Your Natural Hair Journey: Pros & Cons of Co-washing

The Truth About Co-Washing

I first discovered co-washing when I went natural in high school. Since it was my first natural hair journey, I wanted to make sure I knew all that was to know about natural hair. So what better place to start than the internet? As I was browsing the web, I discovered co-washing. At first, I thought it was utterly absurd. For those of you who do not know, co-washing is it merely using a conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampooing. I decided to go for it and try it out. I got hooked after a few tries. I threw away shampooing altogether, and co-washing was all I knew. After some time, however, I discovered the truth about co-washing. With my discovery, I'd like to share with you a compiled list of the pros and cons to co-washing.

Pros Of Co-Washing

There were so many benefits that I discovered during the three-month period where I only co-washed.

Helps hair retain moisture

This method helped with my hair keeping moisture. From co-washing my hair was not stripped of its natural oils as most shampoos would. After conditioning my hair, it would feel so soft and moisturized.

Defined curls

Co-washing was one method that made my curls pop. After putting an ample amount of product in my hair and rinsing it off my curls would be super defined. When I say curls were popping, I mean so popping you would need a selfie to capture the moment.

One less step

I don't know about you, but there was so much to learn as a new naturalist. Being able to cut out shampooing from my regimen was great. It felt like one less thing to remember. I already spent hours on my hair as is, so it was nice being able to get in the shower condition my hair, let that sit, take a shower, then get out. I did not have to worry about choosing the right shampoo that would not dry my hair out. Instead, I conditioned and voila!

Manageable hair

Detangling, especially on my hair, can be a pain. Co-washing can make this process a lot easier. The conditioner can make detangling a breeze. After detangling, your hair will be so manageable that the comb will glide through it. Since you detangled your hair, you can go on to style as you please. Whether it be a twist out, wash and go, or braid out, your fingers will thank you for the amount of work you've saved them by detangling with the conditioner.

Cons of Co-washing

Along with the good, there were some negatives that I discovered when I was only co-washing

Product Build Up

After a couple of days of co-washing, my scalp would start to itch. The build-up was from a combination of the dust particles in the air getting stuck in my hair and the residue from the conditioner. When co-washing the hair strands are coated with conditioner. The coated strands can make it easy for dust, lint, and other particles to attach to the hair and scalp. When this occurs your scalp can sometimes start to itch, and when you scratch your scalp you can see the build up in between your nails.

Dry hair

A conditioner is meant to moisturize your hair, but when applied too often it can cause your hair to be dry and brittle. Since the conditioner coats the hair strands, this can make it hard for the hair follicles to get the moisture that they need. The hair can feel moisturized, but that is just the outer layer. The inner layers of the hair follicle are dry due to the ample amount of products coating the strands. Overly conditioning can also lead to hair breakage. When our hair get dry breakage can take place because the strands are not strong enough to stay intact. After many days of only co-washing, you can start to see little strands breaking from your hair.

Stunts growth

When there is too much product on your head, this can stunt the growth of hair. The conditioner builds up on your hair and scalp; it disables your scalp from getting the proper oxygen and clean environment that promotes healthy hair growth. If your looking to keep your hair at the same length, then continuous co-washing is the way to go. But if you're like the others of us with waist length hair goals, we'll pass on stunted growth.

Helpful Tips to Co-Washing

If you are going to co-wash here are some useful tips on how you can enjoy all of the pros and none of the cons.

Tip #1 Shampoo your hair when you start to feel the product building up

You do not need to shampoo every day. Usually between 3-4 days after co-washing is enough time for dirt and products to start building up on your scalp. If you feel residue when you run your fingers through your scalp or hair, it is probably time to shampoo.

Tip #2 Find the right conditioner for your hair

There are so many conditioners out there, and it can sometimes be hard to choose the right one. Try out different products and find what works for you. There are conditioners that help with volume, protects color treated hair, and adds shine. If your looking for one to define your curls and your current conditioner is not getting the job done, get a new one.

Tip #3 Don't be afraid of change

In the natural hair community you will come to learn that just because something works for one person, it will not always work for you. So be flexible and change hair care techniques when needed. You know your hair best, trust yourself! Co-washing might not be what your hair needs, and that's okay. There are so many other techniques out there to help you reach your hair goals.

Switch Things Up with Co-Washing

Growing up my mom would always say "too much of one thing, is good for nothing." Co-washing is the perfect scenario for that phrase. There are many benefits, but at the same time if you do it too often without variation it can take a toll on your hair. I to this day still co wash but I just make sure I listen to my scalp and hair. A little shampoo never hurt anybody. I hope you have found it helpful on your hair journey. Comment below to share your co-washing stories. Do you love it, hate it, or are you going to try it out soon?
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