Co-washing is a common term in the afro-textured hair community. It’s nothing serious, just the process of cleaning your hair with a conditioner instead of a shampoo. The term “co-wash” is simply a contraction of “conditioner wash”.
So is co-washing bad? Co-washing has a ton of benefits and very few cons which will be discussed in this article, along with other noteworthy factors involved in the process, and how to co-wash for best results.
- Mild cleansing
Conditioners contain active ingredients that make them mildly cleansing. This means they can take away dirt without stripping the hair of essential oils and nutrients. So for those who often ask “can you co-wash every day?” the answer is yes. If you work out or exert yourself daily and don’t want to strip your hair by using shampoos every day.
Conditioners are essentially formulated to deliver moisture to the hair shaft and so co-washing can be of great benefit to naturals who often complain about dry, brittle hair. There are other things you can do to keep your hair moisturized for longer and you can check those out over here.
Co-washing with a conditioner that provides a lot of slip makes it very easy to detangle your hair. The moisture provided by the conditioner loosens up knots and makes it easier for you to go in with your fingers and/or a wide-tooth comb and undo said knots.
Co-washing does not have a lot of negative consequences but it does have a few downsides you should be aware of, and they have been outlined below;
- Product build-up
Conditioners are only “mildly cleansing” so they will not do the job for you every time. Co-washing does clean your hair, but conditioners are not formulated for this purpose and so they’re not potent enough to get out all the product build-up you may want to get rid of.
- Excess moisture
This is a thing. Conditioners are made to deliver moisture to your hair shaft. Using them excessively can very well lead to the accumulation of excessive moisture. This will make your hair limp and easily susceptible to breakage.
How to co-wash
There’s no ceremony to this, all you need to do is use a conditioner instead of your regular shampoo. Depending on your preference, you can either use warm or cold water, but it’s better to start with warm water (especially if you have low porosity hair) because it helps to raise the cuticles and allows the conditioner to penetrate easily into the hair shaft. You can then finish by using cool water to rinse out the conditioner.
There are a couple more things to note about co-washing
- Can you co-wash with any conditioner?
Yes, you can, but in certain cases where co-washing every day might be ideal (like working out every day), you’ll need to find a conditioner specifically made for co-washing to avoid the downsides discussed earlier.
- How often should you co-wash your hair
This is entirely up to you, your hair specifics, regimen, and what type of conditioner you use. People with fine low porosity hair are generally not going to benefit from co-washing too regularly. This type of hair is easily weighed down by excess moisture and is also susceptible to product build-up. This doesn’t mean you’re “banned” from co-washing though, just try to apply moderation.
So can co-washing replace shampooing? The straight answer is no. co-washing is just a way to save your hair the stress of being stripped of nutrients too frequently, it is not a replacement for shampooing. You could come up with a regimen that only requires shampooing twice a month and co-wash any other time within the month when you feel like your hair needs a gentle cleaning.
How often do you co-wash? Feel free to say in the comment section.
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