All About the Conditioner – the Conditioner Only Method

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As our second hair washing method, we have been trying out the conditioner only (CO) method. CO is exactly what it sounds like – cut out the shampoo and use only conditioner. This is quite a common shampoo-free method and is said to work especially well on curly hair, as it fights frizz.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Conditioners, as well as shampoos, contain detergents, and will thus wash your hair. But conditioners use different kinds of detergents than shampoos (that often use Sodium laureth sulfate), which are milder and thus not as drying and damaging. Since the conditioners are so mild, you can use this method as much as you like, every day or just a couple of times a week.

WHAT DO YOU NEED You will need a conditioner, preferably one free from proteins, silicones and mineral oil. Surprisingly, the cheapest ones are usually free from these things (also since you’re going to use a lot of conditioner you really don’t want to spend much money).
If you’re interested in knowing if your conditioner is ok to use, contact me (I’ll need the ingredient list, of course)! But let me point out that it’s not a horrible sin if you use silicone or other things in your CO wash. Many people use it and love it. You will need to clarify a bit more often though (we’ll get to that later).
Some brands that are available in Finland are: X-tra conditioner, Rainbow normal conditioner, Erittäin hieno conditioner (just the white bottle), most of Herbinas conditioners. In the US, many use Suave or VO5 – the European VO5 has different ingredients though, it’s not cone free, which I realized after having bought one.
A medium thick conditioner is the best, I find. The Erittäin hieno is way too runny, but works great if you mix a bit of for instance Erittäin hieno and X-tra (or if you have an expensive conditioner and you want to dilute it with something cheaper). Herbina had the best thickness, in my opinion.


  • Massage the conditioner into wet hair. You’re going to use a lot of conditioner, so that your hair feels really slimy and so that you’re sure to have every strand of hair covered in conditioner. If you like, you can massage your scalp for a bit. I sometimes use this kind of hair massager to distribute the conditioner evenly, and massage the scalp at the same time.
  • Then leave it to work for at least 15 minutes. The longer, the better, really. I sometimes wet my hair and apply the conditioner a while before taking a shower, to let it do it’s magic.
  • Rinse out thoroughly. If you can take it, finish of with a cold or at least lukewarm shower, to allow the hair sacks to close up.

At least every 6 months, you will need to do a clarifying wash. This is especially important if you use a conditioner with silicones or proteins, because they cause a build-up around the strands, which the clarifying will prevent. Just do a normal shampoo wash with a silicone, protein free shampoo. Or you can do a baking soda rinse, which has the same effect.


We tried out a few different types of conditioners. A few of them had silicones in them, but I didn’t feel any much difference straight away (one wash won’t cause any build-up any way). I found that this method suited me really well, my hair looked shiny and was easy to manage. L’s hair didn’t like it as much, it was a bit all over the place.
The best conditioner, for me, was the Herbina MarjaSpa conditioner. It made my hair super-shiny and soft and lovely. It smelled strongly of strawberries, a bit too sweet for me even, but at least it’s a real strawberry smell, the conditioner contains strawberry seed extract as it’s fourth ingredient. Also the only conditioner made in Finland out of the ones I tried.


Cost: Depends on the conditioner. But you can get good results even (or especially) with the cheapest conditioner. Minimum (in Finland probably the X-tra Conditioner) would be around 2€/month

Difficulty: No preparation, but needs to work for at least 15-20 minutes. If one takes the time to massage the conditioner into the hair the effects will be greater. Needs to be rinsed very thoroughly.

Cleanness: Clean, shiny, soft hair, stays nice for a couple of days. 

Manageability: Depends a lot on the conditioner, but overall feeling was soft and manageable hair for me. L’s hair was a bit more unruly though.   

Overall: This is a method that seems to suit my hair very well. Since I am a quick showerer, I sometimes found it tedious to have to wait for the conditioner to have it’s effect. But I really liked how it made my hair look.    

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