For a relatively simple activity, we’ve sure found a lot of ways to overcomplicate washing our hair. Which products should we be using? How often should we be doing it? Should we rinse and repeat? But the latest question we’re asking ourselves may actually make the hair washing process quicker and easier: “should we be co-washing our hair?”
What is ‘co-washing’?
No, it’s not getting someone else to wash your locks for you (although that would be nice!) Co-washing is short for ‘conditioner washing’ and it means—you guessed it—skipping the shampoo and using only conditioner. Although the term has been around in the hairdressing industry for years, it’s only recently gone mainstream. But if you’re anything like me, you may have already been doing it on days where you’re short for time but want to smooth out your locks (or untangle knots!)
Conventional logic has always been that shampoo can go all over the hair, while conditioner should only be used in the ends because it’ll make your roots oily. But turns out, shampoo may have been the bad guy all along! Most shampoos contain sulfates, which are known to strip the hair’s natural oils and lead to dry, frizzy locks. Meanwhile, conditioner not only restores the hair’s moisture, but it can actually be used to cleanse your tresses, too.
Using only conditioner can still gently clean the hair, if you really scrub it everywhere, and right into the scalp. The moisturizing that comes from conditioner gives hair some weight to keep it under control.
– Jeff Chastain, stylist and founder of the product line PARLOR by Jeff Chastain via Furthermore.
Co-washing is particularly great for people with thick, curly or coarse hair and it helps to tame your locks without losing the natural texture. However, those with fine or straight tresses may find that they get too much of product build-up if they don’t scrub their scalp with shampoo. In those cases, the experts recommend using a sulfate-free shampoo or hair scrub on the scalp when it feels like it needs it.