How to

What Is Co-Cleansing

Co-cleansing is one of this year’s biggest haircare buzzwords, although many hair experts – including our very own Paul and Adam – have been singing the praises of low-sulphate hair cleansers for much longer. With more co-cleansing products than ever on the market, we thought it was time to lay out exactly what co-cleansing (also sometimes called co-washing) is, it’s benefits, and how it works. Oh, and there’ll be a bit of a plug for our very own (and personal favourite cleansing conditioner) Percy & Reed Wonder Cleanse & Nourish too!

What is co-cleansing?

Co-cleansing is simply shorthand for ‘conditioner cleansing’ and refers to hair products that are designed to cleanse and condition your hair in one step, doing away with the need to use both a shampoo and conditioner.

The reason behind these types of hair products is that most shampoos contain sulphates which can strip your hair and scalp of the natural oils needed to keep hair healthy. So, what’s the alternative? How can you clean your hair properly without using a shampoo, you ask? Enter, the cleansing conditioner. These are conditioners which contain milder cleansing agents than those found in traditional shampoos. Washing your hair with a cleansing conditioner is a far gentler alternative to the shampoo-followed-by-conditioner method, making it especially great for dry, curly, and coloured hair.

How do you use co-cleansers?

Co-cleansers, or cleansing conditioners, are as simple to use as traditional shampoos and conditioners. After wetting your hair thoroughly in the shower, exactly as you would before shampooing, apply your cleansing conditioner from root to tip. Starting at the scalp, massage it in using your fingertips, then smooth through the entire length of your hair. We should mention at this point one of the biggest differences between a shampoo and cleansing conditioner: you won’t get that big, foamy lather you’re used to with a shampoo – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working! For best results, most cleansing conditioners should be left in for a few minutes to work their magic before rinsing thoroughly.

What are the benefits of co-cleansing?

When you’re so used to using shampoo, it’s easy to be put off by the idea of co-cleansing. How does your hair feel clean afterwards without that lovely lather? We assure you though, your hair will feel wonderful. Fans of Wonder Cleanse & Nourish have told us that their hair feels softer, shinier, and healthier. In fact, plenty of people who’ve been converted to the wonders of co-cleansing even say that they’ll never be able to go back to the old way of washing their hair!

As well as having hair that feels gorgeous, more benefits of switching to a cleansing conditioner are that coloured hair stays brighter for longer, and if you have a dry scalp or dry hair then this should improve too. Plus, you’ll save time in the shower by not having to apply and rinse two separate products. Added bonus: an extra five minutes in bed in the morning!

Does co-cleansing work for everyone?

Hair types vary so much, you’ll need to try co-cleansing for a while to see whether it’s right for you. It might not be, especially if you have a naturally oily scalp or a diagnosed skin condition such as dermatitis. However, if your hair is dry, curly, frizzy, or coloured then co-cleansing could certainly be the way forward.

What do the Percy & Reed experts say?

Our own Paul Percival is a huge fan of conditioning cleansers. He says: “The reason why co-cleansers are beneficial is because they don’t use detergents or SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a common ingredient in shampoos, soaps, and body washes), and therefore won’t strip the hair of natural oils. For anyone who has a sensitive scalp or colour which they think fades too quickly, this is a brilliant alternative.”

Adam Reed also has some great advice on using co-cleansers. Adam says:


“You must totally drench the hair with water first, the wetter the better! When working into your hair, think of how you use your fingertips to make pastry and apply the same technique – massaging like this will release the oils to cleanse and nourish your hair. The high oil content will require you to rinse more than normal, so rinse, rinse and when you think you’re done rinse for another full minute.”


Another top tip from Adam after using Wonder Cleanse & Nourish is to apply a little Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm before blow-drying – the heat will re-activate the oils for a beautifully soft finish.

Have you tried co-cleansing? Did it work for you? Do you think you’ll ever go back to traditional shampoo and conditioner? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Chat to us on Instagram @percyandreed or on Twitter @percyandreed, or leave us a comment on our Facebook Page.