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


Join the conversation
  • Michelle - October 20, 2011

    Hi Lizzy,
    I actually did start the conditioning method about 2 months ago. I had very good results and just switched to WEN. I really like it a lot. However, I color my hair and have to use shampoo when I dye it every 4 weeks. When I use the shampoo it really dries my hair out, which is why I will never switch back to using shampoo. Thanks for the great idea!

  • Lizzy - October 21, 2011

    Hi Michelle, so glad to hear it's working well for you! I haven't tried WEN because it's so expensive! But glad to hear you like it.

  • Brenna - October 27, 2011

    Did you color your hair during the year you were having issues with shedding?

    I had my hair colored last in July before my diagnosis of hypothyroidism. I am on meds and the shedding has lessened but my hair looks terrible, color wise. I am going to the stylist this afternoon for strand tests to see if my hair will take the color and what it does before we color it all. Any advice?

  • Michelle - October 28, 2011


    First let me apologize for jumping in to Lizzy. Brenna, how are your iron levels? Low iron can cause hair loss. Also I have read that taking Evening Primrose Oil, Magnesium, and Zinc can also help with hair loss. If you take an iron supplement make sure you also take vitamin C with it, this will help with absorption. Hope this helps.

  • traci - December 13, 2011

    Is silicone called anything different? I just looked at my bottle(that I never use because my hair is so fine and makes it flat it seems…all conditioners seem to do that to my hair) So I was just wondering if it was listed as a differnt name???


  • traci - December 13, 2011

    Is silicone called anything different? I just looked at my bottle(that I never use because my hair is so fine and makes it flat it seems…all conditioners seem to do that to my hair) So I was just wondering if it was listed as a differnt name???

    sorry for 2 posts I forgot to check the box that notifies me by email if there is a response!

  • Lori - December 26, 2011, another great website in addition to stopthe madness, has "new" curly hair on his website

  • leigh - January 4, 2012

    anyone have issues with thinning eyelashes..and my bangs are so thin…..over a year 1 year I felt cray, lazy sad, gained 55 lbs the pain in my legs and stiffness I though oh this is what 51 feels like. …… .. Finally was diagnosed with a goiter but no meds a year later and a simple blood draw I have hypothyroidism and Im on medication after a month I felt fine 4 days the back to depression and pain 4 days ago they bumped it to 35 I'm not savvy on this at all.. I'm a 51 years young woman living in her prime and need my wonderful dancing fool like back…..Please offer ideas and things to read……………………

  • Lana - May 11, 2013

    Hi Lizzy, I just came across your blog. And am so happy I found it!!! I recently underwent Graves treatment and am still on medication. All my life I've had very thin hair with a curl, but it was always super easy to style. And the growth was great. Now after a year on the medication, Methimazole, I found myself copping off half of it, because it became so thin and it's impossible to style because it's unbelievably curly on top. I mean I cannot style it, so I've been wearing my hair up a lot lately! It's very frustrating and stressful. Let me ask you, after you went through the curly stage, did you hair come back to normal? And how long did it take? Also, is there any specific advise you would give, what can I do in the mean time to calm it down, so it's not sure unruly. 🙁

    Thank you,

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