Co-washing is just using a conditioner to cleanse your hair and scalp instead of a shampoo. Shampoos can leave your hair dry and frizzy but using a conditioner to ‘cleanse’ your hair leaves it feeling soft.
You apply it to your scalp and hair like a regular shampoo. Massage your scalp and hair like you normally do when you’re shampooing. If you like, you can comb through your hair and then rinse it off. Style your hair as normal. Some people co-wash 2-3 times weekly and use shampoo only weekly, biweekly or monthly. Some people only co-wash and do not shampoo ( people following the curly girl method). I think that the number of times you co-wash depend on your hair needs and the type of products you use. If you use a lot of silicone-containing products and a lot of oil regularly, co-washing might not be for you. In addition, co-washing might also not work for you if you have fine hair or naturally oily hair.
“So, what type of conditioner should I use to co-wash?”. Any cheap instant/ after-shampoo conditioner. For example, Suave conditioners, VO5 conditioners, Aussie moist conditioner, Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine fortifying conditioner, etc.
Co-washing is good for all hair types: curly hair, natural hair and is beneficial for the following reasons:
- It helps you stretch between your relaxers for a longer time. These days, my regimen is quite flexible and I do my hair based on how it feels. If my new growth is getting unmanageable, I do a co-wash to make it soft again. That way, you can stretch as long as possible.
- It keeps your scalp clean, even without shampooing.
- If you feel your hair is drying out before your regular wash day, co-washing helps to keep it moisturized thus maintaining healthy hair.
Many people complain of a ‘product build-up feeling’ when they co-wash. I’ve found that if you want to co-wash, don’t use a very thick conditioner. Next, use a conditioner that doesn’t have any silicones (e.g amodimethicone, etc) in them. This helps to prevent build-up and that sticky feeling. If the conditioner does contain silicones, make sure they’re water-soluble. (For examples of water-soluble silicones, click HERE). In addition, rinse your hair very well with very warm water. (You know how you use hot water to rinse off oily dishes, it works the same way with your hair). This helps to give you that clean feeling like you used a shampoo.
I never used to like co-washing but these days, I’m liking it more and more. In my current regimen, I use Hair one tea tree cleansing conditioner to cleanse my hair weekly and I decided to try the olive oil version to see if it would make my hair softer but it didn’t (I’m always on a quest for soft, moisturized hair).
Although I like using these cleansing conditioners, I felt that they still were not leaving my hair as soft as I wanted. In addition, my last relaxer didn’t leave my hair as straight as I usually like it. So, my new growth is already unmanageable at 3 weeks post-relaxer. Anyways, I decided to just co-wash with an instant rinse-out conditioner, Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine conditioner. It left my new growth really soft and I didn’t feel that I had any build up.
On my next wash day, I decided to try another conditioner, Joico moisture recovery conditioner and it is also pretty cool: my hair was really soft and I didn’t feel any buildup either.
I’m now officially hooked on co-washing! If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.
If you’re having dryness issues or you need to stretch longer, try co-washing regularly. You might just fall in love too!