Conditioner instead of Shampoo for Fragile Hair

Conditioner instead of Shampoo for Fragile Hair

After the Great Hair Disaster of 2010, I learned a great tip to care for fragile hair. The method is “Conditioner Only” or CO, which means instead of shampoo just use conditioner!

Shampoos can make hair more dry and brittle because it prevents the hair’s natural sebum from doing its job.

Conditioners have a cleansing agent like shampoo but they can be gentler on hair. Dry brittle hair is common with hypothyroidism so we need gently methods for our hair.

Choosing the Right Hair Conditioner 

Its important to use a Silicone-free conditioner because silicone flattens the hair and will end up greasy. Look for conditioners free of Parabens, Silicone, Dimethicone. Read the label to make sure they aren’t hidden in the ingredients.

Inexpensive conditioners can work just as well as expensive ones. My favorites are Garnier Pure Clean because I can get a huge bottle at Target for about $6, Nature’s Gate line from Whole Foods, and Suave and Alberto VO5.

How to Wash Hair with the Conditioner Only Method 

This method is so simple, it saves time and money, and for me the results were great.

  • Shower as usual, wet hair thoroughly using warm or hot water.
  • Use a good amount of condition (like 1/4 cup) and condition the roots liberally.
  • Massage your scalp like you would with shampoo. There will be no lather which might takes some adjusting but trust me it works.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • For added shine and silkiness use a tiny tiny bit of Moroccan Oil on damp hair ends.
  • Style as usual.


  • It can take 3-4 washes before the natural hair oil start to work on their own again.
  • Every few months, using a gentle shampoo is okay.
  • If hair starts to get a little dull, use a silicone-free clarifying conditioner like Suave every so often.

Several friends have converted to conditioning only and really like it. If you try it, I would love to hear what you think and what conditioner works for you.

During the time that my hair was damaged, dry, brittle and fragile due to thyroid treatment, the conditioner only method helped my hair to feel soft, get stronger and eventually grow out again.

Miss LizzyConditioner instead of Shampoo for Fragile Hair
Supplements to Strengthen Dry, Brittle, Thin Hair

Supplements to Strengthen Dry, Brittle, Thin Hair

In May 2010, using myself as the usual experiment-test-dummy, I took DHEA to see if it would help with my thyroid and adrenal issues. Within three weeks I lost over half my hair volume, and what hair I had left broke almost to the root. Devastating? Yes!

At the time I had been taking Natural Desiccated Thyroid medicine, Hydrocortisone for adrenal fatigue which was going pretty well. But then added DHEA. The combination was a hair disaster.

Until it was gone, I had no idea how much I loved and identified with my long hair. For a year now I’ve been sulking and depressed, enviously watching women with long hair.

For a while I wore hair extensions which was great and helped me through the early trauma of losing almost 8 inches of hair. Finally I’ve recovered, and now embracing the short hair while it grows out.

That’s the backstory, now the goods news! I’ve done tons of research on how to grow and maintain healthy hair, which I am excited to share. Even if you have strong hair, you might know someone who has gone through a similar tragedy. If you have hair care tips, please share! In my research, it seems that growing strong and healthy hair has four key parts:

Hair Growth: Iron Supplements

My first concern was speed of hair growth. Every morning in the mirror, I desperately willed my hair to grow. Apparently healthy hair grows about 1/2 inch a month. So 6 inches a year! But for us hypothyroid people, I read we often have low iron which means hair grows slower! My iron was very low, so I made sure to take my iron (25 mg/day). From what I’ve read it takes about 3-4 months to get iron levels up so it was important for me to be diligent.

Hair Strength: Zinc

My hair had inches of terrible split ends. So I had to work on strengthening my hair. I read that Zinc was good for hair strength (also supposedly good for thyroid) so I added Zinc 10mg a day. My hair is no longer splitting, and the new growth is getting stronger. Thumbs up for the zinc. Plus I noticed an added bonus of less acne, woot!

Hair Shine: Omega 6

I read that Evening Primrose Oil Omega-6 was good for strength and shine, so I’ve been taking Evening Primrose Oil 1350mg 2/day for a year. It’s a little hard to tell if this made a difference with my hair, but it seems like it hasn’t hurt. And the Evening Primrose Oil definitely helped with PMS and mood swings! That was a huge bonus.

Stress: Vitamin C

When the body is in stress it draws from nutrients from the hair, skin and nails first. My hair tragedy was a clue that my body was not happy with me last year, and very stressed. In Adrenal Fatigue, James Wilson writes about the importance of Vitamin C to help the adrenals deal with stress.

Recently on Janie’s Blog on Stop the Thyroid Madness, she feels she never had adrenal fatigue because she has always taken lots of Vitamin C. This was great info! For the past year, I upped my dose of Vitamin C to 2k units a day with 1k units of bioflavinoid (for absorption). Spread into four doses a day of 500mg. When I take my Vitamin C, I feel really solid all around. The bonus for taking higher doses of Vitamin C, I wasn’t sick at all this year.

PS – Thanks to the ladies at the Yahoo Grow Hair Forum who saved me many times.


Miss LizzySupplements to Strengthen Dry, Brittle, Thin Hair