Sweet editors conducted a test of some of the best co-washes on the market. Now, we bring you the results!
For Parched, Curly Hair
Chanel Parks, assistant editor, @chanelinezp
Hair Situation: Tightly coiled and drier than the Sahara.
The Application: The directions recommend applying eight pumps of product, but since I have a short crop I decide to use half that amount. I rub it around in my curls, making sure I saturate all of my hair. The wash is smooth but not runny, which is great, because I hate formulas that slip through my fingers right into the drain. I skip the suggested repeat step because again: I have short hair. Once I'm out of the shower I wrap my head in an old, soft T-shirt, which is the best way to dry curly hair, really.
The Results: I typically add essential oils and styling products while my hair is still damp, but this time I get sidetracked by watching my Snapchat feed and Facetiming my sister. When I eventually take off the T-shirt and run my hands through my hair, I find that, to my amazement, my strands aren't rough—they're really, really soft. I immediately go to my vanity mirror and my curls appear to be—dare I say it?—sleek.
The Verdict: Honestly, I was not expecting any of this to happen. Of course I'm going to use this again. It will be my Wednesday-night staple, but I will still use a deep conditioner every other week, just to keep my curls in check. Another bonus is that Briogeo is committed to making products that are cruelty-free and devoid of sulfates, parabens, and all that bad stuff.
For Chemically-Treated Hair
Mallory Rice, deputy editor, @mallory-rice
Hair Situation: Color-treated and wavy.
The Application: Yes, this cleansing conditioner has cool packaging that merits prominent placement in your bathroom, but it has more going for it than mere looks: the formula is a light-as-air foam, which smells like an expensive salon. When you apply it to your hair, the consistency stays the same, instead of bubbling up—that's how you know it's not a cheap, soapy product that's ravaging your hair while it pretends to clean it.
The Results: Full disclosure: This isn't my first time at the rodeo. I am big, big fan of this stuff! I originally came to it because, while I am aware that I shouldn't wash my hair every day, I can't fully wake up unless I do, so I've worked this into my regimen on a couple-times-a-week basis to offset the drying effects of regular shampoo. This time, like every time, it leaves my hair with a soft, day-after-wash feel, which primes it nicely for blow-drying straight or letting it air dry, a little wildly.
The Verdict: This product is on my permanent roster, for sure. And by the way: it's safe for use with keratin-treated hair, so your smooth strands will stay that way!
For Thick Hair
Natalia Tyndall, administrative assistant, @tallylabella
Hair Situation: Super, super thick and curly. Always dry and doesn't absorb product well.
The Application: I love the way my hair feels when using this—the best part is that it defines my curls even in the shower. I have a lot of hair, which means I have to use a ton of product. The scent is pretty strong, which is fine, but unexpected.
The Results: Post using the co-wash, I'm pleasantly surprised at the state of my hair throughout the day. Usually I agonize about how dry it becomes, but this time it felt thoroughly moisturized. I'm shocked, and I can't keep my hands out of my hair. I'm nervous to use this co-wash without the help of any additional styling products or oils but it actually handles everything.
The Verdict: I will definitely use this again; anything that gets my dry hair to stay moisturized for more than a few hours is a keeper. It's also nice to not have to weigh my hair down with a ton of products, so this is a good option when I feel it needs a break.
For a Dry Scalp
Molly Elizalde, associate editor, @mollyelizalde
Hair Situation: Thick with a forever-dry scalp. Sheds a lot.
The Application: This product has a thicker consistency than most washes, so I need to use quite a bit to get the same amount of coverage on my scalp and hair as with a normal shampoo. But once it's applied, it feels almost like a hair mask would—moisturizing and weighty in a good way. I can't really feel anything happening, but I like the idea that it's working magic for the five minutes before I wash it out.
The Results: I've always liked the idea of products with the word "milk" in the title, probably just because it sounds nourishing. This co-wash certainly moisturizes my scalp—even after a few days without washing I notice a difference. It also leaves my hair with more volume over several days (which is not something I'm in need of, but if you are, this could be the product for you!).
The Verdict: I like the moisturizing aspect of the wash and will definitely finish the bottle. But I probably wouldn't buy it again simply because I don't need that extra volume.
For Ultra Wavy Hair
Stefan Marolachakis, senior editor, @stefanmymind
Hair Situation: Wavy, just on the brink of curly.
The Application: I must confess: nothing shocking happened during this part of the process. The texture is pretty similar to that of a conditioner—maybe a bit lighter?—and the scent is pleasingly subtle.
The Results: Whenever I grow my hair out—which is never actually much of a decision, more a result of forgetfulness—I fall into this semi-deplorable habit of constantly running my fingers through it. This product only encouraged me to do so even more, because it made my hair a whole lot softer. At the same time, it seemed to keep it from becoming the mane it too often wants to become, reining it in ever so graciously.
The Verdict: Any product that pushes my hair further away from Yahoo Serious and closer to Jon Snow is one worth using. Bumble and Bumble does right by me once again.
For Dry Wavy Hair
Chantal Strasburger, assistant editor, @chantagold
Hair Situation: Wavy and prone to dry ends.
The Application: Bubbles and shampoo typically go hand-in-hand, so a lather-free alternative is a little strange to get used to. First I'm doubting whether it's even doing anything—where is the sudsy proof?!—and then I'm forgetting whether or not I just shampooed or conditioned my hair, and which step comes next. (There are no more steps.) It's definitely a concept that takes a minute to wrap your head around.
The Results: I love the way my hair immediately feels softer when I rinse out the cleansing cream; it feels better than the slightly rough texture shampoo typically leaves behind. Once dry, my hair feels more nourished and conditioned than usual, and noticeably less frizzy post-air dry.
The Verdict: Two thumbs up! Really, the bottle alone does it for me. The sophisticated packaging has that Aesop soap-effect where just owning it makes me feel 100 percent more sophisticated. I may keep it in my shower even after it's finished just for aesthetic appeal...TBD.
Here are some other great formulas you should consider!