Cleansing conditioners: You've probably heard of them at one point or another, as they've gained mass popularity over the past couple of years. What started as a process mainly embraced by those with curly or textured hair is expanding to a wider range of strand types.
But, what is a cleansing conditioner, exactly? Well, as Ms. Spears might say, it's not a shampoo, not yet a conditioner. It's made for cleansing (obviously), just like shampoo, but without the harsh sulfates, detergents, or chemicals typically found in one. It's formulated in a way that leaves the hair and scalp feeling clean, but not stripped, and with an added moisturizing element.
As fascinating as it may seem, this new method causes some pause for those with hair on the straight and fine side, and understandably so. According to Howard McLaren, cofounder and creative director of R+Co, the main hesitation comes from the idea that it'll leave hair feeling greasy and heavy. This makes sense when you consider that cleansing conditioners are typically formulated for thick, curly, or natural hair — types that need more moisture than others. Those with fine or oil-prone strands run the risk of looking like their manes are dirtier due to the heavy moisturizing agents.
That's what the new batch of co-washing products is here to combat — like, R+Co's new Analog Cleansing Foam Conditioner, which has a lighter formula, making it ideal for both coarse and fine strands. But, can these products convert even the most dedicated of shampooers? And, are they truly good for all hair types?
We enlisted four staff members with different hair types and levels of co-washing experience (from virgins to seasoned pros) to ditch their shampoos and test-drive some of the best and newest cleansing conditioners on the market. Read their reviews, and find out if these no-lather wonders really live up to the hype.