Is The Co-Wash Method Right For You?

Parker Mallouf
Is The Co-Wash Method Right For You?

Some of you may have seen or heard of the term "co-wash" in your beard and hair grooming studies. Conditioner only washing or co-wash is a method of cleaning your hair and/or beard. To do this, you simply cut out the shampoo from your routine and lather your hair in conditioner. 

What an absurd idea right? It turns out co-washing your hair or beard might be the answer you've been desperately searching for. 

What's the Point?

Co-washing was first put into practice by long haired people with curly or wavy hair. This type of hair tends to be dryer than thin, straight hair. So what's so great about it? Jenny Jin of explains that "most conditioners contain trace amounts of detergents called cationic surfactants, or “quats” for short. (Some common types that you can find on your conditioner’s ingredient list are cetrimonium and behentrimonium chloride.)"

These detergents are the powerful agents responsible for cleaning your hair of any dirt, residue from hair products, or grime collected from your day to day activities. Shampoos are typically jam packed with these chemicals to get the job done.

There can be a down side to using detergent based chemicals to clean your hair regularly, especially if you have dry hair. Shampoos tend to strip your follicles of all the natural oils, leaving your hair felling brittle and wiry. If you have wavy or curly hair, you've probably experienced this phenomena many times. 

Conditioners contain weaker detergent compounds than shampoos. they will clean your hair, just not to the same degree. Conditioners can help remove any excess residue and grime, while leaving some of the natural oils. 

Will It Work For Your Hair?

Before jumping the gun, the co-wash method will not work the same for people with straight hair or oily scalps. This hair type tends to collect residue and oils at a quicker rate than curly or wavy hair. Without the use of shampoo on a more regular basis, straight hair will begin to be weighed down by the oils and give off a damp appearance. 

This doesn't mean the co-wash method can't be applied, but people with straight hair will need to incorporate a full shampoo and conditioner wash cycle more frequently. 

Co-washing is also a good practice for people that dye their hair. Conditioners break down the pigment at a much slower rate than shampoos do. The end result will be longer lasting color that won't begin to fade as quickly. 

I personally have pretty thick, wavy hair, and I can confirm the success of co-washing. My hair tends to look and feel smother. It's also more pliable. Best of all, I don't wake up in the mornings after taking my evening shower looking like a chia pet due to my hair being completely dried out.


Can I Co-Wash My Beard?

So, let's get down to business and talk about applying the co-wash method to your precious beards. Regardless of what type of hair you have, beard hair tends to be dryer than your head hair. There are significantly fewer follicles on your face than there are on your head. This makes it more difficult for your beard to retain naturally produced oils and in turn makes the hair dryer. 

Beard hair is also flat in shape, rather than cylindrical like the hair on top of your noggin. This makes them naturally more coarse, and even curly. For these reasons, you need to be keeping your beard conditioned with beard oil or beard balm regularly. 

As far as your in-shower routine, it is recommended to neither wash nor condition your beard daily. However, some of you live more active lifestyles, and not washing your beard regularly is simply not possible. 

If you're one of those people, then the co-wash method is definitely something to consider. By skipping the shampoo and using beard softener regularly, you can keep your beard clean, and not excessively dry or brittle. Co-washing your beard will clean your face forest of the dirt and grime you accumulated throughout your day, while giving the natural oils a fighting chance. 

Simply think of the softener like a conditioner for your beard. Apply it at the beginning of your shower, and let it soak in for a few seconds. Wash it out before you finish, then apply your leave in conditioners like oil or balm immediately after. 

If you experience dry hair or beard, give the co-wash method a go. It could change the game completely. After giving it a couple weeks, feel free to share your experience with us. Any and all feedback and recommendations are always welcome! 

Until next time, KEEP ON GROWING. 



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  • I’ve been trying this for quite a while. I’ll co-wash six days a week with an organic peppermint conditioner and try to massage it down to the skin. Then I’ll use either an oil/balm or both depending on the days activities.

    I also will wash one day a week with a pine tar soap and then use now oil or balm, just let it ride naturally that day.

    Justin Underwood on

  • I find the above statements to be accurate. Besides being genetically blessed with barbed wire instead of hair, I work in an roughneck environment that sucks moisture out of you. After changing my head/facial hair cleansing routine to co-wash daily and using shampoo (Blank Slate) every third day, the dead shrubbery feeling has improved noticeably. I need to stress the fact that Beardbrands conditioner combined with the utility balm is by far the softest solution for me.
    This I claim after testing about 20 different softening solutions. Beard on.

    Joe on

  • Eric, my name is Thom and we’ve spoken a few times, as well as I’ve spoken with a few of the guys on your staff, who are all great guys. I was a licensed hair designer in NYC many years ago and we commonly used what is now being called ‘co-washing’ after color and other harsh chemical treatments, primarily to remove the chemicals utilizing the quarternium 23, citric acid and a few other stringent components in conditioner. .. for the same reason this is now being used in facial fur. See, the chemicals in color and other treatments, being peroxide, ammonia and in some cases, lye… and there to do one thing, rough up the outer,scaly cuticle layer to get to the inner layers… and facial fur is really pubic hair, which has a very rough outer layer naturally… and imparting the lipids and other oils from conditioners, smooth that roughness… think of spackling a rough wall to make it smooth. The only real drawback is that if a man uses this method too frequently, it will weigh the fur down, a good thing for the bush and wide beard, but not so great for the straighter and silkier face full of fur, it can look dirty and greasy. Here is the best tip I can offer… if you are going to do this, don’t do it every time, and if you do get build up, DON’T switch back to shampoo, simply rinse lemon juice thru that fierce face fur a few times a month… that will unclog as well as add a bit of texture too. I really LOVE this site, and the men you have on your staff are not only stunning examples of beardie manliness, but genuinely nice people… Thanks for everything… Thom

    Thom on

  • I’ve been no-poo for a while now and never looked back. The skin on my scalp and under my beard is way healthier.

    Matt Mead on

  • I think more guys could benefit from washing with conditioner. I see more men with dry hair and scalps, and also crispy beards – this tends to be older guys but can be younger guys in certain dry climates, swimmers, sports dudes, and yes guys who have not been eating well and it shows in their hair and scalp appearance (fish oil boys!)
    Contrary to popular thought oils can cleanse!

    ELizabeth on

  • What’s up Greg!

    You can use the Utility Balm as a conditioner whenever you’d like. However, the Utility Balm is a bit heavier of the moisturizer, and might get on your pillow case while you sleep. Beard oil is lighter than the balm, and might be a better option for a night time conditioner.

    Parker on

  • I’d like to see you make a video in making a more detached mustache. I’m trying to figure out where is my beard end and the stash begins. Is there imaginary line? Or is it at the corner your upper lip where it ends? Thanks for the info, Greg

    Greg on

  • Eric, I sent you a message I don’t know whether you got it or not. Question about Beard balm. You mentioned two different types one with wax in it and hardening oil’s and one with lanolin Shea butter in a while. I have the one with mostly oil’s butter etc. Can I use the beard balm to conditioner when I go to bed?

    Greg on

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