What is a cleansing conditioner? If it’s the first you’ve heard of it, get ready — it may just shake up your shampooing routine. Cleansing conditioners are the cornerstone product of co-washing, an innovative approach to hair cleansing and care.
“Co-washing” is short for conditioner washing — the concept of doing away with frequent shampoo use and focusing on deep conditioning instead. This is rooted in the idea that most shampoos strip your strands of beneficial natural oils, contributing to hair damage, and that many hair types prone to dryness don’t benefit from a standard shampoo routine. Cleansing conditioners are used in place to support hair’s moisture, luster, and overall health.1
Interested in learning more about co-washing and figuring out if it’s for you? Read on to get the lowdown on how cleansing conditioners work, how to choose the best one for your hair type, and the best tips and tricks to help you achieve your dream hair.
What Does A Cleansing Conditioner Do?
A cleansing conditioner is a sort of leveled-up hybrid of shampoo and conditioner. They’re designed to both clean the hair and help make it soft and lustrous, thanks to a deep concentration of beneficial ingredients. This allows you to rely on your cleansing conditioner for your regular washes, and potentially restore hydration and shine that a traditional shampoo could be stripping away.
While most, if not all, hair types could benefit from cleansing conditioners, this option is especially popular among those with curly hair or natural hair. Curls are known to be especially prone to dryness and breakage, and thus could use a little boost of hydration to keep hair healthy and shiny.2
What Makes Cleansing Conditioners Special?
What makes a truly great cleansing conditioner? You want one that’s designed to be especially gentle on the hair without sacrificing the potency of its ingredients. Cleansing conditioners are often formulated without sulfates — compounds known to give regular shampoo that trademark lather that helps your hair feel squeaky clean. However, sulfates and parabens are the very things that could lead to dry hair.3
So, while you won’t be lathering up, you will enjoy the potential benefits of a cleansing conditioner that works hard to help restore moisture, shine, and bounce — and not just for curly hair.
How To Choose The Best Cleansing Conditioner For Your Hair Type
You’ll want to pay special attention to the ingredients label when selecting a cleansing conditioner. Generally, you want one with sufficient emollients to soften and smoothen hair strands. Next, look for a good combination of proteins and humectants, which both strengthen and fortify hair while locking in needed moisture. Lastly, check for moisturizing ingredients that can help hair feel soft and look shiny.4
As with all other hair care products, there’s always going to be a degree of trial and error to find the best fit for your hair. You may find some formulas or ingredients are more effective at giving you the results you need, so read reviews and purchase from reputable brands so you know you’re getting only the good stuff.
How To Use Cleansing Conditioners
Here’s a step-by-step guide to a basic cleansing conditioner routine.
- Wet hair as you normally would.
- Use a generous amount of cleansing conditioner and massage it thoroughly into your scalp and strands. Take your time to work the product through your hair, but don’t expect it to lather.
- Leave on for the amount of recommended time.
- Rinse well. Don’t skimp on the water – greasy residue is not the same as moisturized locks. Make sure to rinse the product out well.
- Condition hair with your usual hair conditioning product for an extra boost of moisture.
- Dry and style as usual.5
Cleansing Conditioner Do’s And Don’ts
Make sure to get the most out of this new haircare approach by following advice from beauty experts.
Don’t ditch your shampoo just yet.
It is an ace product in removing dirt, grime, and residue from your scalp, and you should still do it at least once a week for clarifying purposes and to maintain scalp health. That being said, make sure you only apply shampoo to your scalp. Think of cleansing conditioners as a supplementary hair care routine that works with shampoo and not in replacement of it – and do a little trial and error to find your sweet spot in terms of how often to shampoo and use cleansing conditioner.6
Do be generous with your cleansing conditioner.
While you’ve probably learned that dime- or even pea-sized is the way to go when it comes to regular conditioner, this isn’t the same rule of thumb for a cleansing conditioner. Experts all agree you need to use a generous amount per wash to fully saturate your hair and help it reap the benefits of your chosen formula.7
Condition Your Way To Shinier, Bouncier Hair
If you feel your dull, damaged, or otherwise untameable hair could use a boost, try introducing a cleansing conditioner to your routine. Choose the best product you can find to make sure you’re getting quality ingredients, follow the simple guide above, and you may find yourself with shampoo commercial-worthy locks – thanks to your conditioning routine.