Can I Use Conditioner Without Shampoo?

The question “Can I use Conditioner Without Shampoo?” has probably crossed your mind at one point or another, because let’s face it, sometimes shampoo can make things a tangled, dried out mess! Find out if using conditioner only during the cleansing process is the best regimen for your curly hair!

what happens if I use conditioner without shampoo?



Can I Use Conditioner Without Shampoo?

Yes, but not too frequently. You can use a conditioner without shampoo but beware, not all conditioners are created equally. When trying to forego the use of a traditional shampoo, there is the option of just using a rinse out conditioner or what is known as a cleansing conditioner. Cleansing conditioners are also known as co washes and are typically the preferred choice when it comes to using a conditioner without shampoo. They contain very mild surfactant agents that will gently cleanse the hair, but it will not remove everything off the hair strands and scalp.

Depending on your hair type and scalp health, using a rinse out conditioner without a shampoo is not always recommended. Rinse out conditioners are generally formulated to coat the hair strands and help to make it appear shinier and easy to detangle. By using a rinse out conditioner without shampooing first, you could be trapping in more dirt, oils and debris which will have your hair looking flat, dull and limp over time.

Not only will the health of your hair begin to deteriorate if you make it a habit of using a rinse out conditioner without shampoo, but you may begin to see it actually becomes drier than usual and break off a lot faster overtime. If you are someone with a very active lifestyle that requires more frequent wash days however, then you will want to look into the use of a cleansing conditioner at best.

Shampoo will always be the number one option when it comes to getting the hair and scalp clean, but understandably, if you have to cleanse your hair more frequently than once per week, using a shampoo just might not be ideal. Shampoo can strip the hair of its moisture, leaving the hair feeling squeaky clean. Having to use shampoo every other day, might actually wreak havoc on your hair and scalp eventually due to the lack of oils and moisture. This is where using a co wash comes into play!

This post is all about can I use conditioner without shampoo?


what happens if I use conditioner without shampoo?

What Is Conditioner?

Conditioner is a product made up of cationic positively charged particles that work to bind onto our hair, which is negatively charged, especially after using a shampoo. Shampoo is typically alkaline which contributes to there being an increase in the negative charge of our hair strands. The negative charge makes the cuticles on each individual strand gently lift up like scales on a string.

Since conditioners have a positive charge, once it comes into contact with the negative charge on the hair, the cuticles lay flat again. This is important to note because it is due to this process that the hair instantly becomes easier to detangle, looks shiner and is less frizzy. The main purpose of a great conditioner is to reduce the amount of friction between strands and improve its manageability.

Have you ever heard someone reference their favorite conditioner as having good “slip”? The ease in which the conditioner glides over the hair and reduces tangles with ease is what they are referring to when they use this term. Conditioners can be formulated with essential oils, botanical herbal mixtures and vitamins, to help quickly revitalize hair after shampooing.



Conditioners come in different forms and are used for different outcomes.



what is conditioner



Let’s take a look at the different conditioner options:



What Is A Rinse Out Conditioner?

Use a rinse out conditioner when you won’t be deep conditioning your hair in order to add moisture lost from shampooing back into the hair. These type of conditioners are formulated to stay on the hair no longer than 5 minutes or so and keeping them on the hair any longer won’t do you any good. The molecules in a rinse out conditioner are a lot larger than the pores on a hair strand, so they typically don’t get absorbed into the hair. Instead, rinse out conditioner is made to coat the strands and help provide hair that feels easy to detangle, soft and smooth.


What Is Co Wash or Cleansing Conditioner?

A co wash or cleansing conditioner is actually a conditioner that is used to gently cleanse the hair in between washes, that would typically need a thorough shampoo. Co washes are formulated with extremely mild cleansing surfactants and although they work well if you’re someone who needs to wash their hair more often than once per week, it still does not replace your traditional shampoo when it comes to getting the hair rid of debris and product buildup.


What Is A Deep Conditioner?

Deep conditioning is essential in repairing, re-moisturizing and strengthening the hair when everything is stripped away during the shampoo phase. Unlike a rinse out conditioner, a deep conditioner is meant to be applied to the hair for a longer amount of time (typically 20minutes) and works better once heat or steam is applied. This is because the molecules in a deep conditioner are small enough to be absorbed into the hair strand, strengthening, repairing and moisturizing it from within. For a list of the best deep conditioners for low porosity hair, click here.


What Is a Leave In Conditioner?

A leave in conditioner is great to use when you want to keep that moisture going! After you have rinsed out your conditioner or deep conditioner, spritzing the hair or rubbing in a moisturizing leave in conditioner can help to prolong the moisture levels in your hair before applying any stylers. Leave in conditioners are kind of like the primers for hair care. Try to incorporate using them before going in with your gels, twist creams, butters etc.


What Are The Benefits Of Washing Hair With Conditioner Only?

Conditioners provide an easier way to manage and maintain moisture levels in hair that typically gets tangled during the shampoo process. Co washes gently cleanse the hair and are a great bridge between having to do the full on process of using a traditional shampoo and then having to deep condition afterwards.

You will immediately notice how easy it is to manage your hair when you forego shampoo. You will definitely cut down on your wash time and if you have curly hair,  those curls will seem to be insanely hydrated.

Because there are no harsh cleaning surfactants being used to strip the hair, you are able to keep its moisture levels in tact.


what are the disadvantages of cowashing?


What Are The Disadvantages Of Cowashing?

Co washing can yield some pretty unhealthy set backs to the hair when used too frequently in replacing your shampoo. Although a good co wash can have some cleansing agents inside of its formulation, it is no where near as efficient as what is found in a standard shampoo.

Failure to properly cleanse the hair to remove all the dirt, dust, oils and product build up that accumulates on the hair strands throughout the week can stunt your hair growth goals. This can lead to hair that turns limp, appears flat, no longer absorbs moisture and feels dry while eventually breaking off.

It is recommended to use a clarifying shampoo when this happens, to reset the hair and scalp. Co washing the scalp can make an already pre existing scalp condition worse, by not effectively shampooing. You may notice an increase in dandruff and itchiness after a few days of just using a cleansing conditioner.

Should You Put Conditioner On Your Scalp?

No, it is not recommended to put conditioner directly on your scalp. Try to apply your conditioner from root to tip but with extra care not to apply to the scalp. Your scalp produces a natural oil called sebum and by applying conditioner to the scalp, you are not thoroughly removing the oils. This will run the risk of trapping or clogging the oils in the scalp, which will make the hair unable to push out new growth, look flat and even greasier upon rinsing.

If you have a sensitive scalp that is prone to dandruff, itchiness and flaking, you will definitely want to avoid placing conditioner on your scalp as this could further irritate things and make the situation worse. Always speak to your dermatologist if you are having scalp concerns or issues that aren’t fully treatable with over the counter hair products.

Final Thoughts On Co Washing

Co washing, cleansing conditioners or rinse out conditioners are sometimes used in leu of using a traditional shampoo as a way to buy time before the full on production of wash day comes into play. If you are someone that has to wash their hair more frequently due to excess sweating from activities of an active lifestyle, using a conditioner as a co wash before you are ready to actually shampoo your hair might be a good idea.

Keep in mind that too much of anything is not a good thing, so try to avoid only using conditioners instead of shampoo for too long. If not, you will get hair that is limp, flat, greasy and fails to absorb other hair products that you have spent your hard earned money on.

Always opt for using a clarifying shampoo if you are using a co wash often, to reset your hair and start the deep conditioning and styling process with a clean slate. Remember that if you use a conditioner without shampoo, do not go in with a deep conditioner. It won’t be fully absorbed into the hair strands because they are not fully cleaned in the no shampoo cleansing process.


Comment below if you have ever tried co washing and how often you do it!

This post was all about can I use conditioner without shampoo?

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