What is Co-Washing and Should You Try it?

Jun. 20, 2018Curly girls unite — co-washing is the latest craze in haircare, and it’s producing moisture-rich, frizz-free locks that have people raving about this simple technique. But what the heck is it, and why are people so obsessed with co-washing?

I dig into how it actually works, which products you use, and which hair types are best suited for it. Spoiler alert: there’s a package-free product for that.


What Is Co-Washing?

Co-washing is simple enough: washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. That’s right — you just massage some conditioner into your hair and scalp, let it sit for a few minutes, and rinse it out. Sorry ‘boutya shampoo.

The truth is, in a society that has normalized the daily shower and shampoo, most people are overdoing it by throwing harsh hair and body detergents into the mix. Every day, our scalps produce natural oils that travel down the strands of our hair to keep them moisturized enough to prevent breakage.

When we shampoo our hair, we strip all of those natural oils away, and our bodies have to constantly start from scratch. The result is often hair that’s moisture deprived and has to have it artificially added back in with additional hair care products.

So what if we eliminated the shampoo? It’s not for everybody, but co-washing removes a factor from our hair care routine that could actually be causing us to spend more time and money on maintenance, not less.

Get second-day hair every time you wash, and give your hair a break from the surfactants in shampoo.

What Types of Hair Should Be Co-Washed?

It goes without saying that every hair type requires its own custom approach to care — co-washing is healthier for most hair types on the surface, but it may not produce more manageable, attractive hair for everyone.

Co-washing is ideal for people with curly hair that tends to dry out really easily. The natural oils on our scalps have a harder time making it through all of those twists and turns, and the result for curly-haired people is often frizzy hair with ends that fray all too quickly.

People with naturally oily or fine hair may struggle with co-washing or find that it leaves too much oil behind in their hair. Additionally, if you struggle with skin or scalp conditions, co-washing can sometimes exacerbate those.


What Should You Use to Co-Wash Your Hair?

Co-washing your hair is usually as simple as finding a conditioner you really love and going with that, but since we’re nixing shampoo from the picture, there’s one thing to keep in mind: product buildup.

Yucky synthetics like silicones can create water insoluble buildup on hair that causes it to feel tacky and greasy without the help of a shampoo to cut through the gunk. Be sure to avoid conditioners with any ingredients ending in ‘cone’ to keep the buildup at bay.

Here are three different products you can use to co-wash your hair:

#1 — Plain ol’ conditioner: Remember to keep it silicone free!

#2 — Co-wash specific product: Companies like LUSH make some great co-washes designed just for this purpose!

#3 — Cleansing co-wash: For those with naturally oily hair or for whom conditioner is just proving to be too much on their hair alone, cleansing co-washes are a happy medium. Typically an 80/20 split of conditioner and shampoo, they offer just enough shampoo to lighten hair sensitive to too much moisture.

There’s an AWESOME Cleansing Avocado Co-Wash Bar by LUSH that’s silicone-free, doesn’t come in a plastic bottle, and like all of their products, is never tested on animals.

How Often Should You Co-Wash?

Co-washing is a dramatically different type of hair care than your standard shampoo/conditioner routine and one that you’ll have to feel out for yourself to determine how it’s going to work for your hair.

Depending on your hair type and climate, you might be able to go a week without washing your hair, whereas oilier scalps and more humid climates may require you to co-wash every other day. Keep tabs on how your hair feels between washes. Spongy hair might indicate that you’re overdoing it, whereas more brittle hair with greasy roots could indicate that you’re not co-washing often enough.


Have you ever tried co-washing? Tell us about your routine on Facebook or Instagram and tag us in the post! @AvocadoGreenMagazine or #AvocadoGreenMagazine


Destiny Hagest

By Destiny Hagest

 —  Destiny is a freelance writer with a background in sustainability and natural health. She lives in the mountains of central Montana with her husband and young son. When she's not writing or chasing her toddler, you can find her wandering the quiet wilderness in search of wild herbs and antler sheds.

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