Are Co-Wash And Conditioner Basically The Same Thing? Here's The Deal


Cook, Motivationist and Nutritionist.

Washing your hair with conditioner kind of spoils the experience of cleansing your head, for the very fact that there aren’t any suds involved so you won’t have that nice, squeaky clean feeling. But that tiny inconvenience may well be worth it as co-washing is said to benefit your hair and scalp. “The theory behind co-washing is that it’s a kinder approach to clean your scalp and hair because the hair is able to maintain its natural oils and stays healthier without the harsh chemicals found in shampoos,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon, told Bestlife.

Co-washing rids your hair of dirt and grime without compromising hydration and moisture, and prevents the strands from succumbing to breakage. However, Faith Armstrong, pro stylist and director of education at Prose, shared with Byrdie that you shouldn’t mistake a regular conditioner for a co-wash. “Co-washing will cleanse the scalp in a way that conditioner cannot on its own, as long as you focus your fingertips [on massaging] the scalp and [rinsing] thoroughly.” A co-wash is a conditioner-based product, but it’s not a conditioner. It has ingredients that “gently cleanse and remove product buildup,” which regular conditioners don’t have, said Jamyla Bennu, creator of natural haircare line Oyin Handmade.

It seems confusing at first, but it’s pretty simple, really. When you wash your hair with a conditioner, you’re only technically conditioning your hair, and not much else. But with a co-wash, you’re both cleansing and conditioning simultaneously, which is what your hair (and your schedule, if you think about it) needs.


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