If there is one commercial from my childhood that sticks out in my brain, it's Pert Plus' two-in-one-shampoo jingle. "Are you still messing with two bottles?" it would taunt from the TV screen. And, it wasn't the only brand to do so. Two-in-one formulas were all the rage in the '80s and '90s, boasting shorter shower times with their one-step processes. Their It status was short-lived, however, as consumers began to put an emphasis on regimens and care over convenience, and these products eventually lost popularity among women.
But, like a hair-care phoenix, these two-in-one wares have risen from the ashes — but they're not quite the same. In fact, they're not technically shampoos. Say hello to the cleansing conditioner, a product that's actually been around for a while in the natural-hair circles. Cleansing conditioners do just what their name implies: They scrub your mane clean and give it a deep drink of hydration, without sulfates or surfactants. That means you won't get the suds, but you will get softer hair that looks and feels a lot cleaner. In truth, they're actually better than the two-in-one formulas of yore. "Using a cleansing conditioner is always better than a two-in-one, which never seem to leave the hair moisturized enough," says Nicole Tresch, a senior colorist at Rita Hazan Salon.
And, they're so effective, they can basically do away with your need for a regular shampoo-and-conditioner duo. Tresch does advise, though, that these products are best for people whose hair needs a little extra moisture. "It's great for people who have dry, coarse, or curly hair, but not necessary for people with finer hair."
So, if you're ready to jump into the magical hair world of cleansing conditioners, consider us your tour guides. We've rounded up 14 products that hold up against our tough tress standards. Quit messing with two bottles — all you need is one for silky-smooth, super-clean strands.