Co-washing is short for ’conditioner only washing’ and is simply a washing method where no shampoo is used, only conditioner. The main idea is to cut down on sulfates and other strong chemicals that in the long run will damage your hair. The technique is especially great for afro hair, curly hair or very dry hair, but thin and straight hair may benefit from the technique as well.
Okay, so you want to give it a try? Great! The first thing you will need to do is have a final wash with a clarifying shampoo. The shampoo needs to contain sulfates but no silicones or mineral oil. Silicones and mineral oil do not help your hairs condition, but rather improve the hairs appearance. Furthermore they are not dissolvable in water, which means you won’t get it out of your hair with only conditioner. This will eventually lead to build up of product in the hair which will make it look greasy and damaged.
After you have washed you hair completely clean of any residue you can start washing it with only conditioner! Choose your conditioner wisely. It needs to be free of anything that is not dissolved in water, like silicone and mineral oil, and it needs to be light enough to be able to get down to the scalp and washed out easily. If you need something more nourishing, you can have a separate conditioner that you use just in the lengths of the hair as usual.
How to wash
When washing your hair with conditioner, you may have to use a little more force then you are used to. Conditioner doesn’t lather, with makes it harder to get down to the scalp evenly. You will also need to massage the scalp for a while. Since conditioner don’t contain any strong chemicals to clean the hair this washing method is heavy reliable of manual work to break down the oils. If needed you can use a hair mask or nourishing conditioner to the ends afterwards.
Although many people that wash their hair with conditioner only don’t use any styling products, some of them do. You can use any styling product as usual when co-washing, as long as they are not containing any silicones or mineral oil. If you use any silicone or mineral oil in your hair you will need to clarify it again with regular shampoo.