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Two New Co-Wash Products Want You to Ditch the Lather

By Wendy Rodewald-Sulz / January 27, 2015

It was only a couple years ago that I stopped using frothy face wash and replaced it with a non-foaming cleanser, but now I’ll never go back. Those bubbly formulas I used to think were deep cleaning my pores? They were actually stripping my skin’s moisture, and ever since I’ve sworn them off, my complexion has been more even-toned and breakouts have been fewer and farther between. Foamy formulas, as it turns out, are not so gentle on skin.
Lately I’ve begun to wonder, what if the luxurious lather I’ve been working up every other day with my shampoo is doing similarly terrible things to my hair? Have I been sudsing away my color and drying out my strands and scalp? Is there a better way?
According to two hair companies that have launched new co-wash lines lately, there is. Co-washing, for the uninitiated, is essentially the practice of washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. It’s not a new thing; curly- and natural-haired communities have been talking about co-washing on the internet forever. Wen, the as-seen-on-TV haircare line started by Chaz Dean, is a co-wash product. So is DevaCurl’s notoriously named No-Poo hair cleanser.
Even though the idea isn’t new, the technology behind co-washing has been evolving. High-tech hair startup Living Proof has just debuted its first entry into the category, the new Curl Conditioning Wash ($26), which is targeted to curly types specificially. The wash features the brand’s patented “healthy hair molecule”, OFPMA, and replaces stripping sulfates with two types of natural cleansers derived from plants and from sugars. When used with the styling products in the Curl line, Living Proof promises the regimen will help curls stay defined and frizz-free twice as long as they would without the products.
Another new co-wash line, Unwash, promises to cleanse hair in a “more civilized” way. (I mean, who wants their hair to be barbaric?) The brand’s Bio-Cleansing Conditioner ($36 at salons) contains a blend of natural oils — like coconut — to cleanse hair based on the “like dissolves like” principle. If you’ve ever Googled oil cleansing, you’ll know what I’m talking about, but essentially the oils in the co-wash rinse away the sebum that makes your hair and scalp feel greasy. 
Unlike the one-size-fits-all co-washes of the past, both lines let you customize your regimen with add-on products. Need more moisture? Follow your cleansing step with Unwash’s Hydrating Mask ($34) or Living Proof’s Curl Detangling Rinse ($26). Need to wash away product buildup? Cleanse with Unwash’s Anti-Residue Rinse ($32), a sort of gentle, co-wash answer to clarifying shampoo.
So far, it’s been a bit of an adjustment to get used to a non-lathering rinse, but I have a feeling my curls and my color will appreciate the switch as much as my complexion has.