Over the past few years, co-washing has become popular in the curly hair community. Co-washing is also known as a no-shampoo method or cleansing conditioning. Co-washing is done using conditioner, cleansing conditioner, also known as "co-wash." Some curly girls solely rely on co-washing, while some switch between co-washing and shampooing. Personally, I do not strictly a co-wash because I use shampoo in my haircare regimen. While there are many pros to co- washing, such as making your curls easier to style, adding more moisture, giving you shine, and taming frizz, there are also some common problems with co-washing that are important for you to be aware of.
This is the number one concern with co-washing. If you only co-wash your hair, you may have lots of product buildup. This will probably mean that you will need to use shampoo and clarify your hair to remove the product buildup. Clarifying your hair is not a bad thing if it is done correctly. You shouldn’t clarify your hair on a regular basis, but it needs to be done occasionally or when necessary to properly remove product buildup.
If you tend to have a very sensitive scalp, strictly co-washing may become difficult. If there is still product buildup left in your hair after you wash, it may begin to irritate your scalp. If you find that your scalp is not responding well to co-washing, you may need to stop and clarify your hair. Tea tree oil will help to keep the irritation at bay. It helps to remove dirt on the scalp and creates a favorable environment for a healthy scalp.
Some curly girls who co-wash often find that their hair and roots are excessively oily. Sometimes if you co-wash on a regular basis, it may take time for your hair and scalp to adjust to strictly co-washing. I suggest you observe your scalp to see if there are changes any as your hair gets used to co-washing. If you notice that your hair is not getting better, only co-washing may not be the route for you. You can try switching up between co-washing bi-weekly and using a sulfate-free shampoo to see if the oiliness improves over time.
If you are a curly girl that co-washes on a regular basis, you may want to avoid non-water soluble silicones. If you only co-wash, silicones will begin to buildup on your hair. The coating of silicones will prevent moisture, good oils, and proteins from entering the hair shaft, in turn leading to drier hair and breakage. If you only co-wash, you need to look for products that only contain water-soluble silicones.
Remember that moisture is very important for your curls, but too much moisture isn’t good for your hair. If you co-wash too much and you are not allowing your hair to dry between your wash sessions, you can over moisturize your hair. If you notice that your hair is mushy and limp, you may need to balance your hair with a protein deep conditioner.
Co-washing isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t do it all the time. I feel like strictly co-washing does not completely cleanse my hair, so I do wash with shampoo more often than co-washing. It’s important that you are paying attention to your hair and removing product buildup. Remember just because you see other curly girls swear by a certain routine or product does not mean it will work for you like it worked for them.
Do you exclusively co-wash? Have you encountered any problems with co-washing?