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To Co-Wash Or Not

Written by Angela Fields

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Posted on October 17 2020

Have you heard of co-washing? Do you swear by it? Are you wondering if you should try it? Today we’re breaking down co-washing, so you can decide if it’s right for you and your hair.

What is co-washing?

Co-washing or conditioner washing is washing your hair with conditioner only. It can be a good practice for people with tightly curled or kinked hair or high porosity hair that’s prone to drying out after too frequent washes. Shampoo can strip your hair of its natural oils, and co-washing can give your hair a shampoo break while still washing away residue and product buildup. If you have dry natural hair, you may be a good candidate for co-washing, especially if you have 4B or 4C curls, which are incredibly fragile and exceptionally susceptible to dryness.

How to co-wash

It’s important to note that co-washing isn’t just skipping your shampoo. It’s using your conditioner in the same way that you would typically use shampoo. Start by rinsing your hair with warm water. Then, massage a generous amount of conditioner into your hair from roots to ends -- just as you would with shampoo. Massage your scalp with the pads of your fingers. The friction will help loosen residue and build up without stripping your hair. Rinse well.

Once you’ve rinsed out the conditioner, use conditioner again, but in the same way you would normally use it. Focus more on the ends of your hair and allow the conditioner to sit for a few minutes before rinsing out.

Choose the right conditioner

Make sure to choose a conditioner without silicones. Silicones add shine to your hair, but cause build up and dryness over time and defeat part of the purpose of co-washing. If you choose to co-wash exclusively, you may consider “cleansing conditioners,” which are conditioners made specifically for co-washing. "Cleansing conditioners" are detergent-free and use emulsification agents to minimize residue build up without stripping hair.

How often should you co-wash?

There’s no one right way to co-wash, as long as it works for your hair. Some people use co-washing as a solution for post-gym hair when they need to cleanse their hair of sweat. Some people co-wash between weekly or bi-weekly shampoos. Some people have sworn off shampoo permanently and use co-washing exclusively.

If you choose to co-wash, make sure you choose an appropriate conditioner that nourishes and treats your hair, and rinses cleanly. Good luck!

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