What is co-washing?

What is co-washing?

Like so many things in the beauty world, new hair regimes are trending all the time. One of the most talked about new methods for keeping your locks luscious is called co-washing. This is simply short for ‘conditioner washing.’ 

The overall gist of this the idea of ditching your favourite shampoo in favour of a cleansing conditioner. If it sounds counterintuitive to you, you’re not the only one. The rinse-lather-repeat shampoo routine – followed by your favourite conditioner – is a tale as old as time for many.
So, what is this method and how can you benefit? Discover whether or not you’re a good co-washing candidate, and how best to add it into your routine. 

Are you a candidate for co-washing?

If your hair is naturally dry, curly or wavy, then you’re a good candidate for co-washing. In fact, many curly-haired women have been cleansing their hair with conditioner for years. Why? Most conditioners contain trace amounts of detergents – called cationic surfactants – that, when mixed with water, pick up and flush away tiny amounts of dirt. This leaves hair feeling clean but not void of moisture. If you have colour-treated hair, you’re also a prime candidate for adopting a co-washing routine. Unlike a traditional shampoo system, a co-washing routine won’t strip strands of pigment as quickly, so it allows users to go longer between salon visits. But who is co-washing not so suitable for? It isn’t recommended for anyone with fine or uber-straight hair. Textures like these can end up feeling bulky following a co-washing routine because the additional moisture might be too heavy for finer strands to handle. As well as this, those with an oily scalp or dermatitis should steer clear. While co-washing won’t exacerbate these conditions, it won’t help flatter them either.


Choosing a conditioner

Choosing a conditioner somewhat comes down to trial and error. If you have thicker hair, a daily conditioner might be just the thing, but the key to using what you already have in your bathroom is to check the ingredients list. Steer clear of products with silicone in them. When you use shampoo daily, silicone conditioners work to smooth out the hair follicles for an overall silky look, but without shampoo there’s a very high chance that the silicone ingredients will work against you to weigh hair down.

If your hair isn’t as thick, find a cleansing conditioner – like L’Oreal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Curl Nourishment Cleansing Conditioner – that is designed specifically for the co-washing technique. The difference between an ordinary conditioner and one developed for this process is that co-washing conditioners contain more cleansing agents than typical conditioners do, but often in the form of more natural ingredients which remove dirt particles more gently.

The co-washing process

In the short term, eliminating shampoo from your daily traditions may take some adjustment. To transition smoothly, use the following guide:
  1. Begin by fully wetting your hair. This will help make the conditioner application much smoother and give an even distribution.
  2. Pump a healthy amount of conditioner into your hand. There’s no hard and fast rule on this, you just need enough product to cover your hair from root to tip.
  3. Work the conditioner into your scalp and distribute evenly through from root to tip, while giving yourself a gentle scalp massage along the way. Not only will it make you feel pampered, the massage will help to break down oils and lingering residue from previously-used styling products.
  4. With the product applied thoroughly, leave the conditioner to sit for three to five minutes, then rinse, dry and style as you normally would. If your hair is extra dry or damaged, you can always leave your cleansing conditioner in longer. It will act as a hair mask to repair any damage your strands may be facing.
Use a clarifying shampoo every two to four weeks for best results. Generally speaking, once or twice-a-month with a shampoo will work wonders for curing dullness without drying out your strands.

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