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Co-Washing 101: Cleansing Your Hair With Conditioner-Only

Co-washing is finally getting the credit it rightly deserves.

Hair

Co-washing has been around for quite some time, especially in the natural hair community but it has recently become mainstream and is finally getting the credit that it deserves. Simply put, co-washing is a fancy word for washing your hair with a conditioner. In other words, you are replacing your traditional shampoo with a conditioner that can both cleanse and moisturize your hair.

Traditionally, shampoo consists of sulfates (i.e. what causes your shampoo to create suds) that can often strip your hair of its natural oils. Washing your hair with a conditioner eliminates that factor and nourishes your hair while it cleans. Read on to learn more about co-washing and why cleansing your hair with conditioner-only should absolutely be the wave.

Who Should Co-Wash:

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Co-washing works best for those with dry, curly, kinky-curly, and/or coarse hair. It works best for these hair types because it's more difficult for the natural oils produced in your scalp to reach curly and kinky-curly strands by pure design. Oils have a much harder time traveling down the hair shaft of a curl than it does the hair shaft of straight hair. Co-washing also works well for those with color-treated hair, as color-treated hair tends to be on the drier side. The last thing that dry hair needs is to be made even more dry by a shampoo with sulfates. If you have very fine, straight, or oily hair, you may want to steer clear from co-washing as it can tend to weigh your hair down.

How Do I Co-Wash:

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The number of times you co-wash your hair is very similar to how you wash your hair with a traditional shampoo. What some people like to do is limit their hair to a thorough cleanse with shampoo once every 4-6 weeks, while co-washing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The consistency varies depending on how often you experience buildup from the products you place in your hair during everyday styling or based on your hair routine.

When it comes to how to co-wash your hair, it is also recommended that you check the instructions on the product for any product-specific instructions but below is a general guideline:

  1. Thoroughly wet your hair. If you're a sections person, section your hair before working in the conditioner to begin your co-wash.
  2. Apply the co-wash to your scalp.
  3. Gently massage your scalp using the tips of your fingers so as not to rip your hair with your nails.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Repeat if you'd like.

What Products Should I Use:

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Co-washing has come a long way since I went natural over 10 years ago. Back then, we were slathering any old conditioner on our hair and calling it a day. However, nowadays many companies have jumped on the co-washing bandwagon and have incorporated actual co-washing products into their product lines. These products are specifically formulated to cleanse your scalp and hair better than a traditional conditioner can.

It's important to add that most people that co-wash their hair still occasionally use a clarifying shampoo to be sure that they have thoroughly cleansed their scalps to avoid product buildup.

To assist you in your co-washing endeavors, I've gathered five co-washes that have received great reviews for you to try.

Check them out below:

  1. Pantene Pro V Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-WashAvailable at Target
  2. As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Cream ConditionerAvailable at Target
  3. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning CleanserAvailable at Target
  4. Ouidad Curl Immersion No Lather Coconut Cream Cleansing ConditionerAvailable at Ulta
  5. Mielle Organics Detangling Co-WashAvailable at Sally Beauty

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