Co-Washing: What Is It?
If you're familiar with the natural hair community, then chances are you've heard of this hair care technique and maybe even tried it out. Co-washing, short for "conditioner washing," is when you wash your hair with a cleansing conditioner rather than shampoo. Many shampoos are known to contain ingredients that strip hair strands of the natural oils and nutrients that keep your hair looking shiny, feeling moisturized, and staying healthy. Cleansing conditioners don't contain those harsh sulfates and detergents, so they cleanse the hair without striping the strands. Since women with thick, coarse, and curly hair have the hardest time retaining moisture, it is easy to see why this method of cleansing hair is quite popular among these women.
But the benefits of co-washing have spread like wildfire, and co-washing has become more popular with other hair types as new co-washing products have come about. Co-washing products, while still very popular in the natural hair community, are now becoming popular among women with relaxed, Type 2 wavy/curly, and straight hair types. While it is not typically recommended for women with fine hair, women with fine, dry, and brittle hair are now being encouraged to test out the co-washing technique. If you have fine, oily hair, then you should stick to your normal shampoo and conditioning method unless you are going for the "Greaser" look.
Should I Co-Wash My Hair?
When and how you use co-washing in your hair care routine depends on your hair type. While there are co-washing products for designated hair types, everyone's hair type still needs a different level of co-washing TLC. Make sure to adjust your washing routine or technique to find out what works best for your hair.
Thick, coarse, and curly hair types--especially those with low porosity--have the hardest time absorbing and retaining moisture. Whether your hair is relaxed or natural, co-washing would be very beneficial to add to your regular hair routine. Some women like to co-wash their hair once a week for three weeks and then wash their hair with a clarifying shampoo on the fourth week.
If your hair is very dry, brittle, and damaged, then you most likely have high porosity hair. This means that the cuticles on your hair shaft are raised, which prevents your hair strand from retaining moisture. While you are aiding your hair back to health, the gentle cleansing conditioner will keep your hair fresh without stripping it of the oil and nutrients that it so desperately needs. However, how often you shampoo and condition in-between co-washing will depend on your hair type.
Type 2 curly hair types have started to embrace the co-washing technique. If you have this hair type and your curls tend to get frizzy, cleansing conditioners will leave your tresses feeling and looking smoother.
While some straight hair types have also started to embrace cleansing conditioners, others have been reluctant to test out the waters. However, popular cleansing conditioners, like Wen, have made huge strides within this hair community. One woman stated that co-washing left her hair feeling more textured, which created more angles and volume.
Fine, straight hair types would probably not benefit from co-washing. While there are co-washing products designated for this hair community, cleansing conditioners may leave your hair feeling and looking very oily. You should stick with the shampoo and conditioning method unless your hair is also extremely dry and brittle.
Which Co-Wash Should I Use?
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