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 a shampoo.
The idea being the conditioner will clean the same way as 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 stand out.
- Is it Possible to Overcondition Natural Hair?
- Chebe Powder for Natural Hair
- Hair Steamers for Natural Hair
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 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 fingers like you would a shampoo. Take time to finger detangle.
- Leave on for 5 – 10 minutes then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Follow up with a deep conditioning session so your curls can really pop and achieve optimal hydration.
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 and Living Proof Curl Conditioning Wash.
The next article will share 25 top co-wash recommendations for natural hair so stay tuned or sign up HERE to receive the list once live.
Share your favourite co-wash conditioners in the comments section :).
Abi delved into the world of hair care after suffering from a bout of severe hair loss. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Natural Oils for Hair and Health, as well as the writer of the Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the creator of the The Self-Empowerment Network Portal. Read more…