Caring for curly hair is no easy feat, but co-washing is one technique that can make it easier. Co-washing curly hair can prevent the dryness, breakage, and other issues caused by over-shampooing, and it’s simple to do, especially if you have the right hair-care products in your arsenal.
“When curly-haired people find themselves in a position where they must wash their hair frequently due to workouts or other lifestyle factors, it can lead to dryness in the hair. This is when co-washing comes into play,” says
curly and natural hair expert Quia. Simply put, co-washing is the technique of using conditioner instead of shampoo.
Rather than cleansing agents removing dirt and build-up, co-washing manually breaks down product build-up and dirt from the scalp without stripping your hair of the oils that curls especially need. Co-washing isn’t meant to totally replace shampoo, but if you’ve got curls, you know that wash day comes about once a week or so, depending on your specific hair.
While co-washing itself is simple, shopping for the right co-washing product for your specific hair type can be confusing because they’re not always called co-washes. Since co-wash technically stands for “conditioner wash,” which itself means washing your hair with conditioner, co-washing products might be called cleansing conditioners, co-washes, or simply conditioners that are used by the curl community as co-washes.
Admittedly, it can all sound pretty complicated, but don’t let the sheer number of options deter you from trying out co-washing if you have curly or coily hair. Finding the right co-wash for you is as simple as identifying your hair’s basic needs. If it’s extra dry, look for an ultra-hydrating co-wash with all-star humectants (hydrating ingredients) like shea butter and avocado oil. If your hair is prone to breakage, it could be worth trying a strengthening co-wash. At the end of the day, co-washing is simple — even though the options can seem endless — and the benefits include less buildup on your scalp, as well as bouncier, shinier, and more hydrated curls.
These 17 cleansing conditioners are designed to keep your curls hydrated *and* clean between shampoo sessions. Not only are they the most loved co-washes for curly hair according to Amazon reviews, but they all get the job done for under $35.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Elite Daily's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
This cleansing conditioner from beloved curl brand Carol’s Daughter is one of the highest-rated co-washing products on Amazon right now with an average rating of 4.4 based on over 3.5K reviews. “This is so amazing. A little bit goes such a long way and gives me the most amazing curls as well as a great shine,” wrote one happy customer. “I used this as a co-wash between shampoos when my hair gets dirty and needs a refresh. My curls come out bouncy and not weighed down, shiny and moisturized,” shared another.
With a rating of 4.5 stars based on nearly 1.5K reviews, this cleansing co-wash from Eden BodyWorks, well, you know, works. It’s so good that users are flocking to Amazon to write some reviews that are basically love letters like this reviewer who wrote, “This is amazing. The slip was immaculate. I used this to detangle and wash my hair. I feel like my life was changed.”
“I have thick, coarse, curly hair and this stuff is a DREAM,” shared another happy customer. “This has become my MUST HAVE for in between shampooing (which I do once a week). It has the cleansing power I need (more than most other co-washes I've tried) without stripping my hair,” wrote a third.
This cleansing conditioner has an average rating of 4.6 stars based on over 10K reviews. It’s a heavy hitter in the world of co-washes and definitely earned its high rating. “It effectively removed the vast quantities of leave-in conditioner, hairspray, and gel in it from the day before but left my scalp feeling moisturized and refreshed yet not greasy at all, and smelling and feeling amazing,” wrote one fan. “It doesn't weigh my hair down, it makes it sooo soft, it smells really nice, and my curls look great. If you want nice curls and healthy hair, I really recommend you get this,” shared another.
With an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on just over 3K reviews, this hydrating co-wash from Pantene is a great option, especially if you’re on a budget. The biggest fans are folks with chemically- or heat-damaged hair in addition to curly-haired folks. “I am in love. Of everything I've tried, this is the only product so far (in my years-long quest) that has managed to make my damaged fine hair look and feel soft and hydrated all day long,” wrote one reviewer who shared that this product works better than far more expensive ones she tried.
“This product is 3-minute miracle on steroids,” shared another happy customer. “I had matted hair and this co-wash softened and detangled my hair in seconds.”
4. Argan Oil-Infused Co-Wash
Another super-affordable co-washing product with a high rating, this hydrating cleansing conditioner comes from the natural hair brand Creme of Nature. It has over a thousand reviews and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. “I have tried around 13 different cleansing conditioners (including Wen), and this one is by far the best. I have very, very oily roots and dry, damaged ends. This co-wash gets my roots squeaky clean and makes my ends silky soft,” wrote one reviewer.
5. Co-Wash For Natural Hair
This co-wash from Gabrielle Union’s brand Flawless is particularly loved by customers with coily, natural hair, especially those with 4c curls, and has an average rating of 4.3 stars based on about 1K reviews. “My hair and scalp loooooove this stuff,” shared one reviewer. “ I'm a 4C natural and this co-wash helped immensely with my tangles. I was very pleased with my results,” wrote another.
This cleansing conditioner is lesser-known than ones from bigger brands, but is still well-loved by folks who are familiar with co-washing curly hair. “It’s so hard to find good cleansing conditioners these days,” shared one reviewer who went on to add, “I very happily surprised by how well this works, from a brand I never heard of. It really keeps frizz at bay and I almost always have a good hair day when I use it. If you have curly hair, give it a try.”
This solid co-washing bar from a champion of sustainable body care products, Ethique, can be used as a co-wash, a conditioner, or a leave-in. With over 7K reviews and an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, it’s a solid environmentally-conscious option, pun totally intended. “I'm not one to write a lot of reviews, but I felt obligated to publicly praise this product. After trying Ethique, I feel no need to ever buy another conditioner,” wrote one huge fan. “ I co-wash only [and] follow the curly girl method. This stuff is easy to use and cleans my hair well,” wrote another.
Users familiar with co-washes were pleasantly surprised by how effective this cleansing conditioner foam is. “It makes my hair feel absolutely clean after a sweaty workout without stripping my hair of moisture. My hair also feels conditioned and that’s hard to do when you have highlights. I only use the smallest amount and I have hair past my shoulders. It’s honestly the best thing about 2020,” wrote one happy customer.
Aunt Jackie’s is a much-adored drugstore brand, especially for folks with curls. This co-wash has an average rating of 4.5 stars based on nearly 1K reviews, and is raved about by people who know a thing or two about co-washing their hair. “This is my all time favorite co-wash, and I have tried many from low cost to salon: As I Am, Not Your Mother’s, Carol’s Daughter, and some salon ones that are ridiculously overpriced. Aunt Jackie’s does it all,” share[s]
D one reviewer.
While another wrote, “This co-wash is a pleasant change from my regular shampoo in the sense that it is less harsh on my hair and scalp.
If you are hesitant to make the change, don't be... I was too and I'm so glad I did. If you are looking for something new, give it a try. I personally love it!”
This 3-in-1 from TGIN works as a co-wash, a conditioner, and detangler, but the top reviews all love it specifically as a co-wash. “I shampoo once a week, but use this in between washes once or twice a week to freshen up, especially after a sweaty work out. Works great!” shared one happy customer. “My hair has not felt so bouncy, full, and SUPER soft in a very long time. I have used it in between washings and for me, it's perfect,” wrote another.
11. Co-Wash For Tight Curls
Folks with very curly hair — think from 3b to 4c — appreciate the moisturizing and cleansing power of this co-wash from Twist. “Great moisture and great cleanser in one! Co-washes [and] cleansing conditioners usually do one or the other, but this does both for me. It doesn't weigh my hair down. I have frizzy, somewhat thin 3c / 4a hair [and] I use this when I'm wearing my hair curly or straight. It doesn't take a lot of this to do the job,” wrote one fan. Another shared that, “The product is IT, this is my new staple co-wash. It’s super thick and perfect.”
12. Co-Wash For Processed Hair
This minty fresh cleansing conditioner has a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 6.7K reviews. Fans of the product appreciate the price point and the fact that it works on very processed and chemically-damaged hair. “This took my incredibly over-processed and damaged hair back from a frizzy mess,” wrote one customer. “I have natural coily hair, and having my hair not feel dry is pretty fantastic; for that alone, I would feel like I'd made a good purchase, but the other qualities sell it just as effectively,” shared another.
Miss Jessie’s is a cult favorite brand for curlies like myself. The first sulfate-free shampoo I ever used was Miss Jessie’s, it worked incredibly well, and Amazon shoppers say the same about this co-wash. “This is by far the best conditioning co-wash I have ever used it leaves my hair soft and CLEAN but not stripped of oils. It smells absolutely amazing,” wrote one happy customer.
14. Co-Wash For Frizzy Hair
KMS is known for creating innovative products and this cleansing conditioner definitely fits the bill. “Rinses our beautifully. My hair has body, is soft and smooth, no frizz at all!” wrote one happy customer. “This is an amazing product! No fly-aways or stray hairs,” shared another while a third went on to share that they’re a years-long buyer after being convinced by an expert to give it a shot.
“This product is fantastic.” They wrote. “My stylist convinced me to try this product after having to wash my daily due to sweat and oils. I was really skeptical at first because I have a lot of hair, have had to wash it daily, and dry shampoos just don't work for me. My hair feels clean, soft, and conditioned. I've been using this for the past few years and plan to keep doing so.”
15. Co-Wash For Thick, Curly Hair
Ouidad is known as the curl expert brand and for good reason. Their products are bomb and this co-wash is no exception. “The product is great for my curly hair,” wrote one happy customer. “Finally a product that is true to my hair type. My hair is super soft and light,” shared another.
Folks with a lot of curly hair have to use a lot of product. It’s not fair, but it’s true. This shea butter conditioning co-wash from Cantu comes in a pack of three for less than $20 which makes it a steal if you, like me, co-wash a mane of chest-length curls a few times a week. “Love this co-wash for my 2C hair. I used to use Curlsmith co-wash, but the price is crazy so I switched to this Cantu co-wash and I love it,” shared one happy customer.
Quia recommends looking for co-washes with coconut, olive, and marula oil, especially if your hair is dry. This cleansing conditioner from MIZANI has all three of these key co-wash ingredients as well as some seriously die-hard fans. “It is the only cleansing product I use on my curly hair,” shared one customer. “Wonderful! Makes my hair soft and removes residue without the drying effects of normal shampoo,” wrote another.
Expert cited: Quia, curly and textured hair stylist and color care expert Don't miss a thing
Be the first to know what's trending, straight from Elite Daily