This is my first winter with curly hair. Or rather, this is my first winter with curly hair that I haven’t tried to straighten. About a year ago, I went on a journey of curl acceptance, but years of blow-drying, straightening, and cutting my hair short meant that I had no idea how to care for my natural rings. So I turned to co-washes, also known as conditioning washes, which beauty enthusiasts have known about for years. The stuff washes and preserves curls without stripping hair of its natural oils like detergent shampoos, and they’re especially useful for curly-haired people, for whom dehydration is enemy No. 1. Without enough moisture, curls can frizz and tangle (I learned this the hard way).
While women have long known about them, many men are still just getting hip to the idea — if you’re wondering how Shawn Mendes or Timothée Chalamet or Penn Badgley are getting that hair, yes, it’s partly the haircut, but it’s also a moisturizing shampoo (likely a co-wash or even just regular conditioner) and soft cream styling. Even men without curly hair would benefit from a co-wash. It creates the kind of hair that hasn’t been washed for three or four days — not dirty, but pliable and slightly shiny with natural oils — without grossness or smelliness. And though it’s hard to find a co-wash in the men’s aisle (there’s no “Sport” on these labels), I crossed the aisle and tried more than a dozen co-washes; these are my favorite for men’s hair (which, it should be noted, isn’t inherently different than women’s. Most, if not all, of the difference between men’s and women’s shampoos is scent).
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Okay, so it isn’t technically a co-wash, but this apple-cider-vinegar-based hair rinse works very similarly. The dpHue doesn’t lather, so it preserves the natural oils on your scalp and hair and cleanses without stripping, and since it’s thinner than a conditioner, it’s great for people with finer hair who might worry about the weight of additional oils or moisturizing agents. The vinegar smell worried me at first, but disappeared after I washed it out. I typically follow with a leave-in conditioner since it lacks some of the conditioning agents like others on this list, but it’s become my go-to product when I feel a little too oily and need a little reset.