Co-washing is having a moment, and if you’ve been reading up on the trend, you’ve likely found yourself wondering — what are the best cleansing conditioners for women over 50? With more and more options readily available each day, it’s clear to see co-washing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s break down the co-washing movement. So, what is co-washing and why should you be doing it?
What is co-washing, and how does it work?
What exactly is co-washing? Co-washing is short for “conditioner-only washing” and it involves using a special kind of cleanser called a cleansing conditioner. Now, I know your next question is probably going to be, “Can you co-wash with regular conditioner?” The answer is no. In fact, there’s actually a big difference between your everyday conditioner and a cleansing conditioner — and it all lies with how they get your hair clean.
You see, a normal hair cleansing routine consists of the two-step method we all know: using a shampoo to clean the hair and then following it up with a conditioner to rehydrate and soften. What most people fail to realize is that, unless you pick up a sulfate-free shampoo, your shampoo is loaded with sulfates (detergents) that will not only clean your hair, they’ll strip it of its natural oils, drying it out in the process. Cleansing conditioners, on the other hand, are generally sulfate-free and, as a result, don’t lather like regular shampoos, leading to clean hair without the stripping factor. So how do cleansing conditioners get your hair clean? Where shampoos use detergents, cleansing conditioners use emollients to mildly cleanse, avoiding any stripping or damaging effects to your hair, keeping it healthy and strong.
Who should use cleansing conditioners?
While cleansing conditioners can be used on all hair types, there are a couple in particular that will notice a significant benefit to swapping out their everyday shampoo and conditioners. First and foremost, if your hair is curly, you’ll love co-washing. Curly hair is naturally more porous and tends to be much drier; this will usually present itself in the form of frizzy curls and brittle ends. By using a cleansing conditioner, you’ll be able to wash your hair while retaining all the moisture you can, leaving your curls healthier than ever. And the same thing goes for those with coarse or dry hair. Since cleansing conditioners don’t strip your hair as they clean it, you’ll notice your texture and dryness improve in no time.
But what about those of us on the other side of the spectrum? Surely these super hydrating conditioners couldn’t work on fine, thin, or oily hair without weighing it down! Quite the contrary — cleansing conditioners are just as great for fine hair as they are for thick hair. Those with fine, thin, or oily hair tend to wash their hair more frequently which over time, leads to dryness, an over production of oil, and a continuation of a vicious cycle. But with a cleansing conditioner, you have a way to continue washing your hair with the same frequency while forgoing an unintended dryness.
How to Use a Cleansing Conditioner
While co-washing is fairly straightforward, there are a couple steps you should take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your cleansing conditioners. Here’s how to properly use a cleansing conditioner in five easy steps.
1. Wet and rinse your hair. Before applying your cleansing conditioner, it’s important to thoroughly wet your hair. This will give your hair a preliminary rinse of whatever oils you have built up and open the cuticles of your hair, allowing for better absorption of the product.
2. Separate your hair into four sections. Since cleansing conditioners don’t lather like regular shampoos, it’s especially important to ensure that your scalp gets the proper amount of cleansing with each wash. To make this easier, divide your hair into four sections with a rat tail comb and clip away for the next step.
3. Massage the cleansing conditioner into your scalp. Starting one at a time, apply a small amount of product to each section, paying special attention to really work the product into the scalp. This is where the majority of the dirt and oil lives, so this is where you should focus the brunt of the product. The amount of product you apply will vary depending on your hair type and thickness, but as long as your scalp is properly saturated, you’re doing great!
4. Comb the conditioner through your hair. This is the most important step. Once your scalp has been properly treated, use a wide-toothed comb to evenly distribute the remaining conditioner. This will help clean and hydrate the rest of your hair. Let it sit for at least five minutes.
5. Rinse out the conditioner with lukewarm water. Now that your hair and scalp have been properly cleansed and nourished, it’s important to keep it that way. To do so, always rinse out cleansing conditioner with lukewarm water, never hot water. This will ensure you remove any excess conditioner without drying out the hair and scalp you just worked so hard on hydrating.
The Best Cleansing Conditioners for Women Over 50
If you’re over 50 and looking to hydrate and transform your hair, jumping on the co-washing bandwagon might just be the best thing you do for it. Ready to start you co-washing journey? We rounded up the best products that are all sulfate-free for the healthiest hair around. Keep scrolling to learn more about the best cleansing conditioners for women over 50!
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Women Over 50 Unwash
1. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Women Over 50
For women over 50, the key to finding a great cleansing conditioner is to find one that can check off all of the boxes, and Unwash's Bio-Cleansing Conditioner Hair Cleanser does just that. Deeply cleansing? Check. Non-stripping? Check. Intensely hydrating? Check. Color-safe? Check. But how does it do it? Thanks to its unique formula, rich in cationic cleansers, organic evening primrose oil, and hydrolyzed keratin, this cleansing conditioner is able remove any and all impurities while nourishing your hair for soft, voluminous, and frizz-free locks you'll love.
Where to buy: $49, Amazon
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Thinning Hair
2. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Thinning Hair
One of the biggest issues facing women over 50 is how to regrow thinning hair. Whether it's from excessive chemical processing, hormonal changes, or simply aging, hair loss is no fun. To help preserve your hair and make sure it remains its healthiest, reach for this cleansing conditioner from Grow Gorgeous. Designed to reinforce hair to prevent further loss, this rich conditioner is gentle enough to use every day, making it a dream for women with thin hair who can't bear to go long between washes. And with its blend of Abyssinia seed and panthenol, alongside its trademark Conditioning Complex, you can rest assured knowing your hair will be deeply cleansed and nourished at the same time.
Where to buy: $17.99, Ulta
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Natural Hair
3. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Natural Hair
The tighter the curls, the harder to hydrate — it's something those of us who choose to go natural know all too well. Help keep your corkscrew curls healthy and manageable with As I Am's Coconut Co-wash cleansing conditioner. A staple in most natural-haired women's cabinets, this creamy cleansing conditioner is formulated with tangerine, castor, and coconut oil for a deeply penetrating and hydrating clean you won't find anywhere else. Best of all, it's also a great de-tangler, meaning less damage with greater care.
Where to buy: $7.97, Amazon
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Fine Hair
4. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Fine Hair
It's no secret that many women with fine hair have a bit of trouble finding a good cleansing conditioner for fine hair. With many of these formulas being rich and designed to provide intense hydration to thicker hair, it's easy to see why some women would worry about being weighed down. Fortunately, R+Co has just the solution — their Analog Cleansing Foam Conditioner. Dispensing much like a shaving cream, this foam cleanser uses argan oil and nettle-leaf extract to strengthen and smooth while sulfate-free foaming agents get to the root to keep it squeaky clean. This cleanser works so well, it's quickly gaining a cult following, especially among fine-haired ladies.
One customer raved about the product saying, "I'm pretty much obsessed with this stuff. It's the first cleansing conditioner type product that I used and I haven't looked back to traditional shampoo + conditioner since. My hair is very fine, has little to no volume and is prone to greasiness. I assumed that this type of product would weigh my hair down making it look more greasy and limp. When I use regular shampoo + conditioner, I have to wash every day, but with this stuff, I can join the mythical every other day club that I always heard about."
Where to buy: $30, Amazon
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Wavy Hair
5. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Wavy Hair
For anyone whose hair falls somewhere between curly and straight, this one's for you. One of the biggest struggles with wavy hair is finding a product that can define those loose curls without weighing them down. Luckily, Davines has created the perfect product for wavy and curly-haired girls alike with their Curl Cleansing Cream. Designed to leave hair soft, shiny, and defined, with just a small amount of cleanser, your waves will look healthy, nourished, and incredible. And with the delicious citrus and green notes Davines' Love line is famous for, you'll find yourself loving your scent almost as much as your look.
Where to buy: $48, Amazon
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Curly Hair
6. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Curly Hair
If there's one cleansing conditioner you've likely already heard of this list, it's DevaCurl's "No Poo" cleansing conditioner. A dream for curly girls, this cleanser is the first cleansing conditioner to become a household name and reach cult status. Made with peppermint and grapeseed oil, this moisturizing formula cleans the scalp without stripping your hair of any of the natural oils that are so vital to curly hair types. If you want soft, frizz-free, and manageable curls without any damage in the process, there's no other way to go than DevaCurl.
Where to buy: $22, Ulta
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Dry Hair
7. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Dry Hair
Dry hair is an inevitable part of life. Whether it comes from heat damage or the loss in oil production that naturally occurs as we age, putting that moisture back with each wash is vital to maintaining a healthy head of hair. For the sud-free, detangling, deep conditioning solution to your dry hair, look no further than Sashapure's Re-hydrating Cleansing Conditioner. This conditioner isn't like most as it's a superfood cleansing conditioner, infused with organic sacha-inchi oil. An omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 wonder, sacha-inchi provides an extra layer of nourishment for clean, healthy, and hydrated hair.
Where to buy: $9.99, Amazon
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Damaged Hair
8. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Damaged Hair
We've all been there. Adventurous moments turn into bleach-blonde decisions we wish we could take back. But fear not! If damaged hair has taken a toll on you, it no longer has to, thanks to Matrix Biolage's iconic Cleansing Conditioner for Damaged Hair. Ultra gentle and infused with nourishing mango seed oil and Matrix's reparative ceramide complex, this cleansing conditioner leaves even the most damaged hair clean, moisturized, and silky smooth after just one wash.
Where to buy: $16.85, Amazon
Best Cleansing Conditioner For Color Treated Hair
9. Best Cleansing Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair
If you dye your hair, you know the importance of making sure whatever you wash your hair with is also color-safe. So, if you're looking for a cleansing conditioner that will gently clean your hair while forcefully keeping your color vibrant, you're going to love Theorie's Sea Kelp & Mint cleansing conditioner. Made with vitamin-rich sea kelp and mint, this conditioner cleans hair while reinforcing it with vitamins and minerals for soft, strong and vivid hair.
Where to buy: $24, Amazon