Cowash and allergies

I am about 2 weeks into CG and finding that my scalp itched at first. I was using Suave coconut. I got some Aubrey Organics swimmers conditioner (has protein, but fewer chemicals and gives me dry-looking hair). No better, stinging, itchy scalp and neck. I patch-tested it on my inside-elbow. Itchy.
I never put conditioner on my scalp in the past -- I always heard that would make your scalp greasy. It doesn't, but now I'm going to have to "cook up" my own conditioner recipe because I'm not spending one more minute or lots of dollars searching for products I'm not allergic to (like certain preservatives, some detergents and other things I already knew about).
I am wondering -- has anybody else experienced this? I think it's the emulsifiers in the conditioners (cetyl/cetaryl alcohol). Known to cause contact dermatitis.
I'd appreciate any commiseration or ideas.
I am loving and my emerging curls, lazy as they are!
Finding a conditioner without cetyl or cetaryl alcohol may prove quite difficult (it's called 'coconut fatty acids' in AO stuff - it's the same thing). Just about everything has that, or something similar. What have you been able to use in the past?

Some conditioners don't use cetyl/cetaryl alcohol as a base, but they can be hard to find. Darcy's Botanical's Peach Kernel Hydrating Milk (with glycerin), for example, uses a btms and aloe base (the non-glycerin version uses oils as the base). (actually, I think DB may be your best bet of brands I know of for ones that don't use fatty alcohols in most things).
3b/c. Fine, med-high porosity, normal elasticity. Hair loves oils in summer, protein in winter. Constantly battling the hard water monster.

CJ Curl Theory, Curl Rehab, Smoothing, Curl Fix, Daily Fix, CCCC, CIAB, CQ, SSCC, MC shampoo, Inecto Pure Coconut Oil, CP luscious curl creme (summer), DB Pumpkin Seed (summer), FD/MT, JCWDT, JCTS

American literature PhD student in the UK...
No ideas, but I'll commiserate! I don't have a lot of ingredients issues (concerning allergic reactions, anyway), but I did start having a reaction to Suave conditioners a few weeks after I started co-washing. It didn't seem to matter which one I used; I was always extremely itchy after washing. Not just on my scalp, but on my back and chest too. I switched to V05 conditioners (specifically the protein-free raspberry one) and luckily it stopped.

I'm not sure what the ingredients were that produced that reaction for me, so I'm not sure that doing the same would help you. I hope you find something that works, though!
CG since 6/15/08!
Medium-Fine/Normal Porosity
Curlyjenn10, really interesting that the protein-free VO5 was no problem for you. I was thinking hydrolyzed protein was very close to being hypo-allergenic because it is used in "hypoallergenic" dog kibble. That's a good thing to investigate because there is a little Cetaryl alcohol in a lotion I use and it does not bother my skin.
Oddityofwings, I never put conditioner on my scalp in the past, so I can't say if any others bothered me. I used to apply and rinse out, not rub them into my skin. I know the shampoo I had been using made my neck and shoulders tingle. It has wheat protein in it, come to think of it.
Yeah, my hair is too coarse to handle protein on a regular basis. I think the Suave I had the greatest reaction to was protein-free too, so it probably wasn't a factor.
CG since 6/15/08!
Medium-Fine/Normal Porosity
I'll end this by responding to myself (lame)!
It was the rosemary. Maybe the glycerin too, that makes my skin itch.
Be wary of herbal extracts. Be wary of preservatives. When you find something that doesn't bother your skin, cross your fingers they don't stop manufacturing it!

Last edited by IAgirl; 09-06-2010 at 08:43 PM.
I had a lot of trouble with doing CG as I reacted to all the 'natural' conditioners. Never really found anything that didn't cause itchies and hair loss. A lot of the natural stuff is also very highly perfumed too which I had trouble with.

I can use the more expensive brands (KMS, redken, joico etc) but they aren't CG, so I gave up on CG. KMS Curl shampoo/condish worked really well to settle my scalp down.

The other thing I do is have about 3 different set of shampoo/conditioner in rotation so my head doesn't get a chance to react too badly to anything.

Good luck, it is frustrating!
If you are just two weeks into CG, your scalp and hair are still adjusting. It can take 4 - 6 weeks. If you are cowashing every day, reduce it to only once or twice a week. Water wash the other days, if you need to rewet your hair. Too much cowashing can contribute to itchiness. (I rarely cowash/use conditioner on my scalp, but instead water wash a couple times a week and use an ACV rinse a couple times a month.) You could also try a scalp brush, which can be found at Sally's and some drugstores.
2C wavy with some spirals. CG since April 07. Medium texture and porosity.
COs: Yes to Cucumbers
Stylers: Miss Jessies Coily Custard, KCCC

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