Co-wash sounds like fun...but beware

September 06, 2022

Co-wash sounds like fun...but beware

Enjoying bath times together..... A neighbourly way to keep clean in the hot tub.....

I came across the word ‘co-wash’ in an article on haircare. It’s the latest buzzword for the reincarnation of 2 in 1. A conditioner and cleanser in the same bottle of which Wash & Go was the mainstream originator. It was the world number one selling shampoo in the 1980s with £billions in sales, and cringey but very effective commercials.

I remember it well because some years in, whispers in the professional circuit raised concerns about it making hair thinner. Clients talked about losing hair. It got so bad that word must have reached Proctor & Gamble, its owners, and one day I took a call at reception from a representative at P&G.

I was questioned on why these rumours were being spread and I simply explained what clients were telling us and what we were seeing. I heard nothing more, and within a few years the brand disappeared from sale. Exit Vidal Sassoon Wash & Go. Enter P&G’s new acquisition, Pantene Pro V, a different 2-in-1 which they marketed into another $billion brand.
I’ve been around a long time. I crave freshness and change. But novelty alone doesn’t get me excited. We’ve seen too many products come and go. They don’t survive long on just newness and hype. New technology fascinates me too, but my heart leans to old school, and new fads are generally guilty until proven innocent. I’m rarely the earliest adopter unless I’ve thoroughly checked it out for myself.

So when someone eagerly told me about a supposedly ‘unique’ 2 in 1 product many years ago called Wen, I did stifle a metaphorical yawn. It was launched with a huge LA celebrity and TV budget, and based on 2-in-1, co-wash, or no-‘poo, (no shampoo).

In America, pharmaceutical companies are obliged to report to the FDA if they receive more than 100 complaints about a product. There is no similar law for the cosmetics industry. So when the FDA was finally forced to investigate following direct complaints about hair loss from consumers using Wen products, they discovered the company was sitting on 21,000 complaints about hair loss and thinning hair.

A federal judge in Los Angeles preliminarily approved a £21.1 million law suit settlement against the Wen product range and its distributor Guthy-Renker. The case comes after 200 women across 40 states in the US launched legal action, alleging the cleansing conditioner had resulted in side effects including hair loss, hair breakage, rashes and scalp irritation.

Attorney Amy Davis said: 'What we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss, is that it contains virtually no cleanser. It's like using lotion to wash your hair. So instead of removing the product when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle.'

Commenting on this recently in the Telegraph, Gail Federici told a journalist that it’s probably best to use separate shampoos and conditioners and that you especially don’t want silicones on there as they can seep down and build up on the follicles which could lead to blockages and hair loss. A bit like the Pope saying religion isn’t good for you, when coming from the woman who made siliconised haircare mainstream in the 1990s with frizz-ease.

I’ve never been convinced by 2 in 1. It seems in plain conflict. The conditioning ingredients in the same cleanser bottle need to resist being washed straight out. So they are often nasty silicones and plasticizers that stick and build up on the hairshaft and worse, onto the scalp – sinking down into the hair follicle and causing build up and blockages.

This is my own interpretation of why these products can cause issues. Massaging these types of synthetic ingredients deep into the scalp can lead to problems with the hair follicle. And why it’s better to use a separate quality shampoo that’s chosen for hair type at the roots or scalp, and a separate conditioner chosen for the hair texture around the middle and ends. How to Choose the Right Shampoo. And better still, always use the best silicone-free products.

No harmful silicones clogging your
pores or drying out your hair


We were first to highlight the dangers of hydrophobic silicones in haircare and have been promoting the silicone-free message for over 10 years now. We created the silicone-free icon above for our 3’’’More Inches product range, which has an avid worldwide following. Why Silicone is Bad for Your Hair

We don’t advise using 2 in 1, co-wash, no-‘poo products. We have separate shampoos and conditioners and like to create the most natural, effective, and silicone-free formulas in our products.

In the cosmetics industry, the EU is the benchmark for product safety and the 3’’’More Inches range complies with all EU guidelines, using mostly natural ingredients. Other jurisdictions have less regulatory oversight for what you put on your hair and skin. By example, Europe has banned or restricted the use of over 1300 chemicals whilst the more relaxed US has outlawed or curbed just 11. We are constantly working to create clean and even more effective formulas that deliver the very best in Healthcare for Hair™.


 Michael Van Clarke


Also in Blogs

Fighting Inflation
Fighting Inflation

January 19, 2023

Declining productivity has been the Western World’s conundrum these last few decades. Whether you blame social media, low interest rates, WFH or ‘The Age of Entitlement’, there’s no denying the zeitgeist, and as a business, we haven’t been immune. 

Continue Reading

5 New Year Tips
5 New Year Tips

January 05, 2023

If your hair is six inches long, the ends have been around for 365 days. Twelve inches long and that’s 730 days, etc. How you habitually treat your hair in those days all adds up. Using a less damaging technique...

Continue Reading

Winter Haircare
Winter Haircare

December 10, 2022

Cold dry air outside, warm dry air inside; this seasonal pincer movement rips the moisture from the hairshaft leaving it thin, brittle and up to 3% shorter.

Continue Reading