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

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You may have heard the word “Co-Wash” many times before. But, if you are not into fashion and styling, then chances are, you may be asking the question: what does “Co-Wash” mean?

In simple terms, Co-washing means to ‘cleanse‘ and wash your hair with a conditioner alone. It is basically a sud-free method of cleansing your hair and getting rid of dirt and grease without the use of shampoo.

If your hair is afro, extremely dry, very curly, or mixed texture, it can be quite advantageous for you to try a Co-Washing technique. It involves the use of a specially made creamy hair cleanser to remove dirt, debris, and grease buildup without using harsh ingredients (such as parabens or sulfates) or lathering, unlike many shampoos.

It is worth noting that you cannot use regular conditioners for this process. Instead, specific mild cleansing conditioners are available for the process of Co-Washing of your hair.

How To Co-Wash Your Hair Properly

What Does Co-Wash Mean?

Removing shampoo from your regular hair care routine needs adjustments in how you condition and cleanse your hair If you are planning to try this technique, below is a step-by-step guideline on how to do your Co-Washing for the best results.

Saturate Your Hair Thoroughly Using Water

When doing a Co-Wash, your hair needs to be sopping wet. This step removes any debris or dirt in the hair, making it easy to wash out. Also, saturating your hair with water ensures that the Co-Wash conditioner will be evenly distributed when you apply it to your hair.

Use A Healthy Amount Of A Suitable Conditioner

When Co-Washing your hair, you need to apply the conditioner from the root to the tip of your hair strands. Haircare experts and stylists also add that some people might need a golf ball-sized quantity of the conditioner. This may seem like a lot of conditioner but it’s important to realize that it is acting as both “shampoo” and conditioner in one.


Massage Your Scalp With The Conditioner

Doing this will assist in breaking down the oils and other residue caused by various hair styling products. After massaging, let the conditioner rest for about three to five minutes for better absorbance.

You should leave the conditioner for an even longer time if your hair is somewhat damaged or dry. By doing this, the conditioner acts like a mask. You can now wash off, dry out, and style your hair as before. Resultantly, you’ll be able to do well with less amount of styling product as the hair is less arid and more receptive.

Apply A Suitable Clarifying Shampoo Every 2-4 Weeks

Buildup from conditioner, styling products, or sweat is unavoidable, regardless of whether you Co-Wash, or shampoo your hair. You can decide how frequently you should clarify your hair based on your experiments.

Mostly, once every fortnight or month would do fine without causing your hair to dry out. If you still feel your hair is weighed down with a biweekly clarifying, you should alternate between shampooing and Co-Washing, as needed.

This way, you harness the advantages of Co-Washing with improved hair volume.

Note: A clarifying shampoo is one that deep cleans or purifies your hair by removing stubborn grease, dirt, and other residue using a unique formula. They are different from regular shampoo in that they don’t contain detergents like sulfates that remove natural oils from your hair.

Who Should Avoid Co-Washing?

People with straight and fine hair do not need to try Co-Washing. Also, if you have dermatitis or oily scalp should stay away from this procedure.

As the stylists say; Co-Washing alone cannot correctly cure either condition. In these conditions, Jeannette Graf, a dermatologist based in New York City, suggests you follow your regular shampoo-then-conditioning hair care routine.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to co-washing your hair, there are a few general mistakes that can ruin the technique and even give you a bad hair day. Luckily, we have jotted them down below so that you can avoid them and get the best possible results from your hair care routine.

  • Do not use a heavy product for Co-Washing your hair. In the market, there are many light conditioners particularly formulated for the Co-Washing; go for them.
  • Do not forget to apply the product evenly to your scalp when using it in your hair.
  • The usage of heavy styling products is also prohibited as they cause a considerable buildup in your hair.
  • Select a conditioner, keeping in view the ingredients that suit your hair and scalp the best.

The Pros And Cons Of Co-Washing

Like any other technique, Co-Washing also has its drawbacks and benefits. It would help if you had a complete understanding of both before you decide whether you should go for it or not. We describe different pros and cons related to the process of Co-Washing your hair. Please go through them all to see what works for you!

Pros of Co-Washing your hair

The Pros
  • There are many health benefits of Co-Washing your hair. For example, Co-Washing permits the natural oils to condition and cleanse the scalp and hair.
  • Using shampoo frequently can damage the hair because of the harsh chemical ingredients. So, Co-Washing offers the best conditioning solution for your hair, providing light cleansing agents.
  • Along with improving hair health, Co-Washing also eases the hairstyling process. So, stylists recommend Co-Washing your hair if you want to go for an intricate hairstyle.

Cons of Co-Washing your hair

The Cons
  • After cowashing, some people may experience their hair feeling heavy and dull.
  • Also, some people experience a bit of pungent smell in their hair, instead of clean and fresh like when you would shampoo your hair.
  • Due to excessive Co-Washing, the hair follicles might not breathe up to their healthy and fast hair growth requirements. So, if you want to grow your hair long, Co-Washing is not a trend you should follow at this time.

Bottom Line

Natural hair, curly and coarse hair, in particular, is typically dryer compared to the other hair types. So, Co-Washing is the solution in this case. Co-Washing helps to lock in moisture and increase the strength of your hair.

Keep in mind that Co-Washing is different from regular conditioning of the hair. Nothing hydrates your hair as effectively as Co-Washing does! So, if you have dry and curly hair, it would be a good idea to try a cowashing technique.

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