Here at British Curlies, we love answering your curly questions and giving hair advice! One of the hot topics we get asked about a lot is co-washing. Here are the most common questions we get asked about co-washing.
What is co-washing?
Co-washing is short for conditioner washing and it’s simply washing your hair using a conditioner rather than using a traditional shampoo or cleanser. It is beneficial to curly hair as normal shampoos can strip you hair of it’s natural oils resulting in dry hair that’s prone to frizzing. Co-washing is a gentle way to cleanse your curls while keeping your hair hydrated.
This does not remove build up alone, so you may have to clarify your hair every now and then. Read more about clarifying here.
What do I use to co-wash my hair?
You can use any rinse out conditioner for co-washing. The difference between using a product that is specifically labeled as a co-wash and your usual rinse out conditioner is that co-wash is made with more cleansing ingredients. This will work better in removing build up and cleansing your hair but you do not have to use a product that is labeled as a ‘co-wash’ if your normal conditioner is cleansing your hair. The only thing you cannot use are deep treatments or intensive conditioners as these will just add build up due to being thicker and richer.
How often should I co-wash?
This is a completely personal choice. We usually recommend doing it once or twice a week to start, but if you feel like it is not cleansing enough, feel free to do it as often as you like!
Do I still need to condition?
Yes. you should condition afterwards as usual. your conditioner needs to be a richer conditioner than your co-wash. Most curly girls tend to opt for a leave-in conditioner to follow. For really fine hair, you may not need to condition after co-washing as it may weigh it down. For coarse, thicker curls we recommend using a leave-in for detangling and keep your hair moisturised throughout the day.
My hair feels too dry?
If your hair feels dry and you are getting a lot of frizz, use more conditioner after washing. When co-washing, people can sometimes be worried about using too much conditioner and weighing down the curl, but this may result in drier hair.Use a good leave-in, applying to soaking wet hair and leave to air dry.
What is the ‘final wash’?
The final wash is a term used by curly girls for the last wash before you start co-washing. This is so you can wash all the product build up, silicones and other ingredients that aren’t CG friendly out of your hair. This shampoo should have strong sulphates in the ingredients in order to remove all the silicones and build up that co-washing can’t remove alone. Some curly girls have found success with normal household dish washing liquid to do this. Once you have done this wash, it is important to deep condition as this will dry your strands out.
Don’t be scared if this results in a bad hair day! Your curls may dry out and you may suffer through a bad hair day, but your curls will thank you for it in the long run. The most important step is conditioning and deep conditioning after you have washed to minimise the effects of the sulphates.
Can I shampoo as well as co-wash?
If you want to continue shampooing as part of your routine, it is a personal choice. If your curls are drying out and frizzing, it may be a good idea to cut the shampoo. If your curls stay hydrated and looking their best once you have cut out shampooing, we would recommend staying off the shampoo and continue co-washing only. If your curls don’t have any adverse effects from shampooing, it is up to you if you would like to co-wash and shampoo alternatively
How do I refresh my curls in between washes?
If your hair dies out, refresh with misting water onto your curls before styling. You can mix a little conditioner with the water if your curls are extra dry.
British Curlies’ staff picks
“Amazing!! At last something that actually does what it claims!!” Customer review posted 22nd Dec 2016
“A great co-wash that ticks all the boxes for me – left my hair feeling clean and soft. It works into a soft lather, which I like too. Will definitely purchase again.” Customer review posted 19th Nov 2014
“After two co-washes I can tell and feel the difference in my hair. My hair feels clean after each wash making it soft, fuller and frizz free. Great for my coloured natural hair and the smell is so lovely. Will be buying again!” Customer review posted 17th Jun 2014