Co – Washing (also known as “no ‘poo washing”) simply means “conditioner only washing.” It is the act of washing your hair using conditioner only – no shampoo. This procedure is used mainly by African Americans in order to restore moisture into the hair.
How can your hair get cleaned using only a conditioner? Most conditioners actually contain enough detergents to cleanse the hair without using the harsher cleaners normally found in shampoos.
Using this method has two benefits: it helps to soften and moisturize kinky, curly, and dry hair and it also cleans the hair without using the drying and scrubbing agents that are found in typical shampoos.
Co-washing can be done as often as you like – some people co-wash daily or every other day while others will co-wash only once a week. Just remember – you can not abandon shampooing your hair completely. Co-washing can lead to a build-up of product on your hair that will need to be removed (I prefer to shampoo and then use an ACV rinse).
StepsFind a conditioner that works for your hair. This should not be your “favorite” conditioner if it is expensive. If possible try to find a cheap but effective hair conditioner that you’ve tried (and liked!) before. You also want to check the ingredients in the conditioner and make sure it doesn’t have a large quantity of the ingredients that you should avoid. A great source for this information is the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database (http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/). This site allows you to search by both product and ingredient.
Tip! Buy a handheld shower head with multiple sprays. This is great for when you don’t want to stand in the shower to wash your hair or just rinsing those hard to reach area. My favorite is Waterpik – they have great prices. I found one on Amazon.com for $23.99
Diluting your conditioner
I try to keep the conditioner as thick as possible without having it clump in my hair. I use an open tip dye bottle that you can pick up at any beauty supply store. Put your desired amount of conditioner in the bottle and then dilute with hot water. If you have very long locks it might be a good idea to have two of these bottles ready for one wash.
Some people like to put additional items in their conditioner for the wash. The options are endless and particular to your needs and hair types: sunflower oil, melted shea butter, anti-frizz serums – the list goes on and on. Personally, I don’t add anything to my conditioner/water mix.
Start by wetting the hair with warm (not hot!) water. I like to do this in the shower, but everyone is different. Once the hair is entirely soaked, apply conditioner in the same way you would apply shampoo. Make sure to agitate the hair (gently) and massage the scalp. Ensure that all hair has received a coating of conditioner (down to the ends of the hair).
Allow the conditioner to set for 3-5 minutes (or your preference). This time is great for a body scrub, a shave, or whatever else you do in the shower!
Once you have reached your conditioning time limit (or in my case the end of my hot water, lol), it’s time to rinse. This time, make sure to use cool water (not warm, not hot – cool). Once all of the product has been rinsed out, it’s time to dry your hair.
When drying your hair (with a towel), make sure to avoid briskly rubbing your hair and scalp with the towel. What you want to do is to squeeze the water out of your hair with the towel. The reason why you don’t want to rub your hair with the towel is that the friction causes split ends, frizzy dryness and does a lot of damage. You don’t want you hair to be bone dry, it just shouldn’t be dripping.
You are now ready for maintenance!