Co-washing is short for “conditioner-only washing.” It means not using any shampoo but only conditioner to rinse your hair and cleanse your scalp. When you co-wash your hair you will soften it and hydrate it. This is quite different than using a harsh sulfate-filled shampoo that strips hair of its natural oils.
And because oil helps break down oil, your co-wash will still dissolve some scalp oils and cleanse your hair, but you will need to spend at least 2-3 minutes massaging your co-wash into your scalp and another minute to really rinsing it out.
Can you co-wash with any conditioner? Yes, you can, but some conditioners are better formulated specifically to cleanse your scalp rather than just moisturizing it. A cleansing conditioner or a co-wash will have in its composition super-gentle, surfactant-like ingredientes that help break down oils and have that "clean feeling".
What types of hair benefit most from co-wash?
Textured hair, extremely dry hair and color-processed hair benefit the most from co-washing as this method retains moisture without stripping hair of its natural oils. Will co-washing make my hair greasy?
This answer will depend on your hair type and the co-wash you're using. However, you may find your hair to be a bit greasy for the first weeks as your scalp and hair are going through an adjustment period. The best way is to test it for a few weeks and understand how your hair reacts. And if your hair is especially fine or oily, try using instead a sulfate-free shampoo once a week to break down buildup and get that super-clean feeling again.
Is Co-Washing for everyone?
No. People with waves or very fine curls may not be able to comfortable co-wash regularly without feeling their hair weighed down. Those with an oily scalp or dermatitis should steer clear of this method as it won't treat either condition. In these cases, you should use your regular shampoo and conditioner.
HOW TO Co-Wash Hair 1. Fully saturate your hair with water. The strands should be extremely wet so it's easier to rinse out and evenly distribute the product throughout the hair. 2. Squeeze out a good amount of conditioner. You are cleansing your hair, not just conditioning so you need to use enough to coat strands from root to tip. 3. Massage the conditioner into the scalp for 3-5 minutesand distribute evenly through the ends. This will help break down oils and any residue left over from styling products. 4. Use a clarifying shampoo once every few weeks. There might be product buildup so you should clarify your hair - you should experiment with how frequently your hair needs this. If your hair still feels weighed down after biweekly clarifying, alternate between co-washing and shampooing. Choosing the Right Conditioner
If your hair is on the thicker side, your daily conditioner might be enough - just make sure to avoid the ones with silicones as they can build up and weigh down your hair.
If your hair isn’t as thick, a product with gentle cleansers is probably better for you- they are usually labelled as co-wash or cleansing conditioner. My top favourites are these three: