Can Going Shampoo-Free Give You Your Best Hair Ever? We Put Co-Washing To The Test To Find Out

We ditched suds in the name of great hair, and here's what happened...

Woman washing her hair in the shower

Do you poo in the shower? We do.

Now, before you send for the men in white coats, let us explain. We’re not squatting naked on the bathroom tiles as water trickles down our back (but hey, if that’s what you’re in to, don’t let us dissuade you) – we’re merely interested in the products you use to wash your hair, as in sham-poo.

The internet is alive with reports on the ravages of sulfates – the foaming agents that give us that squeaky clean feel – and a near certain ingredient in our haircare arsenal. There’s been talks of SLS’s causing everything from seborrheic dermatitis and bacne, to fading (chemically induced) hair colour. So what’s the alternative? No-poo.

It’s a trend that started with co-washing, which just means washing with conditioner in place of shampoo (sharing hair cleaning duties with your housemate isn’t a thing… yet. Could water charges change all that?) If you’ve got curly, dry, unmanageable locks, this might very well be your hair HG.

Our ed, Kirstie, got stuck in:

“I’ll try anything once if it piques my fancy, and co-washing, or the no-poo method, did. I’ve got annoying hair – it’s frizz-prone, which means I tend to use sulfate-free shampoo anyway, so I thought this might do the trick to calm it down. There are lots of different ways to co-wash – some people ‘reverse wash’ by using conditioner, followed by shampoo, but that just seems a bit pointless – just go all in, eh? You can also buy co-washes from brands like Ojon now, or just use whatever conditioner you happen to have lurking at the end of the bath.

I can see why this would suit you if your hair is extremely dry all over.

“The theory’s sound and I can see why this would suit you if your hair is extremely dry all over, but I’ve got oily roots, so I just felt that washing with conditioner didn’t ever leave my hair feeling or looking clean. There are some surfactants, or cleaning agents, in conditioner, so the idea is it should be enough to clean hair gently. I dunno – not for me. And definitely not if you’ve had oil, serum, dry shampoo or hairspray in there – no way will conditioner alone shift those babies.

“So I went back to my regular ‘poo method after a couple of conditioner-only tries. I’m not sorry I gave it a go, but it didn’t do the trick for me.”

How about taking it that one step further and eschewing products altogether? Would you scrub your scalp with baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar? Beauty daredevils (*me*) have taken to mixing two tablespoons of baking soda in a pint glass of water.

Dumped (in-keeping with the post theme, obvs) over my head, I wash my barnet as I normally would and then rinse. Next, instead of reaching for a rich conditioner, I pick up another pint of water – this time blended with some nose tingling ACV. Throw that concoction on too and again, I’m back in under the shower.

My hair is shinier and less flyaway, and, this bit is important, there’s zero smell – not even a whiff. There also seems to be a cumulative effect at work – the results are getting better as I continue the regime (or maybe it’s just my technique improving). I do love me a proper shampoo clean though, so I’m going to alternate the baking soda and AVC combo with my usual bottle of suds.

Poo, co-washing or AVC – which do you rate?