Co-Washing. What's The Fuss?

The co-washing technique has become a regular part of the routine of many healthy-hair enthusiasts. However, the trend can be somewhat confusing, if you’re not fully aware of all it entails.

For those who aren’t familiar, “co-washing” is an abbreviation for conditioner washing, and with this method, you substitute conditioner for shampoo as a cleanser for your hair. Most women utilize co-washing to increase the number of days between shampoos, which is understandable, since for a lot of us, wash days can require some serious mental preparation. Others, though, use co-washing as a substitute for shampooing altogether . . . seriously bad idea. Here’s why.

Just like the rest of your body, your scalp must be cleaned. Co-washing only is sort of like removing your makeup, but then neglecting to actually wash your face with water, or some type of cleanser. Good job getting rid of the visible gunk . . . but what about the stuff that’s no-doubt seeped beneath the surface?

The good news is that eliminating co-washing altogether isn’t necessary. There happens to be a few quality, silicone-free products out there that provide hair the moisture it needs — that it absolutely requires — between washes. But just to be clear, solely co-washing your hair means you’re actually neglecting to ever clean your scalp, and that’s just downright unhealthy!

Due to hair and scalp buildup, the pores of your scalp inevitably become clogged. As a result, hair follicles — and the delicate hair within them, trying to grow out — are unable to thrive.

When lots of co-washes may claim they’re “cleansers,” or intended for “cleansing,” but 95% of them lack the beneficial properties and ingredients good shampoos do — ingredients able to actually penetrate pores and remove everything that doesn’t belong there. In order to achieve a truly thorough cleanse, then, you need to wash your hair with a water-soluble product — which most co-washes simply are not.

Now, when it comes to top-grade shampoos, thankfully, there are some really great ones out there these days, ones that adequately clean both hair and scalp, while also preserving the integrity of the hair. And in case you’re wondering, How often should I actually shampoo?, the answer is every one to two weeks, depending on your level of physical activity. For those of you with extremely oily hair, however, co-washing is actually not a healthy option at all and should be eliminated from your regimen entirely.