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I Tried It… Cleansing Conditioner



Okay, so that was a tad dramatic. But if you struggle with un-combable, tangled hair every single time you get out of the shower (no matter how much conditioner you slap on), I’ve found a solution that’ll make you want to sing its praises from the mountain tops.

We’re taking a break from cooking this week because I’m so excited and couldn’t wait to share this with you. Girlfriends of all hair types, let me introduce you to my new BFF: Cleansing Conditioner.

Herbal essences color me happy cleansing conditioner
Product Info


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard about the “no shampoo” hair care method, whose subscribers are nothing short of fanatic. I’ve read countless blog posts and reviews from girls swearing that since they’ve ditched shampoo, their hair has been softer, fuller, and stronger than it’s been their entire lives. We’ve all seen those Wen infomercials, and have even talked about “no ‘poo” methods on CF before.

Although not shampooing one’s hair has garnered rave reviews, it was never something I considered. The struggles I’ve had with my thin hair have been well documented, and I’ve even gone as far as trying tape-in hair extensions to combat my thin, lifeless locks. Not washing the grime and product out of my hair seemed pretty counter-intuitive. Plus, I mean, no shampoo? Let’s be honest girlfriends – the concept of not washing your hair sounds kinda gross.

Woman washing hair
Photo: ELLE

It turns out that perhaps the “No ‘Poo” method was just a victim of questionable marketing. Had it caught on as the “No Lather” method or “Conditioner Washing,” I think the number of people who embraced it would have increased exponentially. You see, not shampooing you hair doesn’t mean you’re not washing it. Most conditioners on the market have cleansing agents in them, so with a bit of friction, your hair will be just as squeaky clean as it is after a shampoo.

About Cleansing Conditioner

With spring break on the horizon, the last month or so I’ve been hitting the gym hard. I also moved out of my apartment and into a house, and I can tell that the shower water here is harsher than it was at my apartment. Plus, I recently got highlights. The combination of my hair’s new chemical balance plus the frequency at which I was washing my sweaty hair left me with a tangled, matted, frizzy disaster after every shower.

To remedy this, I tried everything. I brushed my hair really well before taking showers. I slathered my hair with a borderline comical amount of conditioner. I tried several different de-tanglers and leave-in conditioners, but none of them seemed to make much of a difference. Even when I combed my wet hair super gently after I showered, I’d still lose countless strands and it took quite a bit of time. Needless to say, I was pretty much at my wit’s end.

Shampoo aisle
Photo Credit

Then, I found myself at Walmart browsing the aisles, hoping and praying for a miracle solution. Well, the hair and beauty gods heard my desperate cry and all but shoved a bottle of Herbal Essences Color Me Happy Cleansing Conditioner in my face.

This product was made as a supplement to Herbal Essences’ Color Me Happy line, which also includes a regular shampoo and conditioner, formulated to preserve pigments in color-treated hair. The Cleansing Conditioner is pitched as a supplement — something to use every other wash, in between shampoos. It was only $5, so I figured I’d give it a try.

Conditioner bottles
Photo Credit

Now, I’m aware that I probably fell sucker to a great marketing ploy. You don’t need a special “cleansing conditioner” to get these same results. Most conditioners – given that they’re not extremely oily in composition – will work in this application. I just really like this particular product because it builds a nice bridge into sulfate-free cleansing that is easy and inexpensive to try. Sure, it’s shampoo-free, but the leap isn’t quite as scary.

The conditioner comes in a pump bottle, so I loaded my hands up with 5-6 squirts and worked it into my scalp as if it were shampoo. Of course it didn’t lather, but that was expected. Not going to lie, at this point I was still pretty skeptical. I worked the conditioner through the ends of my hair, combed my fingers through it a few times, then let it set for a couple minutes as I washed my body. I rinsed the conditioner out just like normal, then washed my face and shaved my legs before getting out of the shower.

The Results?

Girl brushing hair
Photo: ELLE

To be honest, I’m still in awe at how easy my hair was to de-tangle, and the overall change in texture. I couldn’t believe the difference! The usual 10 minute task of fighting my tangles and yanking away at countless knots was reduced to running a comb through my entire head of hair with hardly any resistance.

I blow dried my hair as usual, and my hair looked and felt clean, voluminous, and bouncy. I was shocked: since my hair was so easy to brush through, I expected it to feel or look a little greasy or weighed-down once dry. It didn’t in the slightest, though. Instead, my hair looked just as clean and light as it did using shampoo.

When I bought the cleansing conditioner, I bought the shampoo and conditioner in the line, too – but it’s been weeks and I’ve barely used them. If you go a few days without washing your hair, shampooing out the grease and grime is a fine idea, but for everyday exercising and freshening up, the cleansing conditioner is all I need. 

Less than a month ago, I thought skipping shampoo was just for girls with very course or curly hair. Now, I can’t imagine going back to shampooing daily. I’ve tried the “No ‘Poo” method, and I’m a believer. I love it so much that I want everyone that I know to give it a try!


Are you a No ‘Poo girl? Are you (like me) curious but afraid to try? Do you experience intolerably tangled hair after you shower? What methods have you tried? Let’s talk about hair, girls – spill your secrets!

Posted on on February 27, 2014 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , ,

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12 Responses to “I Tried It… Cleansing Conditioner”

  1. 1
    February 27th, 2014 at 11:07 am

    This totally works for some people, but one thing to keep in mind is what kind of silicone ingredients are in your conditioner of choice and what kind of silicone ingredients are in your other styling products. Some are volatile (they’ll float off on their own) or will wash off easily with water, but there are varieties that will stick to hair and won’t come out without a strong detergent like those in most commercial shampoos, and others that will not only stick to hair, but stick to themselves and build up over time. If you have sources of these, you probably need a regular shampoo or at least occasional clarifying shampoo. And if you *had* sources of these before switching, one last wash with a strong shampoo is probably a good idea before you switch.

    Personally, my hair looks ridiculous when I do this, but I did switch to a gentler shampoo (with weaker detergents) and that works nicely.

  2. 2
    February 27th, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for your post! I never woul’ve heard of an herbal essence cleansing conditioner. Just one thing though: You were at one point washing your hair daily and then switched to this? Or were you going a few days between washing already?

  3. 3
    February 27th, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Well, replacing shampoo with drugstore conditioner or any sort of hybrid hair product is not exactly my idea of going no poo, but I’ll tell you how I go about managing my hair to avoid tangling and dryness in general.
    At least twice a week, I put almond oil on my hair and let it sit for an hour before I wash it. This does a great job in preventing breakage and split ends. If I somehow skip on this for too long and my hair getting dry and messy, I pour milk, or spray milk/water mixture on my hair the same way as with the almond oil.
    These methods have really done wonders for me, they are kinda DIYish while not requiring too much effort and I wish I discovered them sooner.
    Hope I’ve been of help, ladies! Have an awesome day!

  4. 4
    February 27th, 2014 at 11:50 am


    I used to wash my hair 3 times a week and it was a mess after washing, but then I started exercising a lot and was washing my hair 5-6 times a week and it became a complete disaster! Now that I have this, I only shampoo once or twice a week and use cleansing conditioner the other 3-4 times

  5. 5
    February 27th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Would this work for thick hair? I have thick hair and I recently switched to a sulfate-free shampoo after reading up on how bad sulfates can be for your hair. My problem is that my hair is never really soft or shiny. But you said in the beginning that you recommend this product for all girls. Should I give it a go?

  6. 6
    February 27th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Hey @Katie,

    I’d give it a try–the worse thing that can happen is you’re out $5 and you have to take another shower if you blow dry and aren’t happy. Why not take a chance?

    Let us know what your results are!

  7. 7
    February 27th, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I tried Wen and it was great at first. Unfortunately, it made my (super) thick, wavy hair limp and almost greasy looking. Anyone else have these results too?

  8. 8
    February 27th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Whoa, I have this exact product right now and I’ve just been using it as a regular conditioner. I’ve got to try this!

  9. 9
    February 27th, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I used to not believe all this no ‘poo I thought it has to get greasy or smelly. Due to an unfortunate dying incident(my hair’s not fried just the wrong color) my friend told me to sleep with conditioner in my hair and wash it out the next morning to strengthen my hair cuticle to prep my hair for the next dying round. So I did it and it wasn’t until 4 days later I realized I hadn’t actually shampooed my hair. Now my hair is a kind of pixie cut so I do use a lot of product when styling & I do feel that when I do use enough product I do need to shampoo my hair to get it out but on a regular basis I think I’m going to stick to the conditioner routine

  10. 10
    February 28th, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Yep I’ve been cowashing my hair for years. Putting coconut oil in you hair before you cowashing helps with moisture and detangling knots too.
    Xoxo tiffany

  11. 11
    March 8th, 2014 at 3:04 am

    I have to say I read this post and immediately went out and bought it. However, I am disappointed with the results. After reading these comments, I suppose silicone ingredients are all sticking to each other. My hair is greasy and I don’t notice much of a difference. I probably will not try another cleansing conditioner. Hope other people have better luck!

  12. 12
    March 26th, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I went out and bought this and decided to give it a go. It’s been a month, so I figured I’d share my results!

    I have naturally curly hair, but I had started to notice that it was more frizzy and thin before hand. I started trying this and its definitely made my hair softer and my curls more defined. My only problem was that it actually dried out my hair. I went out and bought Herbal Essences moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, which I use twice a week, and it has made a HUGE difference. I wish I had found this earlier!

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