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Dry hair? Try co-washing for moisturised hair

Co-washing natural hair

Did you know that it is possible to cleanse your hair by skipping the shampoo and using conditioner only? Conditioner washing, commonly referred to as co-washing is  exactly that –  a method of cleansing the hair preferred by many curly girls because of its ability to keep the hair extremely moisturised. Since we already know that water is a naturalista’s best friend, the H2O combined with conditioner create a dream team for detangling and high moisture levels.

How do I co-wash?

Essentially you follow the same process as you would when using shampoo, except that you replace it with conditioner.

Why co-wash?

Most shampoos tend to contain ingredients that are too harsh for the hair. If you’ve ever had that squeaky clean feeling after washing, it’s most likely due to the harsh chemicals which have stripped the hair of not only dirt and product build-up, but also of the scalp’s natural oils (sebum) which can lead to severely dried out tresses. These ingredients include, but are not limited to parabens and sodium laurel sulphate. The sebum already has a harder time reaching the ends of the hair due to navigating the curls’ twist and turns, so this really isn’t good if you’re trying to keep your strands moisturised. No need to add fuel to the fire by stripping your delicate curls  of it protective sebum. 

It is also many naturalistas belief that conditioners contain a small amount of gentle cleansers and that they can and should be used more than shampoo to clean curly hair.

There are a few ways that you can incorporate co-washing into your regime. You can kiss shampoo goodbye completely and only use conditioner, or you can co-wash in between shampoos to freshen up your hair so you don’t have to shampoo as frequently.

Benefits of co-washing

  • Hair remains moisturised for longer.
  • Additional conditioning may help with breakage.
  • Contributes to more bouncy and shiny hair.

Downside of co-washing

  • It may be needed to wash more frequently because shampoo is not being used.
  • It is easier for product build-up to occur on the scalp and hair.
  • Frequent use of conditioner can cause hair to feel stringy and ‘mushy’.

I’d suggest co-washing with a light rinse-out conditioner as deep conditioners tend to me more rich in texture as well as more expensive, so it’s best to  save your luxury products for the deep treatment moments. And if you’ve decided to make co-washing a regular part of your routine, try to avoid products that contain silicones. These ingredients are generally easy to identify on product labels as they end in -cone. Many silicones are synthetic additives that are not water-soluble, making them a little bit harder to wash out without harsh detergents. The end result is yucky build-up on your hair and scalp, and that’s something that no one should have to deal with.

If you don’t want to cut out shampoos completely, I would suggest using any shampoo that’s made  of natural ingredients. I’ve been using Aubrey Organics shampoos and conditioners for quite a while as my staple products and love that my hair has responded to it so well.

As for co-washing, it really does serve as a solid foundation for moisturised hair. If you’ve been struggling with extra dry hair, give this technique a try.  You can only end up with happy and healthy hair.






  1. March 25, 2014 / 10:52 pm

    Agreed, co-washing is the way to go, I try to shampoo only once a month, will start to do once every 6 weeks. Thanks for the informative post dear πŸ™‚

    • March 25, 2014 / 11:06 pm

      Thanks so much Hun. I’m glad you found the information useful πŸ™‚

      • March 26, 2014 / 10:50 am

        πŸ™‚ You are more than welcome my dear πŸ™‚

  2. March 25, 2014 / 11:20 pm

    I haven’t shampooed in months; I exclusively cowash. Great post.

    • March 25, 2014 / 11:23 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m sure your hair is super moisturised for it.

  3. Zetta (Chrizette)
    March 30, 2014 / 2:40 am

    Tx for the post Eleanor! I didn’t know I was co washing the whole time! Lol! Yes, I’ve been co washing for months now! Unintentionally, I must add. πŸ™‚ Since the birth of my baby I haven’t had time for myself or my hair. Can’t remember the last time I shampooed. But I will have to set a date coz I do feel the product build up on my scalp! Nasty! I decided to first finish my stash before investing in all natural ingredients hair care products. I’m almost there! My hair is now 6 months post perm and with the co washing I’ve notice the shine is coming back, but the frizz is still there. I’m learning new things everyday! Tx, once again! Laters! Wink! Thumbs up!! Zetta

    • March 31, 2014 / 6:05 pm

      Hi Chrizette
      Thanks so much for reading and I’m happy that it helped you in some way. Yes, please don’t allow any more product build-up. Try using a good clarifying shampoo or use diluted apple cider vinegar to clear the build-up on your scalp.
      Congrats on the 6-months no relaxer though πŸ™‚ Here’s to healthy hair!

  4. June 28, 2014 / 2:26 pm

    Do you have a great story about how went from regularly rocking all kinds of weaves – silky, wavy, Brazilian Remy – to being a straight up, bonafide naturalista? And, do you have the pictures to prove it? Share your conversion story at http://www.blacknaturalhairstyles.org. We’d love to hear about it.

  5. Gugu Mboweni
    February 11, 2015 / 8:14 pm

    I have decide that this year I will be co-washing more and using lee shampoos! Thanks Eleanor!

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