The Lowdown On Cleansing Conditioners: Fab or Fad?

Since the dawn of the modern age, we’ve only ever used one model for cleaning our hair: the traditional ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ method that’s more often than not followed by a rich conditioner. Although there was a surge in popularity of the 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner combi products in the 80’s and 90’s, they were quickly replaced by more targeted haircare that ensured our locks were well looked after. For the first time in decades, however, all that we know about washing and conditioning our barnets is being challenged – thanks to the introduction and sudden popularity of co-washing and cleansing conditioners. So, what exactly are they and why should you be swapping your current favourites for something altogether more simple?

Traditional shampoos use foaming agents called surfactants to lift dirt and grease from the surface of hair, which can then be washed away to leave it squeaky clean. Although theoretically this is great, in practice shampooing hair every day can also remove the moisture and goodness we need to keep it looking and feeling fab. If your hair has a tendency to become overly dry, damaged, dull or frizzy, then stripping and harsh shampoos may be the cause – we only need to refresh our hair and remove product build-up when we shampoo, rather than stripping it of everything altogether. Furthermore, adding a super-charged conditioner can actually weigh fine hair down, causing it to become limp and lifeless. We have a tendency to pile on the conditioners, masques and treatments in order to ‘fix’ our problems, when these can actually cause tremendous issues themselves.

Cleansing conditioners make the whole process a lot simpler, offering one formula that removes time consuming processes from the equation – while simultaneously offering a much lighter product that’s more targeted to daily use. In the simplest of terms, cleansing conditioners are super light conditioning products with a touch of cleansing action for good measure; unlike the traditional 2-in-1 products which are shampoos with a little added conditioner, these offer a much more beneficial and lighter approach. Cleansing conditioners tend to use oil (rather than stripping surfactants,) to lift dirt and residue from the surface of hair, meaning they don’t also take away the nutrients and moisture our hair needs to look and feel great. Their light nature also ensures hair is left feeling nourished, without being heavy or lackluster.

I’ve been putting various cleansing conditioners to the test over the last week or so, and I have to admit I’m totally in love with this new concept. Although the initial hurdle is actually re-training yourself how to clean your hair, once you get to grips with the simplistic nature it really becomes easy peasy. All you have to do is apply a generous amount throughout your head of hair, leave for a few minutes and wash off. Your hair is left feeling healthy, light and full of volume – with no frizziness, coarseness or rough texture. Somehow these little bottles of magic give me happy and lightweight hair with no flyaways, making it so much easier to style and maintain.

Because the cleansing conditioners don’t strip the hair, they make washing every day an option for many; I always avoided washing my hair daily because of the stripping nature, but I’ve been able to wash every day without a problem since using cleansing conditioners. I would suggest using a shampoo and traditional conditioner once or twice a week to remove any build-up (particularly if you suffer with oily hair or use a lot of products – I made it to day four without needing a deeper cleanse,) but all in all these revolutionary new products make hair care an absolute doddle. My personal favourites include Grow Gorgeous , Wen’s Cucumber Aloe and Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme – all three of which provide a lightweight result that leaves hair feeling fab for longer.

This concept is seriously revolutionising the hair market for the first time since hair serums were invented. Nothing has ever challenged the way we wash our hair before, so it’s an exciting time to be part of a revolution. Although I don’t think any of us will ever give up the traditional shampoo and conditioner bottles, cleansing conditioners provide a great middle ground that help keep hair looking and feeling fab. That can never be a bad thing. Will you be checking out cleansing conditioners?



  1. Anonymous
    June 13, 2014 / 2:55 pm

    As someone with very oily hair (more than 1 day without washing and it's a lank mess), I can't see that these products would be even the tiniest bit suitable for me. I'd love to know if they actually recommend these for oily hair. As it stands, I'm still in search of the right shampoo and conditioner combination for my hair. The clarifying ones are terribly harsh, and I have to stay away (hair loss with them is terrible), and I'm left with a small range of 'mild/frequent' shampoos, usually formulated for babies and children, but that don't really do much for the shine and condition of my hair. Almost every conditioner I try, even the 'light' ones and just on the very ends, weigh down my hair so that I'm essentially forced to wash daily, even though I know the repeated washing is damaging my hair more. Bloody awful situation – I long for dry, frizzy hair – given that hair type has a vast range of 'solutions' offered to them by the different hair companies! Any solutions in the new ranges for me?

    • Hayley Carr
      June 13, 2014 / 4:37 pm

      I would definitely give these a go – they work by using oil to attract oil, so they may be better for your hair and not leave it feeling stripped. Try Grow Gorgeous to start with (easier to get hold of and cheaper) and see how you get on… Defo try using it for three days before giving up though as it may take a while to get to grips with your hair.

    • Caramel Latte Kiss
      June 18, 2014 / 8:47 am

      I was about to come and ask the oily hair question too! I'm very careful to only use conditioners through the ends and lengths of my hair, and not the roots. The thought of washing my hair with a conditioning product sounds scary!

  2. Aerie Berrie
    June 14, 2014 / 7:02 am

    I need to try these, I have such damaged hair that even when I get it cut with in a week is damaged xxBerrieBlogs| {beauty blog}

  3. Nicola Wood
    June 14, 2014 / 5:59 pm

    I think I'll wait for the trickle down products to become available. £20 for a shampoo is too much for me!

  4. Anonymous
    June 18, 2014 / 7:28 pm

    I tried the Wen cleansing conditioner and I have very oily hair.. I didn't find it a problem with my hair at all and it didn't make it any worse than any other type of shampoo. I found a problem with one or a mixture of the essential oils in the product… I found I would get spots on my neck after using it so I had to send the product back unfortunately.

  5. Rosie Swaffer
    July 28, 2014 / 7:12 pm

    I am halfway through a bottle of Grow Gorgeous and I'm not getting on with it at all 🙁 Leave rank build up at the back of my head and makes it greasy, no matter how much I rinse x

    • Hayley Carr
      July 28, 2014 / 7:51 pm

      Hmmm, do you mind if I ask how you're using it?

  6. Victoria French
    July 28, 2014 / 8:31 pm

    I've always been skeptical about these but will now try it for a few weeks before my hols!

  7. Anonymous
    August 17, 2014 / 4:24 pm

    I'm torn between the Bumble and Bumble and the Grow Gorgeous…putting price to one side, do you have a preference? The Grow Gorgeous does have one not-so-gentle cleansing agent in it, which I don't love, but then again it does have some nice oils that the Bumble and Bumble lacks…thoughts?

    • Hayley Carr
      August 17, 2014 / 6:10 pm

      I haven't tried the Bumble & Bumble but I did enjoy using Grow Gorgeous. I guess it's up to your personal preference brand wise.

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