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Our Go-To Hair Care Routine for Men: This Will Make You Look Healthier

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David has been covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man as a writer and photographer since 2020. We asked David to sum himself up in four sentences, and here it is. Serial learner. Aspiring wordsmith. Bourbon enthusiast. Jack of some trades. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024
17 min read
Hair Care Routine for Men Man Washing His Hair with Shampoo from Behind
Key Takeaways

Wash and condition your hair two or three times per week, and use a co-wash like Geologie’s in between to extend the time between washes. To use a co-wash, get your hair thoroughly wet, massage the co-wash into your hair from the roots to the ends, add water to your fingertips, and massage the co-wash through your hair for at least one minute. Let the co-wash sit for one more minute, then rinse your hair thoroughly to prevent product build-up.

It’s taken me a long time to find my go-to hair care routine.

And when I say a long time, I mean decades. 

Like most kids, I learned to shampoo my own hair around age 5 or 6, at which point the primary goal was not to clean your hair but to keep shampoo out of your eyes to avoid setting them aflame.

This was a time of polar opposites, and I went from avoiding showers like I was the Wicked Witch of the West to taking one on a daily basis and scouring my hair with enough shampoo to clean up a minor oil spill.

This period of my personal hair-washing history was also marked by the steadfast conviction that conditioner was for girls. How was I supposed to gain clout in the complicated political landscape of middle school recess with my hair being soft and smelling like lilacs?

This ignorance gradually faded to a grudging acceptance of conditioner’s usefulness, but only through the compromise of using a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner with “manly” branding.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve found a routine that lets me shampoo and condition my hair once or twice per week, and nourish my scalp and hair with a third, new product that lengthens the amount of time between washes

This miracle hair washing product is called co-wash, and in this article we’ll take a look at what it is, how to use it, and our new go-to hair care routine.

What Is Co-Wash?

Man Holding Geologie Smoothing and Cooling Hair Co Washes
Smoothing and Cooling Hair Co-Washes from Geologie

It’s easiest to think of co-wash as an entirely separate category of hair care product from shampoos and conditioners. It’s really: a scalp cleanser. 

Most co-washes have a low-foam formulation that uses the friction of your fingers scrubbing the product through your hair and across your scalp to lift out excess oil and dirt, but not completely strip your hair of beneficial, natural oils like off-the-shelf shampoo does. 

African American Man Washing His Hair in Shower

Co-wash is then meant to be left in your hair for a minute or two, during which it nourishes your scalp and moisturizes your hair. 

It’s not wrong to think of co-wash as a facemask for your scalp. Beneficial ingredients like squalane and Vitamin B5 help to moisturize the scalp and keep your hair follicles healthy, which in turn keeps your scalp from being too dry or too oily.

So, where do you find one of these co-washes? Glad you asked.

Geologie cooling hair co wash tea tree

My favorite is from Geologie.

Geologie is an award-winning skincare company that has recently branched into the hair and body care realm. They offer two different co-washes that are packed with beneficial ingredients: the Smoothing Hair Co-Wash and the Cooling Hair Co-Wash

I’m a big fan of their Cooling Hair Co-Wash, which is formulated with menthol to provide a physically cooling sensation as you massage it across your scalp. 

Geologie Cooling Hair Co-Wash
(Get 50% off after taking Geologie's quiz until 5/22)

I love the idea that I’m basically giving my scalp a face mask treatment every time I use this. After just one wash I noticed a lighter, stronger texture to my hair that made it easier to shape and make presentable.

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Best of all, these co-washes are made without harsh ingredients like sulfates, parabens, or detergents, which strip out healthy oil from your hair and can dry out your scalp.

Now that you’ve got the right product, let’s look at the right way to use co-wash and how it fits into our go-to hair care routine.

The Best Hair Care Routine for Men: 5 Simple Steps

My go-to hair care routine starts with using shampoo and conditioner two or three times per week. I’m going to assume you already know the ins and outs of properly washing your hair, but if you need a refresher, check out my complete guide to cleaning those locks. 

If you want to extend the time between washes to reduce the total number of times you wash your hair per week, you can use a co-wash. Co-washes also help to nourish and cleanse your scalp, and can remove product build-up in your hair that could lead to excess oil and an irritated scalp.

Here’s how to add in a co-wash to your hair care routine:

1. Get Your Hair Thoroughly Wet

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The first step to any hair care routine is, of course, to get your hair wet. However, most guys actually do this wrong. 

Before applying any product to your hair, whether that be shampoo, conditioner, or co-wash, each strand of your hair needs to be completely soaked in order for you to reap the full benefits of the product.

Getting each strand of hair completely soaked can take around a minute, depending on how thick and how much hair you have. Most guys jump in the shower, quickly pass their head under the water, and then get right to blasting it with shampoo. 

Take a little longer with the initial step of getting your hair wet—this is especially important when it comes to using co-wash.

2. Coat Your Hair With Co-Wash

young man serious hair loss

Now that your hair is completely soaked, it’s time to get the co-wash working.

Apply a quarter-sized amount of co-wash to the fingertips of one hand, work it between both hands, and then start to work the co-wash across your scalp, using your fingertips to scrub in small circles. 

This scrubbing action will work the co-wash through your hair as well, but make sure it’s coating your hair from root to end. 

This stage is my favorite part about using Geologie’s Cooling Co-Wash. The menthol formulation hits my scalp and makes a cool, tingling sensation that feels like something you’d only experience at a fancy spa. 

Geologie Cooling Hair Co-Wash
(Get 50% off after taking Geologie's quiz until 5/22)

I love the idea that I’m basically giving my scalp a face mask treatment every time I use this. After just one wash I noticed a lighter, stronger texture to my hair that made it easier to shape and make presentable.

Check Price

3. Massage The Co-Wash For At Least 1 Minute

closeup young man washing hair

Once the co-wash is thoroughly coating your hair, run your fingertips under water again and once more gently scrub your scalp in small circles. 

Since most co-washes aren’t made with harsh chemicals and detergents, they won’t strip out dirt and oil just by sitting in your hair. This isn’t a bad thing, either. Many off-the-shelf shampoos are so harsh that you’re not supposed to leave them in your hair for more than a minute, or else you risk damaging your hair and drying your scalp.

With co-washes, the friction of your fingers gently scrubbing your scalp and hair helps lift out the excess dirt and oil that you’d like to rinse away. 

You want to go across the full surface of your scalp at least a few times. This includes the top of your head, the sides, back, and even behind your ears. 

Continue this scrubbing motion for at least a minute, and feel free to scrub to your heart’s content. The co-wash only gets more of a chance to clean your hair and scalp the longer it’s left in your hair, and there are no detrimental side effects for leaving it in at length.

4. Let The Co-Wash Sit For At Least 1 Minute

man mesh pouf taking shower

The next step requires you to do nothing. Just sit and wait and think about all the good ingredients the co-wash is infusing into your scalp and hair. 

If you start your shower with co-wash, this is a great time to wash and rinse your body since your scalp is busy getting pampered. 

Besides menthol, Geologie’s Cooling Co-Wash uses tea tree oil, aloe vera, Vitamin B5, and squalane. Tea tree oil provides antibacterial protection to the scalp, and also unclogs hair follicles to promote healthy hair growth.

Aloe vera promotes cell turnover in skin and hair, which also promotes healthy hair growth and keeps your hair looking shiny. 

geologie smoothing hair co wash

Geologie also has a Smoothing Co-Wash, which turns the moisturizing and hydrating properties up to 11. Formulated with avocado and coconut oil, these contain proteins and fatty acids that nourish the hair and scalp to make your hair stronger and glossier. 

These co-washes are also great for your beard. The nutrients and healthy ingredients nourish the skin beneath your beard, which helps to reduce shine and keep it silky soft.

After a minute, feel free to wash out the co-wash. However, if you want to lock in more of the co-wash’s benefits for your hair, leave it in for at least 2 minutes. 

Then, rinse your hair thoroughly. Just like how most guys don’t spend long enough getting their hair wet, guys also don’t spend long enough rinsing product from their hair. 

You’ll want to rinse your hair for at least 15-30 seconds to get all the co-wash out and avoid product build up on your scalp. I know I’ve said that the co-wash has more benefits the longer you leave it in your hair, but after too long it can clog your pores and cause excess oil production. 

5. If Needed, Occasionally Use Shampoo

man washing hair pink background

Most hair types will benefit from swapping a shampoo and conditioning session out for co-wash, meaning you can go longer between washing, but some may require an extra kick from shampoo and conditioner depending on your hair type. 

Co-wash is most often recommended for those with coarse, curly, textured, braided, and even bleached and colored hairs, as co-wash is color-safe. 

Geologie Cooling Hair Co-Wash
(Get 50% off after taking Geologie's quiz until 5/22)

I love the idea that I’m basically giving my scalp a face mask treatment every time I use this. After just one wash I noticed a lighter, stronger texture to my hair that made it easier to shape and make presentable.

Check Price

We’ll talk more about other types of hair in the next section, and best practices for keeping them happy and healthy.

If you still feel like your hair is oily or just not clean enough after using co-wash between washes, feel free to add in another shampoo and conditioning session to your weekly routine. For example, if you washed your hair three times a week and added a co-wash session to drop the washes down to two, you can instead stick with three washes and continue to use the co-wash.

This method will get you some extra cleaning power and you’ll still have the conditioning, skincare-style benefits from the co-wash. Most people benefit by using the co-wash once a week, but you can use it as many times as feels good for your hair.

Men’s Hair Care Routines for Different Hair Types

Depending on your hair type, you might need an extra step or slightly different method to get the most out of your hair care routine. Let’s take a look.


handsome young man curly hair

Curly hair is prone to be dry, since it’s more difficult for natural, moisturizing oils to travel down the full strand.

Thus, using co-wash once or twice per weekon a daily basis is ideal if you have curly hair. I recommend leaving the co-wash in for at least two minutes, as this will give you the maximum benefit of the co-wash’s moisturizing heft.

Curly hair can often be frizzy as well, due to being dry, and co-wash will help keep your hair smooth, strong, and frizz-free.


handsome man looking at camera

If you have straight hair, you’re probably no stranger to the feeling of a greasy mop on your head. 

Straight hair is prone to feeling greasy because there’s no wave or texture to prevent grease from sliding down the strand and onto your scalp. 

Using a co-wash between washes can help if you struggle with oily, straight hair, and will keep your scalp cleansed and nourished, which will help it to not overproduce oil.


close portrait virile attractive modern

If you have thick hair, you’ll need to give a lot more time to getting your hair wet and washing product out, depending on how long it is. 

Thick hair is unfortunately good at hiding dirt, grease, and parts of your hair from the water and soap you use in the shower, so take special care to ensure your hair is thoroughly wet before applying a shampoo or co-wash. 

You can have thick, straight hair or thick, curly hair, so follow the guidelines for whatever hair type you have. Co-wash is great for thick hair, but the exact method of how you’ll use it can vary depending on whether your hair is straight, curly, or somewhere inbetween. 

It’s especially important to make sure you’ve washed all the product out if you have thick hair. Thick hair can hide product buildup, which can lead to extra grease in your hair and on your scalp.

If you’re unsure of what products to use for your particular hair type, Geologie offers a Custom Control Hair Quiz that will develop a personalized hair care regimen for you based off your answers. 

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If you want to treat your skin well and not think too hard about how to do it, Geologie is a great place to start. Their well-known Complete Skincare Trial set checks the major boxes of healthy skin maintenance in an easy-to-use system.

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thoughtful man wrapped in shawl

If you have wavy hair, you’ll be somewhere between dry and greasy, and where you land on that spectrum will vary from person to person. 

I recommend following the best practices for straight or curly hair, depending on what your hair situation is like. If your hair is usually greasy, mix in a co-wash to your routine every once in a while to extend the time between shampoo and conditioning sessions. 

If your wavy hair is often dry, I recommend using a co-wash two to three times per week to get extra moisture in your hair and scalp.


portrait handsome young man afro

Coily hair is basically super curly hair, and is the driest of the bunch. If you have this type of hair, you need to prioritize moisturizing and hydrating above all else. 

I recommend using a co-wash two to three times per week between days where you shampoo and condition to ensure you’re getting as much moisturization as possible.

This won’t be too much product or create oily conditions for your hair. Co-wash is great for conditioning your hair and it’s also great for your scalp, and it also has the benefit of removing product build-up from your hair that could cause your scalp to overproduce oil.

Experts also recommend doing a deep condition once per month. This potentially requires a long time in the shower, but the general idea is that you apply an intensive conditioner after you shampoo or co-wash and leave it in for 30 minutes to an hour. 

This may seem like an aggressive amount of conditioning, but it works.


young handsome man long hair 1

Long hair is prone to become more oily and greasy since there is more hair overall, and therefore more room for the oil to spread out. 

If you have this type of hair, you’ll likely need to mix in a quality co-wash to your hair care routine a few times a week, depending on whether your hair is straight or curly. 

Straight, long hair will have the most difficulty with oily conditions, while curly and coily long hair may become extremely dry. 

3 Key Mistakes to Avoid in Your Hair Care Routine

1. Overwashing Your Hair

Man in Shower Washing Hair

Most people have over washed their hair at one point in their life, but the good news is that you can’t overwash your hair when you use co-wash. 

Overwashing your hair with shampoo causes the healthy, natural oils to be stripped from your hair, which can dry out your scalp and hair, leaving it brittle, dull, and susceptible to frizziness. 

Even worse, when your scalp is overly dry your follicles will start to overproduce oil to compensate, which means that your hair will get more oily, faster, and be generally aggravated. 

Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning with hair so dry it snaps in half, and then feeling like you dunked your head in a deep fryer by late afternoon. 

This can be avoided by only shampooing two or three times a week and adding a co-wash to your hair care routine and adding a co-wash to your hair care routine.

2. Washing With Water That’s Too Hot

Shower head

Just like overwashing your hair, showering with water that’s too hot can dry out your skin, scalp, and hair. 

Water that’s too hot can remove the healthy oils that keep your hair shiny and hydrated, and your scalp can begin to overproduce oil when it’s been scoured with hot water.

Dermatologists recommend an ideal shower temperature between 98 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit, which is definitely warm, but not as hot as you might be used to. 

If you like nothing more than to decompress in the steamy embrace of a hot shower, this will be bad news, but the healthy, glowing skin and strong, shiny hair will be worth it.

3. Rubbing Your Hair Dry Instead of Patting It

The fastest way to get your hair dry after a shower is to rub the heck out of it with a towel, but it’s not the best.

Wildly rubbing your hair with a towel can break individual strands, damage follicles, and even pull hair out. If you happen to be struggling with a receding hairline or male pattern baldness, you definitely want to pat your hair dry instead of rubbing it. 

If your hair is prone to dryness, rubbing it with a towel can also cause it to be frizzy and unmanageable. 

Try patting your hair dry instead, and if you have long hair you can tie it up in a towel like a 1960s housewife. 

Go Care for Your Hair

This go-to hair care routine has all the necessary ingredients for you to get the best hair of your life, and make dry or oily hair a thing of the past. 

By making a conscious effort to soak your hair thoroughly and fully work your products through your hair and across your scalp, you’ll see healthy benefits in no time.

Geologie Cooling Hair Co-Wash
(Get 50% off after taking Geologie's quiz until 5/22)

I love the idea that I’m basically giving my scalp a face mask treatment every time I use this. After just one wash I noticed a lighter, stronger texture to my hair that made it easier to shape and make presentable.

Check Price

Even better, if you add co-wash to your hair care routine your scalp will be more moisturized and nourished than ever before, and good hair begins with a healthy scalp.

If you know someone who’s in need of a new hair care routine, share this article with them! They’ll thank you when they look like Chris Hemsworth with a manbun.


What should men apply on their hair daily?

Men can apply pomade and other hair-sculpting products on a daily basis, but shouldn’t shampoo or condition their hair every day.

How often should men wash their hair?

Men should wash their hair two to three times per week. If you add a co-wash to your hair care routine, you can reduce the number of times you wash and condition your hair to once or twice per week.

Do men need to wet their hair everyday?

It’s not necessary for men to wet their hair everyday. If you’re not planning to wash your hair that day, you should wet your hair to style it.