$5 off today with code: HEY5 | Free US standard shipping | Most orders ship in 7-10 days.

Your cart

Your cart is empty

afro hair wash day tips

The Benefit of Co-Washing Your Curly Hair

If you have been in the natural hair community for a while, you have probably heard of the term co-washing. Plus, the debate on whether it is actually beneficial for our Black curly hair care. Co-washing stands for ‘conditioner only hair washing.’ As the name suggests, it involves using conditioner to cleanse your hair instead of your favorite moisturizing shampoo. So, you might be wondering what all the hype behind co-washing and moisturizing natural hair is, whether it promotes natural hair growth or defines our curls. Why are the tons of articles and YouTube videos urging you to incorporate this step when you are detangling natural hair?  At the same time, why are there articles and videos warning you to steer clear of them? Well, continue reading to find out the five benefits of co-washing your curly hair, how to co-wash, and my tips on whether you should consider adding this technique.

Pros of Co-Washing

1. Keep Your Hair Moisturized and Hydrated

Shampoos are often jampacked with chemicals such as sulfates and parabens designed to lather and thoroughly clean our hair. Unfortunately, these shampoos sometimes do their job a bit too well and end up stripping all our natural oils out of strands, leading to our hair feeling dry, clumpy and/or stringy. That is why co-washing is a perfect addition to Black curly hair care since our hair types are the most prone to dryness, and most conditioners are hydrating in nature. Conditioners, especially moisturizing ones, are designed with ingredients such as humectants that add a layer of hydration to our strands, leaving them plump and soft. Hence if your hair is feeling dry and dirty during the week, instead of using a shampoo that will dry your hair further, try using a 'moisturizing' co-wash to refresh and rejuvenate your hair. 
Ensuring deep conditioning for afro hair is paramount. Make it a priority to incorporate deep conditioning into your hair care routine.

2. Decrease Fairy knots and Easy Detangling

Ahh, fairy knots the inevitable bane for anyone with natural hair. As your main continues to grow longer, your already curly or coily hair will begin to tangle and come together. Sometimes results in fairy knots, tiny knots of tangled hair strands often found at the ends of our hair and the nape near the neckline. Unfortunately, there is no method to remove or prevent these knots from occurring completely, but co-washing might make the process easier. Due to the slip conditioner offer, detangling our hair which, truthfully, is an arm workout by itself, becomes a breeze. Therefore, using a conditioner as a cleanser will make detangling those pesky knots and 'kitchens' easy and is much better than tugging at them, resulting in split ends. Moreover, ensuring your hair is fully detangled post-washing will lower the reoccurrence of fairy knots, especially on kinky curly 4c hair. Make sure to use a moisturizing conditioner that offers your hair plenty of slip to enjoy this benefit co-washing provides fully. We love Design Essentials products for natural hair care.

3. Define those Curls

Considering the combined benefit of hydrated hair and easy detangling, the one thing co-washing is undoubtedly going to achieve is the juicy, popping curly hair definition. We all have curls from looser 3C curls to tighter 4C coils, and co-washing will make sure they stand out since your strands are alive with moisture also are not tangled and clumped together. Co-washing is perfect for those who love their wash-n-go styles and will make the whole process shorter, and more manageable, and leave you with vibrant, defined curly hair.

4. Promote Natural Hair Growth

Since co-washing is a less aggressive form of cleansing your scalp and hair than shampooing, it can help reduce shedding during your wash since regular co-washing will keep your hair healthy and help you retain length due to less shedding. Moreover, as I have mentioned before, co-washing moisturizes your hair, and therefore, you can avoid breakage associated with dry hair. When our hair strands are too dry, they become weak and snap off relatively simply, co-washing reduces the chances of this happening, plus it does not strip our natural hair oils from our scalp. Therefore, our scalps retain the necessary nutrients and fats, our strands stay healthy, which all contribute to promoting natural hair growth.

5. Relief for your Scalp

Our final benefit, which is essential for anyone who is tender-headed or has a sensitive scalp, is a relief to your scalp. Most shampoos require intense scrubbing and lathering, which is good since it effectively removes build-up, though too much of it can irritate the scalp. If you are not careful, over-shampooing can result in dry scalp, flaking, plus bruising if you continuously scrub an already dry scalp. On top of this, shampoos consist of harsh chemicals that may irritate your scalp, making it prone to itchiness. To alleviate this and the presence of dandruff on your scalp, try co-washing instead. Co-washes are much gentler and will not dry or irritate your scalp. For more scalp relief measures check out our wash day post fro tips and tricks.

How to Co-Wash your Hair

If you decide to incorporate co-washing and deep conditioning into your black curly hair care regimen, these are the steps I advise you to follow to reap optimal benefits.
  • Separate your hair into sections, and this will make detangling more manageable and ensure you clean every section of your hair.
  • Soak your hair in warm water to open up your cuticles, plus warm water will help remove build-up
  • Using a generous amount of your co-wash, apply to each section, ensuring it is well coated with the product.
  • Gently massage the conditioner into your scalp using your fingertips while detangling the section in the process
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water
  • Repeat the process if your hair still feels dry or dirty
Now that you know the benefits of co-washing and how to go about it, the only question left is:

To co-wash or not to co-wash?

Although co-washing has excellent benefits, too much of one thing can be a bad thing. Over conditioning, your hair may result in hygral fatigue where your hair is over-moisturized and becomes brittle, dull, and frizzy. Moreover, conditioners can never wholly replace the deep cleanse shampoos offer. They can be too gentle, and conditioners are typically designed to add something to your hair shaft, whether moisture or protein, not take away, thus resulting in more build-up. In such scenarios, co-washing will have the opposite impact, and with clogged hair strands, we might find it difficult to grow our hair.
Finding a middle ground between shampoo deep cleanse but drying nature and co-washes hydrating gentle cleanse is essential. Neither can completely replace the other. Try using shampoos once or twice a month to clean your hair and remove build-up from your scalp thoroughly. In between these deep cleansing wash days, regular co-washing can keep the hair clean, healthy, and rejuvenated.

The decision to co-wash or not is ultimately up to you.

Experiment safely and perhaps try it out and listen to how your hair reacts. Maybe regular shampooing leaves your hair feeling healthy and clean, or co-washing feels transformative, do what makes your hair feel healthy to you. When opting for co-washing, my two cents try to use conditioners designed for cleansing rather than traditional conditioners to ensure you are cleansing your hair in the co-washing process. If you are an avid fan of co-washing, what has been your experience so far, and what are your favorite products? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.
Previous post
Next post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published