Co-washing natural hair is an excellent way to maintain moisture and hydration in your hair as well as prevent breakage.
I can’t remember the first time I heard about washing hair with conditioners on my healthy hair care journey.
Initially, I was resistant to the idea because it seemed odd not to use shampoo or some form of soap while “washing” hair.
My first try with As I Am Coconut Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner forever changed my mind about co-washing and its benefits for natural hair.
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Co-Washing Natural Hair
What Does It Mean to Co-Wash?
The term co-wash is an acronym for conditioner-only washing, which means washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo.
The idea being the conditioner will clean the same way as a shampoo would without stripping your hair the way a shampoo would.
For more natural hair acronyms, read All the Natural Hair Acronyms You Need to Know.
Is Co-Washing Good for Your Hair?
Co-washing is very good for curlier and kinkier hair types as products with chemicals tend to dry out this type of hair.
Additionally, if you have high porosity hair, products with chemicals can aggravate the issue. In these scenarios, co-washing is an ideal and preferable way of cleaning hair.
Benefits of Co-Washing Natural Hair
- Co-washing conditions as it cleans, adds volume, and leaves hair soft and moisturized.
- Co-washing reduces the incidence of SSK aka single strand knots as well as excessive tangling.
- Co-washing makes your curls pop and stands out.
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Is Co-Wash Better Than Shampoo?
While co-washing is better than shampooing, you cannot rely on co-washing 100% to cleanse your hair.
Co-washing can cause build up so you should still shampoo at least once a month with a gentle shampoo.
For gentle shampoo recommendations, read 22 Clarifying Shampoos That Work Without Damaging Hair.
When Should You Co-Wash Your Hair?
If you normally shampoo once a week, then you can co-wash once a week as well.
Depending on the condition of your hair, you can also safely co-wash twice a week.
Can You Leave Co-Wash in Your Hair?
The point of a co-wash is to cleanse your hair so there’s no point leaving it in. You can deep condition after co-washing.
You can also choose to apply the co-wash, massage through your hair, and wait up to 15 minutes before rinsing out thoroughly.
Can You Use Regular Conditioner for Co-Washing?
Yes, you can use a regular daily conditioner to co-wash your hair if you don’t want to invest in a co-wash conditioner specifically. I recommend diluting the conditioner before co-washing with it.
However, do not use a deep conditioner or hair mask to co-wash. They contain higher concentrations of ingredients and will cause build-up even faster.
For daily conditioner recommendations, read Daily Conditioners vs Deep Conditioners: What Are the Differences?
Does Co-Washing Cause Hair Loss?
On the contrary. Co-washing is a great way to keep hair healthy, moisturised and less prone to breakage.
It cannot cause hair loss unless you are allergic to something in the ingredients so check the list before you buy.
How to Co-Wash Natural Hair
- Section your hair into easier to manage parts then soak with lukewarm water.
- Apply your co-wash of choice generously per section. Massage in and work through with your fingertips like you would a shampoo. Take time to finger detangle.
- Leave on for 5 – 10 minutes then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- You may repeat the process if your hair feels like it needs it or follow-up with a deep conditioning session so your curls can really pop and achieve optimal hydration. This deep conditioning process shouldn’t happen if you co-wah more than once a week.
What is the Best Co-Wash Conditioner for Natural Hair?
Try to avoid co-wash conditioners that contain a lot of cones because this will cause build up faster and require frequent shampooing to get out.
Some excellent co-wash conditioners for natural hair include:-
- As I Am Naturally Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
- Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner
- Living Proof Curl Conditioning Wash
- Deeply Nourishing Formula: Infused with a rich blend of Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Saw Palmetto, Phytosterols and Tangerine, the As I Am Coconut Cowash not only cleanses but also deeply nourishes your hair, ensuring it remains hydrated, shiny, and full of life with every wash.
- Revolutionary Hair Care: Move beyond traditional shampoos that strip your hair of its natural essence. Our Coconut Cowash gently removes sebum, residue, and product buildup, all while preserving the hair’s innate moisture, making it a game-changer in your hair care routine.
- Perfect for Curly Hair: Designed with curly hair in mind, this Cowash is a boon for those natural curls, coils, and waves. It reduces combing effort by 55%, ensuring your curls remain tangle-free, bouncy, and beautifully defined.
- Promotes Healthy Growth: Unlike many products that offer superficial results, the As I Am Coconut Cowash dives deep. Its unique blend of natural ingredients actively promotes hair growth from the follicular level, ensuring your locks are not just beautiful but also healthy from root to tip.
- Safe and Natural Cleansing: Free from harmful chemicals like Sulfates, Parabens, and Phthalates, our Coconut Cowash is the epitome of natural care. It’s especially ideal for those with Keratin Treatments, ensuring the treatment’s longevity by gently cleansing without stripping essential crosslinks. Your hair remains soft, silky, and radiant for longer.
- Cleans and conditions in one step
- Gently cleans hair of dirt, oil and build-up
- Keeps hair smooth and conditioned, in and out of the shower, with time-released conditioning
- Cleansing And Detangling: Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner rinses away impurities as it deeply moisturizes from root to tip and quickly detangles curls, coils, kinks, and waves
- Deep Moisture For Curly Hair: Use Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner, Leave-In Conditioner, and Styling Pudding to help prevent frizz, softly define curls, and hydrate hair without crunch or residue
- Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner are ideal for curly hair, hair prone to dryness, and any hair type that needs a little extra moisture protection; Use sulfate-free conditioner and shampoo together for best results
- Carol’s Daughter Curly Hair Products: Whether your curls are coiled, kinky, or loose, we make products for curly hair of all kinds, including curl custard, gel for curly hair, shampoo, conditioner, and hair oils for natural hair growth
- Made With Love: Carol’s Daughter was born in a Brooklyn kitchen in 1993 and made with a mother’s love and encouragement; Today we carry a full line of hair care products and body and skin care products
The next article shares the 20 Plus Best Co-wash Conditioner Recommendations for natural hair.
Share your favorite co-wash conditioners in the comments section :).
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Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
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