Short for conditioner-only washing, co-washing involves skipping the shampoo step completely and using only conditioner in your daily or bi-weekly regimen. For some hair types and conditions the result can be smooth, silky and even easier-to-manage strands.
The natural oils created by the scalp keep hair hydrated and nourished but have a harder time being dispersed over the twisty structure of curly hair. This is why textured hair, especially super curly hair, has a natural tendency to be drier than straight or even wavy hair.
People with curly locks find the need to moisturize more deeply and cleanse more gently in order to maintain the health of their strands. A no-poo hair routine that consists of regular co-washing or alternating co-washing with very gentle cleansing can help to produce healthy and nourished coils.
As it became known that some of the ingredients in conditioners have slight cleansing properties as a bi-product, the co-washing or no-poo movement garnered momentum. It’s gaining so much popularity that hair product manufacturers are now formulating co-washing cleansing conditioners and more gentle versions of shampoos to fulfill the need.
There are a few things however, that one should know before committing to the movement.
Avoid the use of styling products with silicones, as they are not water-soluble and are therefore harder to wash out without using stronger cleansing agents.
Don’t forego cleansing completely. Clarify concentrating at the scalp on occasion with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo to ensure that impurities are removed.
Watch the pH balance of the cleansing and conditioning products that you are using and try to stay at pH 6.5 or lower. If you use too high of a pH balance the cuticle is raised, which can strip out your color and can also leave hair feeling rough. Typically the lower the pH of a shampoo and conditioner, the better. It will close down the cuticle and leave hair, even curly strands, feeling softer and silkier.
When Not To Co-Wash
If you suffer from scalp conditions such as dandruff or dermatitis, co-washing occasionally is acceptable but not cleansing occasionally could actually make the condition worse. Do what is necessary to treat your scalp first and balance the best you can with the needs of your hair second.
The no-poo movement is not for everybody. In fact, if you have oily hair, co-washing is absolutely not for you. Shampoo is definitely needed to remove the excess oil and to balance the scalp’s production of sebum. Also, co-washing tends to deposit oil, so you’d actually be creating more of an issue for yourself.