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Benefits of Co Washing Natural Hair

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If you’ve hunted around enough natural hair forums, you’ve probably come across the term “co washing” multiple times. There is somewhat of a debate about whether or not you should co wash, how often to co wash, and if it’s even necessary. Co washing can be incredibly effective for African American children with natural hair. Companies that make products for natural hair have even jumped on the bandwagon and come up with their own co washing products. If you’re still unsure as to whether or not this method is for your young natural, you may want to read on.


What is Co Washing?


Co washing, or conditioner washing, is basically cleansing the hair without the use of shampoo. Since many shampoos include ingredients like sulfates and alcohols, which tend not to mix well with natural hair and strip hair of its natural oils, many naturals have opted for the co washing method and have cut out shampoo entirely. Instead of the traditional method of using shampoo first and then conditioner, co washing actually saves you a step. You would use conditioner only to cleanse the scalp and hair.

Many natural hair supporters advocate for the use of co washing because they feel that shampoos are too drying on natural hair. Others jokingly say that co washing is like using only fabric softener to wash your clothes…they may smell good, but they are still dirty. Since many conditioners contain cleansing agents anyway, you can still see benefits with co washing.

I have personally seen amazing results with the co washing method and definitely recommend that you at least give it a shot.


Benefits of Co Washing

Co washing has quite a few benefits. Some of them include:

  • Helping with moisture retention.
  • Cutting down on styling time.
  • Helping to eliminate frizzy hair.
  • Making detangling easier.
  • Adding more shine and softer curls and coils


Co Washing products

As mentioned before, many natural hair product companies have added co washing conditioners to their lineup. Some are more effective than others, but it really varies from child to child. Which one will work for your curly cutie will have to be determined from trial and error.

You also want make sure that your conditioner has water soluble silicones or no silicones at all. Water soluble silicones can easily be washed out of the hair. Water soluble silicones are listed as either Dimethicone Copolyl
or PEG Modified Dimethicone on the product labels. Reading labels is important.

As with any product, it is advised that you test the product on a small section of your child’s hair to make sure that there is no allergy to the ingredients. Here are some to check out:

  • As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
  • SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser
  • Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Conditioning Co-Wash
  • Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Cleansing Cowash
  • Curl Immersion Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner
  • Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Co-Wash

How to Co Wash


Choose a gentle moisturizing conditioner, you can select one from the list above or use your holy grail of conditioners that you have found works well for your child’s tresses. You would use it the same manner that you would shampoo. What will determine how much conditioner to use is the thickness and the amount of hair your child has. Thoroughly saturate your child’s hair with water. Begin by sectioning off the hair. For each section, apply the conditioner from root to tip. Start detangling the hair, starting from the tips, moving upwards towards the roots. Once the hair is fully detangled, use the pads of your fingertips to gently massage the conditioner into the scalp. If the hair is particularly dry, you may want to leave the conditioner in their hair for a few minutes. Rinse well and repeat if necessary, or leave a little conditioner in for added moisture.


How Often Should You Co Wash?


The frequency of co washing really depends on your child’s hair. Some parents substitute co washing for shampooing, so whenever you wash your child’s hair is when you should co wash. If you notice a lot of product buildup in your child’s hair after a few weeks of incorporating co washing into your regimen, then you might want to alternate washing with a moisturizing shampoo and a cleansing co wash.


We highly recommend co washing for natural kids. Do you co wash your beloved naturals’ hair? What are your thoughts?