Last update on:

co washing hair – How to & Benefits

What is Co Washing Hair?

Conditioner washing, or co-washing as it is popularly known, is a way to cleanse your hair using your favorite conditioner in place of shampoo. The founder of this term is believed to be Lorraine Massey.

To co-wash natural hair means cleansing your hair and scalp using a rinse out conditioner instead of a traditional shampoo. The reason why this is done is because shampoos could strip hair of its natural oils and it could lead to dry and brittle tresses.

As compared to straighter hair types the structured hair has a natural tendency to be drier. The reason behind this phenomenon is that the natural oils created by the scalp easily spread to straight hair. For curly hairs it becomes difficult for the oils to reach the through the various turns and twists.

Lorraine suggests that people with curly hair should use conditioners to clean their hair more than they use shampoo.

It is often believed that conditioners can only help to condition the hair but the reality is that they contain a small amount of gentle cleansers to clean the hair. Co-washing the hair regularly will help to grow your hair longer and healthier too.

It is believed by many that the gentle cleansers present in some conditioners will help in hair growth and prevent split ends and other hair damages.

The concept of co-washing has become so popular that hair care product companies are now launching products that are specifically meant to co-wash the hair. The difference of washing the hair with a regular conditioner and washing it with a specially formulated co-washing conditioner is apparent.

It is advisable to look for a rinse out conditioner that can work well for your hair. This is because not all conditioners work well for every type of hair. The fact that a conditioner is expensive does not mean that it is the best for you.

How to Co Wash Natural Hair

The first thing that you need to do is to thoroughly rinse your hair using warm water for two to three minutes. You need to ensure that the water is warm enough to cleanse your hair and scalp but not too hot that it will scald you.

The next thing that you do is to pour enough conditioner on your palm and then apply some on a part of your hair that is already wet. The conditioner can then be worked from the root to the tip and use the fingers to comb through your tresses while you are doing this.

The above process should be continued until your head is completely covered with conditioner. Your natural hair can now be detangled while it is still wet. A wide tooth comb can be used and you can be able to comb your hair right out. While you are still showering, allow the steam to assist the rinse out conditioner to be able to penetrate your hair for between five to seven minutes.

Using warm water, you can now rinse the hair and you can use the fingers to comb your curls through. By this time, your hair and scalp should be moisturized and clean without the natural oils being moisturized.

The most important thing when you co-wash natural hair is that you are using a rinse out conditioner.

You see, there is a difference between using a conditioner and a shampoo. In the conditioner and shampoo, you will find an ingredient called a surfactant. Now, this ingredient when found in the conditioner is designed to stick to your hair. However, in a shampoo, this ingredient binds to oil as well as dirt more than it would in the conditioner.

This means that the shampoo removes more dirt and oil compared to a conditioner. However, when you use co-wash for natural hair do not use deep conditioners. In addition, you should be wary of silicones that are found in the styling products as opposed to the conditioner.

Another tip that you can use is to alternate with a shampoo. It is not bad for you to occasionally use a shampoo in your hair care routine.

Make sure to not overdo co-washing. There is something called over conditioning the hair; if you feel your hair seems too soft then you need to stop co-washing right away.

Over conditioning will do more harm to the hair than good. It is also important to know that if you are suffering from dermatitis or any severe hair or scalp problems then you should avoid co-washing. If you have no hair or scalp related issues and do not have excess sebum buildup then you should try co-washing to have longer and healthier hair.

Top 5 Co washing benefits for your hair.

Co-washing is all the rage with many many women but most men have not realized the importance, mainly because they have no time or they don’t understand what it is all about. The following are the main co-washing benefits and why people should start co-washing their hair.

1. Co Washing Benefits the Scalp

For men who exercise regularly, the removal of sweat from the hair is incredibly very essential. If not regularly washed away, salt from the frequent perspiration will immediately dry out the textured hair and inflame the scalp. One of the co-washing benefits, it can remove the dust, salt, and dirt from the hair while at the same time avoiding stripping the hair off its natural oils.

2. Co Washing is fast

With conditioner washing, one can do it within a short period of time. Contrasting washing and conditioning, one only need to shower, rinse the hair thoroughly and then lather up with a conditioner and rinse.

3. Co Washing benefits hair health

Given that co-wash eliminates stripping shampoo step, human hair retains moisture and eventually shining. It will be very easy to comb, style and will eventually dry a lot smoother and sleeker. In addition, by persistently exposing hair to water, it is very possible that the water force and conditioner is allowed to distribute the natural oils that are located at the scalp to other parts of the hair.

Therefore, by working out repeatedly, one is in a position to increase the amount of conditioning and water exposed to the hair. The hair and the body will get healthier in the long run.

4. Co Washing gives your hair a great smell

One of the most excellent co-washing benefits on a daily basis is that the hair will have a good smell every day. The scalp and hair will feel clean, fragrant, and fresh.

5. Co washing defines waves and curls

In view of the fact that you’re no longer exposing the hair to the stripping detergents contained in the shampoo, you’ll note that, on transitioning, the natural waves and curls will start to emerge more and well defined. When the human hair is well conditioned and lubricated, the curls will automatically and naturally appear supple, healthier, and moist.

Which Co Wash Conditioner to Choose?

If you’re new to co-washing your hair, picking out a conditioner for the first time can be overwhelming. There are so many options out there to use as co-wash conditioner, which one do you pick?

Whether this is your first time picking out a conditioner or you’re an old pro and want to switch up your regular conditioner for something new, here are a few tips on picking out your new co-wash conditioner.

Slip properties

This is one of the most important properties that that you should look for in a co-wash conditioner. This property allows the product to be distributed throughout your hair easily.

This ingredient is known as an emollient ingredient. Stearyl alcohol, coconut oil, cetyl alcohol, cyclomethicone, cetaryl alcohol, jojoba and olive oil are some examples of emollient found in different conditioners.

You should make sure that your conditioner has one or more of those emollient ingredients.

Cleansing ability

Before choosing the conditioner, you need to check whether it has cleansing ability.

Co-wash conditioners can either clean your hair based on an oil solubility system or through cationic surfactants. Examples of surfactants that can effectively clean your hair include behentrimonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine and behentrimonium methosulfate among others.

The conditioner should also contain some fatty alcohol substances such as stearyl, cetaryl, or cetyl groups. A conditioner with these ingredients will clean your hair more effectively.

Moisturizing ability

People often turn to co-washing because of their dry hair woes, so you need a conditioner that gives your hair a pop of moisture.

There are several ingredients that can give your conditioner moisturizing ability. Jojoba oil, coconut oil, shea oil, glycerin and glutamic acid are some of the ingredients that can work perfectly to moisturize your hair. Thus, a good conditioner should contain some of these ingredients.

Positive charge

This is another important property to look for when choosing co-wash conditioner. Your hair has negative charges, and heat and chemical substances can worsen these charges, leading to poor hair health.

This is why you need to choose a conditioner with positive charges. The positive charges help in creating soft and smooth hair. Some of the ingredients that can add positive charges in your hair are; alcohol, polyquartenums and cationic surfactants.

Those are some of the ingredients that your conditioner should have. If you are not familiar with conditioners, you can read customer reviews from the internet to learn more about the products. Make sure that your product has these ingredients to improve your hair health.

Straight or Curly

Co-washing doesn’t really have to do with the texture of your hair, but with the dryness. If you have straight hair, chances are your hair is not as dry as someone with wavy or curly hair. If you have very oily hair, it might be a good idea to steer clear of co-washing, as the extra oil in the conditioner can weigh your hair down and leave it looking flat and dull.

Co-washing straight hair can be beneficial to someone with dry ends. If you have oily roots, avoid applying shampoo to the lengths and just apply it to the oily spots. A sulfate-free shampoo, such as a Miracle Shampoo Plus Keratin is great for absorbing excess oil from your roots without overdrying.

As for the conditioners you should be using, you’ll likely need to play around with different varieties in order to find one that works for you. Some popular co-washing conditioners for straight hair include Suave Naturals Conditioner, Tropical Coconut, Suave Daily Clarifying Conditioner and the ultra-popular WEN Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner.

Be patient when using new conditioners for the first time. It can take several weeks for your hair to adjust to co-washing, so expect it to be a bit unruly for at least the first two weeks.

Which Co Washing Product is the best?

There are thousands of co-washing conditioners to choose from and as many articles and blogs which discuss the best co-washing conditioners and why people prefer each one.

Below you’ll find an updated list of the most popular co washing conditioners bought from amazon.

The above conditioners, all have very high Amazon customer ratings, so probably you’ll get positive results with any one of the above recommendations.

My personal favorite is the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser.

My personal favorite is the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser

I can get a seriously dry scalp at times. It’s itchy, uncomfortable and annoying. So I decided to switch up my normal co-washing routine and switch to something with even more moisturizing power.

Enter Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser. The product says it’s made specifically for dry curly hair and contains natural ingredients including:

  • Coconut Oil to protect hair and help cut down on hair damage
  • Silk Protein to leave hair silky and smooth
  • Neem Oil to control frizz and add shine.

I followed my normal co-washing routine and made some very positive observations:

As soon as I added it onto my hair, my hair instantly felt more moisturized. I didn’t have to rip apart snarls with my hands, my fingers instantly ran through them. My hair is easily tangled so this was a big plus!

The smell was really nice — very fresh and light. The smell isn’t overwhelming but leaves a nice scent to your hair and scalp.

This is actually a great skin moisturizer as well. Not only did my scalp stop itching, but I felt like the skin around my hairline was very soft after using.

shea co washing conditioner

To test my theory I rubbed a little on my face while co-washing and then rinsed it off when I rinsed my hair. Sure enough, my skin felt very soft. That’s probably not something I’d do if you have sensitive skin, but if your skin is feeling super dry it’s a nice pop of moisture.

The biggest downside of this product is the bottle size — this bottle is SMALL!

While they do have larger sizes of their other co-washing conditioners, the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser only comes in a small 8oz bottle. For this reason I might use it occasionally, but not as a daily co-wash. It’s certainly not a cost effective solution so I’d invest in it if you have especially dry hair.

So I would recommend the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser if you are prone to dry hair, but only use it here and there, not every day.

Featured Ingredients:

Coconut oil, silk protein, neem oil

Other Ingredients:

Deionized Water, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut)Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Magnifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Cetyl Esters, Kaolin Clay, Grapeseed Oil, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Behentrimonium Chloride (Conditioner), Hibiscus Sabdariffa Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Vegetable Protein, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Stearyl Alcohol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), African Black Soap Extract, Sea Salt, Rosemary Extract, Caprylyl Glycol *Certified Organic Ingredients

Last update on 2024-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Hi I'm Vincent, the editor of this website. I consider male grooming as a lifestyle choice. If you're comfortable with letting mother nature take care of your looks, then that's cool, however for those of you who want to make sure they look their best, I provide guides and tips for your male grooming needs.

Leave a Comment