Maintaining a clean scalp is one of the most important things you can do on your quest to healthy hair. A clean scalp ensures healthy hair growth by improving blood circulation and removing product build up, as well as dirt, sebum, and dead skin cells. Thus, your scalp is able to breathe and provide a healthy environment to foster healthy hair development.

On this quest to healthy hair, many naturals tend to shy away from shampoo because of the harmful, drying ingredients. This is where co-washing comes into play. Now, I do think it’s important to shampoo your hair at least once a month to strip the hair clean and provide a clean slate. However, a great cleansing conditioner can be used to properly cleanse the scalp on a weekly basis.

Co-washing with a cleansing conditioner is not to be confused with washing your hair with a regular conditioner, one that is often used for detangling the hair. Cleansing conditioners have cleansing agents in them that aren’t as harsh as those in shampoos. Your hair and scalp will be properly cleansed and your hair is able to maintain its moisture and not be stripped of its natural oils. Using a regular conditioner to “co-wash” your hair is the same as washing your clothes in fabric softener – it’s something you just don’t do.

With so many cleansing conditioners on the market, it’s hard to decide which ones to use and for what, but I’m happy to help. Here’s a list of cleansing conditioners and whom they suit best:

For Color Treated Hair

Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash

The Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash is an absolute favorite of mine. This co-wash works well on various hair types, especially hair that has been color treated. Hair that has been lightened is often drier than usual, but this co-wash works to hydrate the hair, while thoroughly cleansing it. It also improves hair manageability and aids in the detangling process.

The Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co-Wash is formulated with 3 oils (Rosehip, Argan, and Coconut oils), which can be found in a few of the brand’s other products. The Rosarco oil blend protects hair from environmental stressors, tames frizz, provides hydration, softens the strands, and prevents breakage, all of which are important for color treated/lightened hair.

For Heat Damaged Hair

As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

The As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner is a great way to remove buildup and residue without stripping hair dry. Naturals with heat damage that opt to transition need to maintain the hair’s moisture at all times to prevent unnecessary breakage or damage. This conditioning cream cleanser makes detangling easier, helps the hair to retain moisture, while containing ingredients that promote hair growth.

Heat damaged hair is a lot like chemically processed hair in the sense that it is very sensitive and needs a lot of TLC. The As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner allows users to maintain a clean scalp, while creating a healthy hair environment to make the transition to healthy hair seamless.

For Chemically Processed Hair

Pantene Truly Natural Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner

The Pantene Truly Natural Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner is a great co-wash for chemically treated hair. Users can benefit from the “1-2-3 treatment” – cleanse, detangle, and condition – each time they use it, while maintaining the hair’s moisture. I like the 3-benefit treatment that comes with this product because chemically processed hair is normally weaker than unprocessed hair, and this product doesn’t put any additional stress on the hair. This product delivers the right amount of softness and shine that chemically processed hair needs!

I also love this product because it is very inexpensive. It spreads easily, so you don’t need to use a lot, so it’ll be a while before you have to pick up another one.

For Dry Hair

Mizani True Textures Cream Cleansing Conditioner

The Mizani True Textures Cream Cleansing Conditioner is my favorite, especially because it works to “maintain the natural curl pattern for touchable texture,” making it a great product for curly girls. This co-wash is formulated with 3 oils – coconut, olive, and marula – that work together to help maintain the hair’s moisture, while also smoothing, hydrating, restoring, and softening curls. My scalp is always clean after using the True Textures Cream Cleansing Conditioner and my curls are always moisturized and frizz free, which makes styling much easier!

I love using a cleansing conditioner during my weekly wash, especially in the colder months. It allows me to properly cleanse my hair, while maintaining moisture, which is extremely important for a number of reasons – the cold weather outside and the extreme heat indoors is often harsh on the hair and can further dry out curls, and my hair is color treated! In other words, I need all the protection and help I can get. I do like the benefits of cleansing conditioners, but my shampoo is never too far behind.