Everything You Need to Know About Co-Washing Natural Hair

Using traditional shampoos can result in bad hair days. They can leave your hair tangled, feeling dry, and strip your hair of its natural oils after each wash.

Most shampoos contain drying agents that remove much-needed moisture and damage hair strands. Therefore, we recommend embracing the co-washing technique as a better option for natural hair. This technique clarifies and cleanses the hair and scalp.

If you are considering adopting co-washing into your natural hair routine, we will show you some easy steps on how to co-wash your natural hair for a healthier hair journey.

What Is Co-Washing?

Co-washing is short for conditioner washing. It is simply washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. This technique can be a helpful addition to your healthy hair routine as it allows your natural hair to remain moisturized, retain its length, and thrive.

You might be excited about washing your hair because it makes it feel soft, shiny, and moisturized, and your natural afro looks great. However, if you wash your hair with shampoo every week, your hair might feel dry, brittle, and dull within three days or more, even if it's clean.

This happens because the shampoo you use contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), which is a harsh cleaning agent that removes the moisture your hair needs and causes split ends over time.

To avoid this problem, you can try a co-wash routine. Co-washing softens, hydrates, and moisturizes your hair, leaving it looking and feeling great every time. It's also useful for washing clip-ins, natural hair extensions or bundles.

If you have thick hair, use a regular conditioner to co-wash your hair. If your hair is not thick, use a co-washing cleanser instead. It is designed to work better for co-washing.

Unlike traditional conditioners, co-washing cleansers contain more cleansing agents in the form of natural ingredients like aloe vera. These ingredients gently remove dirt from the hair and scalp.

When you use a conditioner, check the ingredients. If you co-wash a lot, don't use conditioners with silicone or protein.

Most silicones don't dissolve in water, so they can create a heavy layer on your hair that is hard to wash out without the use of harsh detergents.

To keep your curls healthy, moisturized, and defined, it's best to co-wash at least once a week.

Benefits of Co-washing Natural Hair

1. Helps with moisture retention

Co-washing helps to retain moisture in natural hair. Shampoos can strip the hair of its moisture, but a good co-wash conditioner hydrates the hair and helps it retain moisture more effectively.

2. Prevents dry, frizzy hair

Sulfate shampoos leave the hair squeaky clean, but they also strip the hair and scalp of their natural oils. These oils, produced by our hair follicles, are important because they keep our curls healthy and moisturized.

Using these shampoos all the time can prevent oils from reaching the ends of your hair. when your hair is not moisturized, they become dry and frizzy, and may even break off. Co-washing your hair can prevent this from happening.

3. Reduces hair breakage and shedding

Dry hair is prone to excessive breakage. Switching to a co-washing routine can help add moisture to your strands and keep your hair cuticles strong. When your ends are healthy and well-nourished through co-washing, your hair becomes less prone to breakage or shedding.

4. Makes detangling easy

Detangling can be a lot of work, especially for very tight coils. Using a co-wash with good slip can make all the difference in the detangling process.

Co-washing the hair helps to loosen up those annoying single-strand knots and tangles, making them easier to manage.

5. Adds shine to the hair

Co-washing not only moisturizes the hair, but it also adds shine. The more you co-wash, the more hydrated and shiny your hair will be. Additionally, co-washing can result in softer strands and better curl definition.

What you Need to Co-Wash your Natural Hair

  1. Conditioner or co-washing cleanser
  2. Wide-tooth comb
  3. Water
  4. Old t-shirt 

How to Co-Wash your Natural Hair

  1. Start with damp hair. Be sure to wet your hair before applying conditioner to distribute it evenly throughout your hair.
  2. Part your hair into four sections.
  3. Take one section and divide it into smaller sections. Apply conditioner or co-washing cleaner to each section from root to tip, making sure to cover all of the hair.
  4. Run your hands through your hair and finger detangle the section of hair.
  5. With your fingertips, massage and cleanse your scalp gently to stimulate blood flow through the scalp.
  6. Comb through the hair with a wide-tooth comb and put it into a twist.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 with the remaining sections of hair.
  8. When finished, wash your hair while it's still in twists to make it more manageable and easier to style.
  9. Thoroughly wash your hair by putting your fingers between the twists to remove any product buildup or grime. It's better to wash your hair under the shower, so water can flow through it.
  10. Dry your hair with an old T-shirt. Don’t use a towel because its friction on the hair causes your strands to split.
  11. Once your hair is dry, style it as desired.

If you want to learn more about co-washing, check out @NaturallyPhilo's video tutorial on how to co-wash your natural hair the right way.