When going natural there are quite a few questions you will have about your natural hair. What is a co wash? Do I have to co wash, how often should I co wash and will I never use shampoo again? All are valid questions and while we are all individuals most naturals will try and eventually end up really liking cowashing and incorporate it into their hair washing routine. We are getting into the basics on how to co wash natural hair.
Healthy hair requires cleaning it and while we have always associated washing hair with a shampoo, a cowash sounds unfamiliar and wrong. Well, I am here to tell you your hair is crying for it!
To co wash natural hair is the act of cleansing your hair with a botanical conditioner instead of a shampoo. Shampoo is deeply cleansing the hair and can harm and strip the hair of essential oils. Shampooing too often is actually not good for our curly strands but do not completely remove it from your regimen. Co washing can cut down on how often a Natural needs to shampoo and since it mildly cleanses the hair, some Naturals have stopped using shampoo altogether.
I still shampoo but only once in a while to either clarify or when I’ve gone too long between cleanings. I don’t repeat as most Shampoo instructions specify but I did when I was relaxed. I find I’m not using harmful products on my hair so one application of shampoo wash is sufficient. Everyone has their own technique but here’s the jist of how to co wash natural hair:
- I jump in the shower and allow the water to penetrate my hair thoroughly and part my hair into four sections.
- I apply my staple cleanser of As I Am Coconut CoWash and use like a shampoo. To keep tangles at bay I use my fingertips in a downward motion and make sure to hit my scalp while allowing the cleansing conditioner to slide down my hair.
- I allow it to sit on my hair while I cleanse my body before rinsing out and applying my deep conditioner.
There are popular co-washing conditioners that many naturals love like As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner or SHEAMOISTURE COWASH CONDITIONING CLEANSER but honestly just about every hair brand has one. You can also just use a botanical conditioner to cleanse and that just means it contains high concentrations of plant-based ingredients such as mint, lemongrass, or even rosemary.
Is saying whenever it is dirty too simplified? Well, the real answer is not far from that. Honestly, you should wash hair when dirty but many women opt for once a week or bi-weekly. Our hair does not need to be cleaned daily (that will only dry it out) but we cannot allow it to stay dirty too long. That’s for the ones out there only washing once a month. No bueno!
I cleanse with a co wash weekly and do a deep cleansing with a Shampoo every 2 to 3 weeks unless I pile on the silicones and then need to use the clarifying shampoo sooner. If unsure, try weekly and see how your hair responds to it and tweak accordingly. The bottom line is you have to find what works for you, your hair and your schedule but daily or more than twice a week is too often and monthly is too infrequently!
Remember, co washing is essential to getting natural hair cleaned without stripping your tresses of the oils it needs to stay moisturized and frizz-free but shampoos still have a place in a naturals routine. They are needed to clarify (completely remove buildup from hair) and there are some mild or sulfate-free shampoos like Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo or SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo that are excellent and popular shampoos to give a try.
Have you tried a cowash yet? What is your favorite? Share below?