The 5 Best Co-Washes For Fine Hair

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by Masha Vapnitchnaia
Originally Published: 
Three of the best co-washes for fine hair on a mint-colored, textured background.
Bustle / Amazon

Finding the right cleansing conditioner for fine hair can be a challenge. On one hand, you want a lightweight formula that won't strip the natural oils from your already fragile hair. On the other, you also want a substantial conditioning treatment to replenish moisture without leaving your hair looking flat. The best co-washes for fine hair can achieve both goals by combining gentle, sulfate-free cleansers with ingredients that leave hair soft, moisturized, and full of volume.

What Is Co-Washing?

While “co-washing” is another way to refer to a method called “conditioner-only washing”— as in skipping shampoo and going straight to step two — it doesn’t mean any old conditioner will be right for the job. What makes a co-wash stand out is its ability to still clean hair without the use of any harsh detergents or sulfates that can strip your hair of moisture. However, sulfate-free typically means lather-free (or low lather), so don’t be surprised if your cleansing conditioner doesn’t get as sudsy as you massage it into your hair. Rest assured, though, the creamier product is still working to remove impurities and product buildup from your scalp.

What To Look For When Shopping For Co-Washes For Fine Hair

Beyond cleansing, co-washes should also condition your hair, so you’ll often find ingredients like argan oil, coconut oil, aloe, green tea, and keratin in these formulas. That said, to reap the most benefits for your fine hair, you may want to consider narrowing down your hair type even further to find the best co-wash for you — and you'll find options for curly, frizzy, and color-treated hair below.

Shop The Best Co-Washes For Fine Hair

In a hurry? These are the best co-washes for fine hair:

  1. A Fan-Favorite Co-Wash: MopTop Cowash Cleansing Conditioner
  2. The Best For Managing Frizz: Unwash Bio-Cleansing Conditioner
  3. The Best For Curly Hair: Pantene Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-Wash
  4. The Best For Oily Hair: R+Co Analog Cleansing Foam Conditioner
  5. The Best For Color-Treated Hair: Keracolor Clenditioner Co Wash

To get you started, here are some of the best cleansing conditioners that have received high praise from Amazon shoppers with fine hair.

1. A Fan-Favorite Co-Wash

The MopTop co-wash conditioner has earned a 4.2-star overall rating after more than 6,000 Amazon reviews, making it one of the most popular co-washes on the site. Shoppers not only have praised it for its budget-friendly price tag, but they’ve also attested to its results on fine hair. The sulfate-, paraben-, and silicone-free formula features aloe extract and sea botanicals for lightweight hydration. Honey is another key ingredient — it balances your hair’s natural oils.

One shopper wrote: “This my first time trying Mop Top products. I love this cleansing conditioner for my fine curly hair. It left my hair clean and moisturized.”

2. The Best For Managing Frizz

Amazon users have raved about this UnWash conditioner because of how moisturizing it is and how well it helps to smooth. “My hair comes out clean, shiny, and the best it’s looked in a very long time,” one fan gushed. Another shopper added, “This is the best cowash I’ve found.” It’s sulfate-free but contains cationic emulsifiers, which are a type of surfactant that act like magnets to remove dirt and surface buildup without stripping hair of its natural oils, so your hair stays soft and smooth even after you rinse it out. It also contains hydrolyzed keratin, which helps strengthen hair, seal in moisture, smooth the hair cuticle, reduce frizz, and add shine. Rounding out the ingredients is organic evening primrose oil to further moisturize both the hair and scalp.

One shopper wrote: “I loved Unwash from my first use. Everything about my hair has improved. It is soft, feels clean, is easier to style, is less reactive to weather, and there is less hair in my brush. I have medium long, fine, color treated hair.”

Also available on: Anthropologie, $20, and JCPenney, $27

3. The Best For Curly Hair

Though most co-washes are ideal for curly hair, this Pantene conditioner was specifically developed by scientists for curly or coily hair. The main ingredient is argan oil, which is gentle but still potent enough to leave hair incredibly hydrated, so your fine curls will be left nice and moisturized (and not weighed down). Reviewers across multiple hair types reported that it left their curls soft and tangle-free. “This product is like butter,” wrote one. “It melts away the dryness and tangles leaving very soft, easy to manage hair.” The formula is also free from sulfates, parabens, and dyes.

One shopper wrote: “Love the Pantene Gold Series! I [have] extremely curly and extremely fine hair. These products are the very best I have ever found for making my curls shiny and healthy looking. The cowash is a game changer for me!”

Also available on: Walmart, $6, and Rite Aid, $11

4. The Best For Oily Hair

Though it’s sulfate-free, this cleansing foam conditioner by R+Co is unique in that it still has a more foamy, shampoo-like texture, which, according to Amazon reviewers, dispenses just like shaving cream. The weightless formula (which is also mineral oil-, gluten-, and paraben-free) is full of hair-loving ingredients, which, per the brand, are best for those with under-hydrated or coarse hair. The ingredient list includes horsetail extract for cleansing; green tea to add luster and shine, and argan oil to further soften hair. It's the priciest pick on this list, but fans mentioned it’s “worth every penny” for those with fine hair — especially those who tend to get oily roots — because it will leave hair fluffy, clean, and grease-free.

One shopper wrote: “I have tried at least 6 different cleansing conditioners and they all made my hair and scalp extra oily. I have very fine hair and this cleansing foam conditioner works WONDERS. [...] this is a great option if you want to cleanse your hair everyday without shampooing or using oily cleansing conditioners.”

Also available on: Walmart, $26, R+Co, $32, and NET-A-PORTER, $30

5. The Best For Color-Treated Hair

While all of the co-washes on this list are safe for color-treated hair, what makes the Keracolor co-wash stand out is its proprietary “Krystal Water Complex,” which helps neutralize hard water minerals and chlorine that can cause oxidation and color fading. The gentle cleanser is free of sulfates and parabens and is also cruelty-free. It’s also infused with keratin to restore and strengthen hair that’s become damaged from bleach and dye.

One shopper wrote: “Best hair product I’ve purchased all year! I have fine, naturally curly hair that’s color treated, base color and highlights. I’ve tried everything on the market and this product really delivers. My hair is both soft and shiny, yet it holds the style. I don’t have to worry about washing out my color. It cleans without stripping and leaves my hair soft without a residue or making it limp. Highly recommend.”

Also available on: JCPenney, $40

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