Co-washing! Does it work?

Co-washing, the method of washing your hair with purely conditioner and no shampoo is something I was fairly dubious about. I had grown up being told to wash hair thoroughly with shampoo and to put conditioner on afterwards without interfering with it too much before rinsing out. So when I started hearing about the co-wash method I assumed it was a fad dreamt up by some natural hair blogger trying to get recognised for creating something ingenious that probably didn’t work.

However, the furore didn’t die down and bloggers and natural hair enthusiasts were still raving about the process quite some time after I initially heard about it. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided to give it a whirl. I read that shampoo strips hair of natural moisture and as such individuals like myself with dry hair can find co-washing leaves their hair feeling softer as you remove the oil stripping process.

I have always worn my hair natural and have constantly experimented with different products many of which are not organic. I never prescribed to the concept of natural hair meaning all natural products and although I have used organic products, I don’t use them as a rule. That being said, the first few times I tried co-washing, I used my standard non organic conditioners.

It felt really weird washing my hair without shampoo and I missed the lather and bubbles that it created in my afro. The creamy conditioner felt nice but it felt wrong rubbing it into my hair instead of slapping it on and covering it with a plastic bag as I would normally do. However, once I washed it out I was pleasantly surprised. Firstly my hair had formed lots of ringlets on the end. When I wash my hair with shampoo it usually forms a dense shrunken, crinkly afro. Therefore the appearance of curls pleased me immensely. Secondly I was surprised by the fact that my hair was actually clean. I scratched my scalp numerous times to check for flaking and there was none present.

So the method passed the wash test, but would it pass the “still feels nice when it’s dry test”. I decided to let my hair dry naturally for a change and used an organic moisture sealant by Eden2Eden. I flat twisted my hair whilst wet and took it out the next day. I was once again surprised by how soft it felt. The moisture sealant had a part to play in that but if the co-wash hadn’t worked regardless of what product I put on afterwards it would have most definitely been dry and brittle feeling.

I have co-washed several times since then but I still use mostly shampoo to wash my hair. There is just something comforting about shampoo and the bubbles. However, I definitely would recommend trying a co-wash. Particularly if you have a husband like mine who uses your shampoo and leaves the empty bottle in the bathroom for you to discover once you have wet your hair to wash.

Contributor – Daniella Genas