What is co-washing?

Cowashing for wavy curly hair - Hair Romance


What is co-washing and why would you do it?

When you first start looking into curly hair techniques, there’s so much jargon that it’s hard to follow: SOTC, co-wash, STC… the list goes on. I think it’s really confusing and can intimidate beginners.

What is co-washing? Hair Romance Good Hair Q&A series

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Co-washing is a technique that stands for conditioner washing.

It’s where you wash your hair with conditioner instead of regular shampoo and then conditioner. This single step process replaces the routine most of us do.

Washing your hair with conditioner? Does that sound crazy?

It’s not as crazy as it first sounds.

Conditioners also contain cleansing agents so they will clean your hair and they’re gentler on your hair. Strong sulfate shampoos can strip all the oil from your hair and if you have curly or dry hair, this can create a problem.

Washing with conditioner helps to nourish your hair and maintain the natural oil balance of your scalp but the technique for co-washing is often misunderstood.

Co-washing techniques

With shampoo you can just slightly wet your hair, rub product on your scalp, rinse it out and you’re good to go. Shampoo contains wetting agents so it’s easily distributed to your hair and the surfactants quickly and easily clean out the dirt.

With conditioner, however, you need to follow a different routine:

  1. Wet your hair completely
  2. Apply a lot more conditioner than normal. You want to apply it from the root to the tip
  3. Clean your scalp. This is where you will need to do the hard work because the product doesn’t do it for you. You need to spend three to five minutes actively massaging and cleaning your scalp.
  4. Then ensure that you rinse all of the product completely from your hair. Some curly girls would like to leave a little conditioner in their hair but I will make sure to rinse it all from your scalp or you’ll end up with a heavy feeling.

Who is co-washing for?

Co-washing is great if you have naturally curly hair or dry hair.

Who is co-washing not for?

Well some people will say it’s for everybody but some hair types don’t fare so well. It’s not always the best if you have wavy hair, oily hair or fine hair.

Depending on your scalp health, if you have psoriasis or eczema for example, you may need to check before applying so much product directly to your skin. Some people report that it helps and other say that it aggravates so it really is up to you.

Can you use any conditioner?

You need to use a silicone free conditioner for co-washing.

Silicone is removed by sulfate shampoos so if you’re skipping shampoo, you need to avoid silicones or they will build up on your hair.

Some silicones are water soluble but most silicones in conditioner will require shampoo to remove them from your hair.

Silicone free conditioners

The market for silicone-free conditioners is really growing, but here are a few I recommend if you are looking to start:

  • Darshana Conditioner
  • SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Conditioner (in Australia & USA)
  • DevaCurl One Condition

I hope this has helped explain what co-washing is and why you would do it.

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