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Should We All Stop Shampooing Our Hair Now?

We recently figured out how often you should wash your hair—but how about skipping shampoo entirely? Cleansing your hair and scalp with conditioner instead of shampoo—aka co-washing, a term that’s been common in the curly girl world for quite some time—may sound strange at first, but it’s a one-way ticket to smoother, softer strands. Unlike traditional shampoos, which strip hair of natural oils in order to get that squeaky clean feeling, swapping in a cleansing conditioner a few times a week will zap dirt while actually adding moisture—all without weighing it down. Here’s everything else you need to know about these buzzy formulas:

They’re Not Half-and-Half Hybrids

Cleansing conditioners are a far cry from the ineffective 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner cocktails from the ‘90s. Instead, think of them as the haircare version of cleansing oils—they moisturize and remove dirt with natural oils and emollients that pull out impurities.

They Cleanse Without Bubbles

As much as we love the foamy suds of our favorite shampoos, the detergents commonly used to create them can lead to rough, dehydrated ends. Because cleansing conditioners cut out these harmful ingredients, they don’t lather—meaning they clean hair without sacrificing softness, even if you can’t “see” it happening.

They’re Not Just for Curly Girls

Hydrating cleansing conditioners are a home run for coarse, curly, and frizz-prone textures, but co-washing can also be great for damaged, fragile hair that’s been bleached, chemically treated, or repeatedly heat-styled. The formulas help smooth the cuticle—which becomes porous when hair needs TLC—and can help prevent split ends, breakage, and dryness.

They’re Safe for Your Scalp

If you’ve been programmed to apply conditioner only to your ends, it’s time to step outside your comfort zone. With cleansing formulas, you’ll want to work a generous amount into your roots (yes, the roots!) before making your way down to your ends, letting it sit for a few minutes before rinsing everything out. This allows enough time to completely saturate damaged hair and work its magic.

Ready to skip shampoo? Check out Rachel’s review of three cleansing conditioners to find your perfect match:

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