What Does Co-Wash Mean? Should You Try This Technique On Your Hair?

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If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for the newest hair tips, tricks, and products that stop frizzy, dry, and lifeless curls.

Unfortunately, that also means you have a bunch of different shampoos and conditioners on your bathroom shelf. So if you’re frustrated and tired of spending money on hair products that don’t work, you might be intrigued by co-washing.

Cowash Meaning: Otherwise known as conditioner washing, this hair care technique has surged in popularity in recent years, especially among people with curly hair.

This blog post will explore what does co wash mean, the pros and cons of cowashing, and whether or not you should consider incorporating it into your hair care routine.

What Does Cowash Mean?

CoWashing Your Hair

Simply put, co-washing is a hair care method that involves using conditioner to wash your hair. With this technique, you forego the shampooing stage altogether and use a special type of conditioner to deep cleanse.

If done right, co-washing can revive your lifeless hair. Now, if you’re still on the fence, wondering if co-washing is right for you, here are a few benefits your hair can reap if you try it.

Read: Bring out your confidence & inner strength through Great Hair, Naturally. See how Hair La Vie can help you achieve your best hair.

The Benefits of Co-washing

The Benefits Of Cowashing

  • It helps to retain natural oils

One of the biggest benefits of co-washing is that it helps retain natural oils in your hair.

Unlike your regular shampoo, which contains harsh detergents and leaves your hair feeling brittle and dry, a co-wash is gentler and cleanses without stripping your hair of its natural oils.

  • Reduces irritation

 If you’re struggling with scalp irritation, co-washing could be a great choice. As stated above, traditional shampoos contain harsh detergents that can be a nuisance, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Because conditioners are generally designed to repair and moisturize, you’ll experience lesser irritation on your scalp.

  • It hydrates your hair

Another benefit that comes with co-washing is that it promotes hydration. Conditioners add moisture to your hair, preventing dryness and frizz. This is particularly the case for people whose hair boasts a curly pattern that tends to be prone to dryness.

By using a conditioner to wash your curly or textured hair, you can help keep it hydrated, resulting in healthier-looking strands.

Co-washing vs. Shampooing vs. Conditioning

Now that you’re aware of some of the benefits of co-washing, one debate that might arise is whether to co-wash, shampoo, or condition your hair.

It’s important to note that your hair goes through different phases every month, so you can’t pick and stick to one regimen throughout. You might need to switch things up depending on the health and condition of your hair.

Each of these methods has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand the differences to determine what works best for your hair.


Shampooing is the most widely embraced method for cleansing hair.

Shampoos contain detergents that remove dirt, oil, and product buildup from your scalp and hair, making them a great option if your hair is too oily or if you use many styling products.

However, most shampoos contain sulfates which are harsh detergents that can wash off natural oils resulting in brittle and dry hair.

Although you can opt for sulfate-free shampoo, they don’t lather up well and may not be as effective, especially if your scalp has a lot of buildups.


Conditioning is one of the most important steps in any hair care routine, regardless of the curl pattern. It helps restore the moisture and nutrients that might have been stripped away during shampooing.

Conditioners are designed to hydrate, moisturize, and soften your hair which helps with reducing frizz and makes your hair more manageable.

Most conditioners also help to repair the hair, especially if they contain protein such as keratin.

Conditioning is great for all hair types but is particularly crucial for damaged and dry hair.

If your hair is oily, you don’t need to use a conditioner with every wash, as too much moisture will leave your hair looking and feeling greasy.


Co-washing is an alternative to shampooing, and it can be very beneficial if your hair is damaged, dry, or has a tight pattern, such as 4c.

Co-washing leaves your hair moisturized and manageable. But it might only effectively remove some buildup and oils from the scalp and might not be an option if you have oily hair.

That means co-washing cannot entirely replace shampooing but reduces the need to cleanse with shampoo.

Best Conditioners for Co-washing

How To Condition Your Hair

  • The Moisturizing ingredients

It would be best to look for a co-washing conditioner containing moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, jojoba oil, avocado, or coconut oil. These ingredients will help hydrate your hair and leave it feeling soft and easy to manage.

  • Cleansing agents

A good co-washing conditioner must have gentle cleansing agents that effectively remove dirt, product buildup, and excess oils without stripping away the natural oils that your hair needs to stay healthy.

This is why your regular conditioner might not be effective as a co-washing conditioner because it contains significantly lower amounts of cleaning agents such as sulfates.

A co-washing conditioner should be less harsh than shampoo but slightly stronger than traditional conditioners. 

  • Silicone-free

If co-wash is a firm favorite in your hair regime, avoid silicone. 

While it’s one of the most active ingredients in conditioners, silicone can build up on your hair and scalp over time because most of these are synthetic additives that might not be water-soluble.

That said, not all silicone are bad. Some co-wash may contain silicones like dimethicone, which can help smooth and protect hair from damage.

  • Protein

A good co-wash should contain proteins like keratin, collagen, and wheat protein which can help repair damaged hair by filling in gaps in the hair shaft and strengthening hair strands.

Step By Step How to Co-Wash

Step 1: Choose the right conditioner

Choosing the right conditioner is paramount to getting satisfactory results from co-washing. Look for a conditioner labeled as “co-wash” or “cleansing conditioner.”

Step 2: Wet your hair

Wet your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water. Make sure that your hair is completely wet before applying the conditioner.

Step 3: Apply the conditioner

 Apply the conditioner to your hair from the roots to the ends. Use your fingers to massage your scalp and distribute the conditioner evenly throughout your hair. You can use as much conditioner as needed.

Step 4: Leave it on for a few minutes

 Allow the conditioner to sit on your hair for a few minutes. This will give it time to penetrate your hair and scalp and remove dirt or buildup.

Step 5: Rinse your hair

Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water, making sure to remove all the conditioner.

When And How Often Should You Co-wash?

How often you should co-wash depends on several factors, including your hair type and texture. But as a general guideline, you can co-wash once or twice a week if you have curly or kinky hair.

If you have a straight or wavy hair type, co-washing shouldn’t be as frequent, so you could try it once every two weeks or less frequently.

What are the Drawbacks of Co-Washing?

  • Inadequate cleansing

Conditioner is less effective than shampoo when removing oil, dirt, and other impurities from your hair and scalp. Therefore, co-washing may not be enough to keep your hair clean if you have a super oily scalp or hair that tends to get dirty quickly.

  • Buildup

Another drawback of consistently doing co-washing is buildup.

Over time, conditioner can build up on your hair and scalp, leaving a residue that can weigh your hair down and make it feel greasy. This can be especially problematic if you have fine or thin hair.

  • Not suitable for all hair types

 Co-washing may not work for everyone, especially if you have thin oily hair, a lot of product buildup, or if you have a scalp condition such as dandruff or psoriasis.


Co-washing can be a valuable addition to your hair routine as it can help maintain moisture, reduce breakage, and improve overall hair health.

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