Co-washing is a cool term for washing your hair with just conditioner. Ditching the ‘poo may seem unconventional but it’s actually the perfect solution for dry hair. The natural hair movement has made this beauty routine more popular as word got around that curly and coily locks are more prone to dryness. While oils, creams, and pre-poos can help shield your hair from moisture-stripping shampoos, co-washes are more convenient and take less work.
Co-washing is most beneficial for thick, wavy, kinky, and curly hair types. The conditioner acts as a gentle cleanser as you work your natural oils into your roots. Unlike shampoo, you can condition your hair more than once a week and not worry about dryness or damage. Co-washing is also very cost-efficient. Because co-washing requires more frequent uses, it’s best to use cheaper products. Even the most elite of naturalista bloggers use inexpensive conditioners for co-washing — proving it’s not the product that makes the hair, it’s the treatment.
Get the Most From Co-Washing
1. KNOW YOUR HAIR TYPE: Co-washing is best used for thick and/or dry hair. If you have fine, thin, and/or oily hair, co-washing can leave your hair feeling heavy or even oilier. Co-washing may work best for thinner hair types as a pre-styling method, as it will help give your hair a sleek hold.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONDITIONER: Your conditioner does not have to be designer label, but it should be sulfate-free. (FYI: Always read the back label of anything you put in your hair). Sulfates can cause your hair to become dryer, irritate your scalp, and even cause hair loss. The more organic the ingredients, the better. Look for a conditioner that will give you major “slip”(perfectly detangled hair that can effortlessly slip through your fingers). Luckily, there are many brands that now provide co-wash products that not only moisturize your hair but also cleanse your scalp as a shampoo — just without all the negative shampoo effects.
3. METHOD IS EVERYTHING: No matter your method of co-washing, be sure to finger-detangle your hair beforehand using your favorite detangling product or oil (we recommend coconut oil). The most preferred method of co-washing is sectioning. Section your hair into two, four, six, or eight (depending on hair length) and coat the inner and outer layers of your hair with conditioner. Put each section of conditioned hair into a bun before moving onto the next section of unconditioned hair. Once entire hair is conditioned, undo each bun one by one under a running shower and rinse out the conditioner. After the first rinse, add more conditioner, massage the scalp, and comb through (starting from bottom to top) with a wide tooth comb. Rinse thoroughly, coat hair with your favorite sealant oil (we recommend castor oil) and twist, roll, or clip into a bun as you move on to the next section of hair.
4. OCCASIONAL CLARIFYING: While conditioner is a gentle cleanser, it may not get rid of all the residue and bacteria on your scalp. It is necessary to use a clarifying shampoo or cleanser every once in a while. Remember to seek sulfate-free products. If you want to go organic, try spritzing and massaging some diluted apple cider vinegar into your scalp before co-washing.
5. DEVELOP A ROUTINE: You can co-wash your hair every other day without risk of losing moisture. Co-washing once or twice a week is fine. Now if you have a bunch of shampoo bottles at home, no need to toss ‘em. Just plan your shampoo wash days for every other week and do co-washes in between.
Has co-washing transformed your hair? What is your favorite co-wash routine? Share with us below!