As I’ve gotten older, my hair has changed tremendously. In the past ten years, my naturally loose waves have blossomed into full blown frizzy curls, and my once dreadfully oily locks now constantly beg for moisture. One friend recommended that I start co-washing, or conditioner washing, solely using conditioner to wash my hair. Since most conditioners contain some type of cleansing agent in them already, this method has been popular in the curly hair community to clean while keeping hair hydrated with minimum frizz.
I wanted to find out more, so I spoke to Taryn Devlin, hairstylist and cosmetologist at Best Face Forward Makeup Studio in Brooklyn, NY, who told me all I needed to know about the hair care regimen. Read on to discover if you, too, should start co-washing your hair.
What is co-washing?
Taryn: Co-Washing is a method of cleansing your hair with a cleansing conditioner or regular conditioner instead of shampooing. Eliminating shampoo may sound absurd to most, but this method of cleansing– if done correctly– can be beneficial to your hair! Adding co-washing to your hair regimen is perfect if you have locks that tangle and/or dry out after a shampoo.
Should I be co-washing my hair?
Co-washing is ultimately meant to cure dry and damaged hair, so if your hair is dry in general or from chemical treatments like relaxers or colors, co-washing can restore the moisture you’re looking for. If you have oily hair, co-washing is not for you. Oily hair types require shampooing to get your hair back from stringy to fluffy, and co-washing simply won’t cut it. If you have any abnormal skin conditions on your scalp, co-washing may irritate or even worsen it. If you’re prescribed any shampoo by a dermatologist, never eliminate it to co-wash!
What types of conditioners can I use?
While there are tons of cleansing conditioners popping up in salons and drugstores, you can always use a regular one, too. However, you’ll want to avoid conditioners with silicone ingredients, as these will actually build up on your scalp instead of cleanse it. Silicone or synthetic ingredients usually end in -cone. Also, deep conditioners are not for co-washing. Deep conditioners contain more ingredients that stick to your hair and are meant to treat freshly shampooed tresses. Whether you use cleansing conditioner or a regular one, the majority of the conditioner should always be rinsed out of your hair.
How frequently should I co-wash my hair?
The idea in co-washing is to add moisture to your hair and cleanse, whereas shampooing is primarily to cleanse only. So anyone who co-washes should do so in relation to how dry your hair is after it’s been a few days since the last co-wash. That could range from a few days to a week or two, it’s all about getting to know your hair type.
Do I stop using shampoo altogether?
When it comes down to it, shampooing will ALWAYS cleanse your hair better than co-washing, which is why you should not totally eliminate shampoo. Shampoo offers a fresh, full cleansing of your hair and scalp. Using a sulfate free shampoo every so often in between co-washing will help your efforts be more effective. It will relieve any temporary irritation on your scalp like itching, or mild dandruff, as well as remove the excess build up that co-washing won’t get over a period of time. Shampoo cleanses better than co-washing, and co-washing cleanses better than water. If your hair starts to feel mushy or stretchy, this is because— like any wet treatment on your hair— water breaks down the follicles, making your hair very fragile. At this point, a shampoo sesh will be needed.
I’ve learned that my thick mane only needs to be washed about once a week in order for it to feel clean and healthy. I think I’ll start co-washing every other week, and will update you in the months to come!
Do you have any experience in co-washing your hair? Have you seen a difference?