is short for conditioning wash, or cleansing conditioner. (Or to some people, simply “no-poo”). This is a new subset of products that washes your hair with conditioners that also clean your hair without stripping it. This is another way of keeping your natural oils working for you.

How does it work?

After your buy a product, you slowly introduce a co-washing routine. In order to avoid shocking the hair, first keep up your normal regimen, adding co-washing about once a week. In week two, start working the product into your routine more consistently. On days where you do not sweat from a workout or time spent outdoors, co-wash where you would normally do a full shampoo. Although your scalp may feel a bit oily at first, your hair should get used to the co-shampoo in a few weeks. To use a co-shampoo, work the product from the ends of your hair to the root.


In theory, co-washing can make your hair easier to style because it adds moisture and hydration, but works with your natural oils. This gives your hair more natural body. If you have naturally curly hair, then co-washing can help keep your hair looking shiny while tamping down on the hair’s tendency to frizz.

Using co-washing can also help extend the life of your highlights or color. Even color-safe shampoos eventually strip the hair, making your color dull over time. The more gentle co-shampoos are much better for those with color-treated hair, especially since they combat dryness.

For people with curly hair, thick hair, and naturally dry hair, co-washing is going to make your hair easier to comb, dry and style.


Product buildup may be a concern if you go completely with the co-wash option. Experts have expressed concerns about the hair follicle not breathing properly, which could impede your hair’s growth.

Your hair may feel dull, heavy or not fresh. To some extent this is explainable by the newness of the shampoo, which makes your hair feel oilier than a traditional shampoo. But for some hair types, co-shampoo is less viable. If you have very fine hair, co-washing will not make your hair thicker and fuller. Instead it will probably look and feel flatter.

If you have naturally oily hair, co-shampooing will make your hair heavier and more difficult to style, so you should stick with simply shampooing less rather than converting to no-poo.

Recommended Products

There are good no-poo products at a variety of price ranges. Some of our favorites include:

  • Matrix Biolage Cleansing Conditioner, $35.00 for 38 oz.
  • Ouidad Curl Co-Wash, $45.68 for 16 oz.
  • Deva Curl No-Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser, $15.50 for 12 oz.
  • As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner, $6.50 for 16 oz.
  • L’Oreal EverCurl Hydracharge Cleansing Conditioner, $6.75 for 16 oz
  • Head and Shoulders Co-Wash Moisture Care, $5.94, for 13.5 oz

If we had to pick just one for the bathroom, it would be the Ouidad Curl Co-Wash.

More Stories
How to Prepare Your Skin for Cold Weather