Hair Tip for Dry Hair – Skip the Shampoo and Wash With Conditioner Instead

Published in: Beauty Tips, Drugstore Beauty Finds, Hair

Alberto VO5 Tea Therapy Clarifying Conditioner in Vanilla Mint Tea


It’s usually standard operating procedure to wash your hair with shampoo every day. While this may work for many women, it doesn’t work for me because my hair is thick, wavy and dry. No, I don’t walk around with a stinky head of hair a la Pig Pen. I “shampoo” using a cheap drugstore conditioner!


Why Skip Shampoo?
I started skipping shampoo when my hairstylist noticed my hair looked and felt overly dry. She asked what my routine was, and I told her I was coloring my hair, and then on top of that washing and blow drying it straight every day. She suggested skipping a day (even skipping two or three days if I could handle it) between washing and blow drying. That way, my blow out would last longer and I wouldn’t have to subject my hair to the daily abuses of heat styling. Another alternative she mentioned was to skip shampoo entirely a few times a week. She suggested using water to rinse my scalp and hair and then following up with a conditioner.

I did this for a few years until I realized that I hated spending so much time with my hair dryer. If you have thick, long, curly hair and wear it straight, you know it can take from 45-60 minutes to blow it out. If you’re blowing it out at least four times a week that’s four hours spent with your blow dryer! When I had this epiphany I realized, holy crap, all that time I spent fighting to get my hair straight I could’ve been doing other things like learning French or building a better mouse trap.

So about a year ago, I decided to stop fighting nature and embrace my wavy hair. That’s when I learned about the world of conditioner washing.

How to Use Conditioner to Wash Your Hair
I found the Naturally Curly site online and looked up curly hair tips. There were many posts about using conditioner to clean your hair instead of using shampoo, so I decided to try it.

When I’m in the shower I rub conditioner between my palms and then start vigorously washing my scalp with my fingertips, not nails. I add more conditioner to my palms and then wash the rest of my hair in the same manner I’d use shampoo.

My conditioners of choice are cheap drugstore ones – I’ve used Suave Naturals Conditioner in Tropical Coconut and Alberto VO5 Tea Therapy Clarifying Conditioner in Vanilla Mint Tea. I use cheap conditioners because I need to use a lot of the product – about the total of a full palm’s worth – to get my hair clean.

After “shampooing” with the conditioner, I rinse it all out and then follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. Currently I’m using DevaCurl One Condition.

I’ve found this method makes a significant difference in keeping my hair from drying out and leaves it softer and smoother.

Your Hair Will Feel Dirty When Transitioning from Regular Shampoo to Using a Conditioner Wash
If you’re going to start skipping shampoo I have to warn you that at first your hair may feel dirty until you get used to not having lather. It does take time to get used to not having bubbles. You may want to transition by alternating the conditioner wash with your regular shampoo for a few weeks, and then going every two days, then three days, etc., and thus slowly weaning yourself off your shampoo as you get used to the feeling.
Also, if your hair is fine and limp this method may not work for you because the conditioner at the roots may way your hair down.


Working Out When Using a Conditioner Wash
I’ve read that some women on the Naturally Curly website skip shampoo entirely and solely use conditioner to wash their hair. I can’t do this – I work out daily, so my scalp starts to feel gross if I don’t use a lathering shampoo at least once a week. What works for me is to shampoo my hair every day with conditioner, and then use a lathering shampoo every third or fourth time.

Your Shampoo Free Options
If you decide to try decreasing your shampoo use or going shampoo free, here’s a summary of your options:

1. Skip a day between washing and blowing your hair dry, or even try skipping two or three days.

2. Skip shampoo entirely a few times a week and wash your hair with water. Follow up with a conditioner.

3. “Shampoo” with a cheap drugstore conditioner and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner.

For some unknown reason I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. I’m sooooo not a morning person … I love the nightlife, I love to boogie on the disco ’round (oh yeah). As you can tell, waking up pre-dawn on a Saturday morning makes me wacky. But it’s the weekend, so it’s all good. Whatever your plans are, I hope they are fun and involve somebody you love (or at least have a crush on).

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. d says:

    i stumbled into this by chance–i brought (cheap drug store) conditioner with me to india because conditioner isn’t common here so it’s rather expensive, esp for those with long hair. but i never got around to buying shampoo (i moved two months ago) and with just conditioner i’m as happy with the result as i was with shampoo. it’s nice to know that there’s a principle behind it; i kept having the suspicion that something was wrong that i couldn’t detect. (just as one can’t smell one’s own bad breath…). cheers from lucknow.

  2. Lea says:

    thanks for this…i have very brittle hair, but a lot of it-i hate washing it constantly, but feel gross if I skip a day of washing altogether. Hopefully this compromise will help!

  3. veronica says:

    okay so i also do conditioner wash and my hair is shiny and mouisturized, this is a lot to say for my hair type which is wavy/curly and fine. I’ve always ave had split ends. its been a year and ive had to cut my ends every 6 months and before it was every 2 1/2 months….now there are no split ends for almost 6 months…which means more healthy hair growth. i wash my hair every 2 days and thats it!

  4. colette says:

    I have curly hair which frizzes at the mere mention of rain. I started washing my hair with conditioner after a consultation with a hairdresser when I wanted to chemically straighten my hair. When I realised the cost to straighten it plus all the care and products I would need to lavish on my hair, I knew I had to try something else. I found the site for and have been tryng this for a few weeks. My hair smells clean, is softer, doesnt frizz in moist air and hold my blowdry for 3 days. Every 2 weeks i give it a traditional shampoo then its back to drugstore conditioner followed with a salon conditioner. Very cost effective too and far less damaging.

  5. Michele says:

    Karen- you reminded me I sent you the ‘the website ” and I am doing that whole regime this morning. My hair is getting dry from washing it to too much all week,
    Happy Saturday!

  6. Emily Flowers IL says:

    I found your post by chance as well. I was trying to find out what the best drugstore moisturizing/deep/dry hair/repairing conditioner is. I love your post because my hair exactly the same way, It’s long thick and curly. I’ve never even heard of this method but I can’t wait to try it! I tie my hair up loosely w/ a hair tye or large jaw clip after awhile of it being down anyways, so I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem w/ my hair feeling dirty. But I was wondering if tying it up frequently has any other factors when it comes to dry/thick/ curly hair? Also, I always brush it before I get in the shower, and it takes FOREVER to get all the knots out because it’s so curly…is that bad for my hair to do that??

    Emily Flowers

  7. Tanya B says:

    I absolutely love the Made from Earth Peppermint conditioner. So far its my favorite one from all the organic lines I have tried. Made from Earth is completely natural – unlike other brands who may claim to be natural and/or organic (but somehow still manage to sneak the icky chemicals in) – so that alone makes this an awesome product for someone who’s concerned about what their beauty products are made from.

    After a few days of consistent use, my hair is softer and silkier than with any other product I’ve tried. The smell is a little strong, but fades to a nice subdued floral scent after the hair dries. I’ve gotten many compliments on my hair since I’ve gone back to using the Made from Earth conditioner. I’ve spent a few years trying out all the “natural” brands to find the perfect line for my hip length hair…again, of all those supposedly natural brands – Made from Earth seems to be the only one that really is purely natural, and on top of that, has been the best for my hair.

    • my hair is long enough to sit on, curly/wavy with wiry frizzy roots, but because of its length and the years ago chemical straightening on the ends, its not the wild beast one would expect. im becoming interested in more natural hair care (so far my one HG natural product is coconut oil); i would like to find a good smoothing shampoo that is not so chemical laden (my sister does the baking soda/apple cider vinegar thing, which is cool and all but she has straight shoulder length hair, i dont think it would work for me). can you recommend a shampoo/conditioner thats good for dry hair (and doesnt smell like mint, heh)? im obsessed with coconut so id love to find more coconut based and scented products…

  8. Ashley says:

    I. LOVE. YOU.

    I am 17 and my hair makes me stressed. It’s a poof ball. I’ve been fighting with it all my life. No one else in my family has curly hair. My hair makes me feel like the uglyest person ever. I can’t wait to try this out!! I hope my hair works with me before the time I have to go to prom. I’ve bought every hair product in the store. I never thought my hair was a poof because of itbeing dry, but it makes since now. I can’t wait to try this out. I hope this makes my life a lot more happier 🙂

  9. LoveYourDNA says:

    One other alternative is to mix some shampoo with the conditioner. You’ll have to experiment with measurments. I have medium length fine hair. I love VO5 and mix the “Tea’s” together. Works great!

  10. kim anderson says:

    Any ideas of conditioners that have to fragrance? I cannot handle anything with scent, yet my hair is exaclty as described!

  11. Pia Z says:

    I have long and wavy hair. I do not play with my hair a lot and spend very little time on it. The Shielo Hydrate conditioner helps me in that.

    After using Shielo’s conditioner my hair is so manageable that I do not have to blow dry my hair even and they are so soft, smooth and silky all day long, Using this conditioner can reduce your visit to a hair salon so often and you can still look beautiful.

    Its smell is great too and its long lasting. Shielo has different shampoos and conditioners for different hair types and so everyone can find one suiting their hair needs. It also makes the hair less frizzy and what I do is I do not wash it out completely from my hair. I would definitely recommend thsi conditioner to anyone who wants a quick, easy and affordable solution to make theri hair soft, smooth, silky and manageable.

  12. Auna says:

    I’ve been using conditioner as a cleanser for a week now, and I love it. I have natural wavy/curly hair that is frizzy and dry, but oily at the roots. I heard about this from a friend, and then when my mom and I started seeing the commercials for Wen (a cleansing conditioner that costs at least $30 a bottle), I decided to try a basic conditioner. I use the VO5 Clarifying Conditioner as my cleanser, and a more expensive, thicker conditioner to leave on after. It is amazing how much easier it is to comb through my hair, and how soft and less frizzy it’s been getting. I got my mom to try it, and the last I heard, she liked it, too. So thanks!

  13. Sonya P says:

    I have bleach blonde hair. Very damage by the way. I so far been on only Conditioner wash for a month and i gotta say i love the results.

  14. Girly Girl says:

    I have been co-washing for about a month and i LOVE it! I have not used shampoo at all in that time. My hair is long, thin and wavy. I actually have more curl now than I did with expensive shampoo, conditioners and styling products. At first I had to co-wash every day because I do have somewhat oily hair. After 24 hrs my hair looked like it hadnt been washed in 2 days. But now that I’ve been doing it for a month, I can actually co-wash every other day. I dont use any styling products either. When I wear it curly I just put a pea size drop of the same cheap conditioner and scrunch. One thing I learned from another website was to not use a towel to scrunch because it will make your hair frizzy. I have been using an old t-shirt b/c cotton is supposed to be better. I am one who absolutely hates frizzy hair, and I dont have that problem at all anymore. My hair has never been so soft!

  15. cassidy says:

    My boyfriend has long really frizzy dry thick hair. We’ve been searching for something to help and even have tried mane and tail.. a horse shampoo and that hasn’t worked. We are gonna try this. Hope it works!!!(:

  16. Melissa says:

    My hair is thick and curly and the best product I’ve used to take care of dryness is Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner, my hair is hydrated and healthy now 🙂

  17. Jemmy says:

    I use shampoo on my scalp only, and conditioner on the rest, rinse, followed by coconut oil. note:. It can feel greasy when wet but when dry, it’s soft, moisturized, thicker. And cheap cheap cheap!

  18. mary says:

    I never thought about skipping shampoo altogether! This was very interesting, thanks. I use a sulfate free shampoo from pro naturals and I don’t think I need anything else! Their conditioner is awesome too.

  19. mimzlipz says:

    I have long wavy hair, which tends to be dry at the ends and a bit oily at scalp. Try Shielo’s Hydrate or Smoothing Conditioners – they smell good without being over-powering, and give a level of moisture that is neither too light or too heavy for me. Anyone interested in more organic hair products should give these a try.

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