After watching the conditioning cleaning product infomercial from a well known stylist (you know the one; the stuff is VERY EXPENSIVE), I decided to experiment with cleaning my hair with CONDITIONER ONLY. I'm a biochemist, so a quick review of the typical ingredients in conditioners, revealed enough surfactants to properly cleanse hair, without the use of foaming additives, which strip hair. So, 14 months ago, I used shampoo for the very last time.
At first, it seems counter intuitive, especially if your hair is particularly oily. I have extremely fine, straight, blond hair. Up until October 2012, I highlighted my hair (if for any reason, to give it some body), but essentially didn't do much else with it. It was top of the shoulder length. My scalp is oily, so I wash(ed) my hair daily. I did what most of you do; I shampooed then used a conditioner. The only thing that changed in my routine was to apply the conditioner to my wet hair at the start of my shower, do my shower routine, then rinse. From the first day, my hair was very clean, light weight, and shiny. More importantly, after the second day my husband noticed a difference (and he doesn't notice things like that).
Well, it's been 14 months; I've used many different brands of conditioners. I've also used the cleaning conditioners made by L'Oreal and Salon Grafix (made specifically for this purpose). The Pantene Pro-V Volumizing Conditioner is my absolute favorite. My hair is even shiner. There is absolutely no build up. It smells good without being overwhelming or smelling cheap. It's gentler than either the L'Oreal or Salon Grafix. I like my hair to smell fresh, but I don't want the smell to be overwhelming.
1 week ago my stylist noticed how long my hair has gotten (shoulder blade length, and that's with trims every 2 months). She also noticed the great condition of my hair. She said that my hair was beautiful. No one has ever said that to me. I've not "formally" highlighted my hair (pulling through the hood), since I started this experiment. I do spray a little Sun-In on the roots every couple of months. So, you could say that co-washing has saved me a boatload of money, as well as my hair. Here are a couple of things I've learned:
1. Use inexpensive conditioner. Frankly, expensive conditioners don't do a better job, you're just washing money down the drain.
2. Choose conditioner for the type of hair you have WITHOUT regard to coloring. I cannot stress this enough. Most conditioners for color treated or damaged hair contain a lot of oil and conditioners that coat your hair; you'll have to wash more often as a result. They build up.
3. If you have damaged hair, use jojoba oil, or argan oil (the pure organic oils). When I first started co-washing, my hair was damaged from highlighting. Jojoba oil has the closest properties to sebum, you're body's natural oil. Use 1 or 2 drops, rubbed in your hands, and work it into the damaged areas of your hair, while your hair is wet, not the scalp (unless you have a dry scalp). Honest, it will disappear into the hair shaft.
4. Give it time; I noticed a difference from the first day, but it's taken almost a year for me to get to the point that I can wash my hair every other day and not daily. My fine straight hair simply shows oil easier than someone with thick curly hair.