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6 min read

What is co-washing? Is this new trend right for you and your hair?

What is co-washing? Is this new trend right for you and your hair?

You’ve probably heard about the no poo movement, a trend toward skipping the shampoo entirely for healthier hair. Co-wash is similar to the no poo movement, as it skips the shampoo and relies solely on a conditioner to do the cleansing.

If the idea of a co-wash seems a little too extreme, or you’re afraid you’ll end up with heavy, greasy hair; it’s time to take a deeper look at co-washing.

Why skip the poo?

Whether you’re into no poo or you’re considering a co-wash, the idea of both of them is to eliminate the shampoo from your daily routine. There are a couple of different reasons why you might want to shy away from shampoo.

Your scalp produces natural oil, which is called sebum. This oil begins in your follicles and makes its way down the hair shaft. Its job is to keep your scalp and hair healthy and conditioned. 

Many “traditional” shampoos have harsh chemicals (more on those later) that strip away the sebum in your hair as well as sweat build-up, dead skin cells, dirt and other things you want to wash out of your hair. 

When that natural oil is washed away daily, your sebaceous glands work to replace it, which turns into an oily hair cycle. The product you use to remove the oil from your hair causes it to be oilier in the long run. 

Skipping shampoo altogether lets your sebum work at its intended level and produces a healthier head of hair.

The chemicals in shampoo that are used to get that squeaky clean feeling are another reason people are turning away from shampoo entirely. The toxic ingredients in shampoo aren’t just long words you’ve never heard of, some of them are things you know to avoid–like formaldehyde. This known carcinogen is not found in shampoos in huge doses, but it’s often in there and something you want to avoid.

You’ll also hear a lot about parabens and sulfates in shampoos. Parabens are a preservative that may play a role in cancer development. Sulfates are the detergent in shampoo that creates lather and strips out the natural oils, which leaves hair dry and easily damaged.

These are all great reasons for leaving the shampoo behind, and if you can get your hair clean without it, why not give it a shot. You might discover that it looks even better than when you used to use shampoo.

How co-wash works

Some people who opt for a no poo hair care routine use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) to get the clean feeling and the shine they want. The problem is that apple cider vinegar can irritate the skin and scalp, and creating the right balance of ACV to baking soda is tricky. 

With the co-wash option, you get the best of both worlds without any downside. While there are co-wash products on the market, that feature conditioners with cleaning agents, you can get the effects you want with your regular conditioner.

The trick when you co-wash is to use your conditioner as a shampoo. Put a small amount in your hand, and work it through your scalp in a massaging motion. 

Gentle rubbing is key to preventing the damage aggressive rubbing can do to your hair. It’s this friction and the conditioner that will loosen dirt and dead skin cells for easy rinsing. Your natural oils are not stripped. 

After you’ve “washed” your hair, use your conditioner as you normally would. Apply a liberal amount to your hands, and work it through the length of your hair, and try focusing on the ends where the most amount of moisture and conditioning is needed.

Selecting a conditioner for co-washing 

While you’re busy avoiding “bad” ingredients in shampoos, it’s important to check the ingredients in your conditioner, too. Not all conditioners are the same. 

You’ll want to make sure to avoid silicones, while they make your hair look shiny, they build up over time and cause it to be heavy, dull, and dirty. 

Some ingredients you should look for in a conditioner are designed to give your hair the softness and shine you want.

♦ Reduce frizz with shea butter, oils, and wheat germ.

♦ Protect damaged hair with wheat, wheat germ, and soy protein.

♦ Lock in moisture with humectants like honey, panthenol, and vegetable glycerin.

♦ Add moisture with amino acids and aloe vera, and watch your hair shine.

Final thoughts

Historically, shampooing daily is a relatively new concept, and it might not be the best thing for your hair. Research is proving that daily shampoo isn’t necessary.

If you’d like to encourage the natural oils in your hair to do their job and to avoid potentially dangerous toxins in shampoo, then the co-wash approach might be just what you’re looking for. 

This method of cleaning your hair focuses on using a small amount of conditioner as a cleanser and gently massaging it into your scalp. Then you condition as usual. After your hair has gotten accustomed to the new routine, you’re sure to see some dramatic results.

At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

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    At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

    Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

    Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

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