What Is Co-Washing? The Hair Hack Every Guy Needs to Know

Modern Mammals

It’s no secret that your hair can get very filthy, very fast—especially if you’re a regular at the gym. But if you go down the rabbit hole of hair care advice, you might learn that it’s bad to wash your hair every day since many shampoos have harsh ingredients.

So what are you supposed to do if you want clean, fresh-smelling hair after every shower without drying it out?

That’s where co-washing comes in: the best hair hack you’ve (maybe) never heard of.

What Does Co-Washing Your Hair Mean?

Co-washing is short for “conditioner washing.” As the name implies, this simply means washing your hair with conditioner only—no shampoo. It’s sometimes called “no poo” (as in no shampoo). No matter what you call it, co-washing is a gentler way to get rid of gunk and grime in your hair while retaining its natural moisture.

Co-washing has been around for years and initially gained traction amongst people with thick, wavy, or curly hair. But it’s gone mainstream recently—and for good reason. Lots of guys are under the impression that they have to use shampoo multiple times a week—or even daily—to get clean. Maybe you’re one of them, and you’re paying the price with an itchy scalp and poofy hair.

We have good news: you can ditch your shampoo, and your hair will thank you for it.

3 Benefits of Co-Washing Your Hair

Co-washing can be a game-changer, especially if you have trouble taming your mane. Here are the top three benefits most guys notice after co-washing:

1. No More Poofy “Shampoo Hair”

The suds and bubbles in shampoo might feel good, but they’re bad for your hair. The parabens and sulfates that clean your hair also strip away its natural oils, leading to that dreaded “poofy” post-shower hair that’s hard to tame.

Co-washing protects your hair’s strength and texture so every day can be a good hair day—not just the days you skip shampoo.

2. You Have Clean Hair Every Day

Guys sometimes go a week or longer without washing their hair because shampoo messes with their scalp. The problem with that, of course, is that you end up walking around with gross, smelly hair. 

When you co-wash, you don’t have to make that compromise. Co-washing flushes away the buildup of dirt, grease, and grime without the negative side effects of shampoo.

3. Prevent Dry, Flaky Scalp

Nuking your head with shampoo multiple times a week can make your scalp dry as a bone, especially in the winter months or if you’re prone to dry skin. A dry scalp can lead to flaking and itching since your head doesn’t have enough oil to lubricate the skin.

Co-washing soothes your scalp and gives it a chance to recalibrate its oil production so you can put flake fears behind you.

How to Co-Wash Your Hair

The most important part of co-washing is using the right product. You can use a regular conditioner, but most guys find that conditioners leave their hair too soft and silky. That’s why we created Modern Mammals: a shampoo alternative that cleans hair but gives you that perfect natural flow with every wash.

Don’t take our word for it though. GQ named Modern Mammals one of the best products for co-washing and said it can even work better than plain old conditioner.

modern mammals rinse

Now that you know what to use, it’s time to re-learn how to wash your hair.

Start by wetting your hair like you usually do. Spread a quarter-sized amount of Modern Mammals (or conditioner of choice) around in your palms and then spread it throughout your hair and into your scalp. Make sure you use the pads of your fingers—not your nails, as this can damage your hair strands.

Work the product all through your hair, combing it through with your fingers all the way to the tips. This might be easier if you hang your head upside down, especially if you have long hair. Once every inch of your hair is covered, rinse it thoroughly until all the product is gone.

That’s it!

How Often Should Guys Co-Wash Their Hair?

This varies from person to person; the frequency depends on your hair’s texture and your preferences. Most guys use Modern Mammals most days per week, without the need for shampoo or conditioner. Guys with long, curly, or wavy hair might benefit from co-washing more frequently than guys with fine, straight hair.

You may also want to co-wash more frequently in the summer when you sweat more and expose your hair to chlorine and saltwater.

As GQ’s Adam Hurly points out, keeping shampoo in your cabinet may come in handy if you get serious junk in your hair—like campfire smoke or bird poop. 

At the end of the day, nobody knows your hair better than you do. Feel free to experiment with your co-washing routine and find the rhythm that works for you. 

Rethinking a Controversial Hair Care Tip

You’ve been told over and over how it’s bad to wash your hair every day. That’s partially true, but the problem is that people giving that advice often assume shampoo is involved—not a shampoo alternative.

Co-washing is a whole different ball game: you can wash your hair more often and avoid the harsh side effects of that toxic goop you’ve used for decades.

Next time someone asks you how often you wash your hair, you can say “Never—but I co-wash every day.”

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