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The Comprehensive Guide to Co Washing for Curly Hair
The Comprehensive Guide to Co Washing for Curly Hair

The Comprehensive Guide to Co Washing for Curly Hair

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    If you have been struggling with your curly hair drying out from your current hair care routine, co washing could be the answer to keeping your curls hydrated and defined. There are a lot of benefits to co washing, particularly if you have curly to coiled hair, as these hair types tend to dry out quicker than the rest. In this blog, we break down everything you need to know about co washing and how to incorporate it into your hair care routine seamlessly and effortlessly.

    What is Co Washing?

    Co washing is short for conditioner washing and is the hair care routine by which you use conditioner to clean your hair rather than shampoo. This process is recommended for those with curly to coiled hair as this hair type tends to be drier and has difficulty retaining moisture. By using conditioner rather than shampoo, you rehydrate your hair and prevent your natural oils from being stripped away by traditional shampoo methods.

    Compare Co Washing vs Shampoo

    Here is how co washing and shampoo differ in their purpose, methods and benefits:

    Co Washing

    The co washing method helps to cleanse your hair without stripping away any natural oils and deeply hydrates your hair. It helps to remove dirt or product buildup whilst still keeping your hair hydrated. This method is best suited for those with curly hair as it enhances your natural curl definition, reduces dryness and helps to retain your natural oils.


    Traditional shampoos work to remove dirt, oil and product buildup by removing impurities through its clarifying ingredients. It is beneficial for those with oily hair or straight hair as it deeply cleanses and removes excess oil. However, it can also strip away your natural oils so it can be drying and should be used sparingly and in conjunction with a conditioner or hair mask. 

    Why Should You Do Co Washing for Curly Hair?

    Co washing your hair has a wide range of benefits for your hair and scalp if you have curly to coiled hair, here is how each factor supports your hair:

    Moisture Retention

    As curly hair is on the drier side, co washing can help hydrate your hair whilst cleaning it. Shampoo, on the other hand, is known for stripping your hair of its natural oils.

    Reduced Frizz

    The more hydrated your hair is, the less likely it is to frizz and break. By maintaining your natural oils and introducing hydrating properties through co washing into your hair care routine, your hair will be less prone to frizz and retain moisture throughout the week.

    Enhanced Curl Definition

    Your curls will thank you for co washing as it helps to preserve and enhance your natural curl pattern, keeping them defined and bouncy.

    Gentle Cleansing

    Giving your curls a gentle cleansing will help support your more delicate curls.

    Step-by-Step Guide to Co Washing for Curly Hair

    1.  Preparing Your Hair

    To begin, rinse your hair with lukewarm water to allow your hair cuticles to open up to better absorb the conditioner.

    2. Choosing the Right Conditioner

    Choosing the right cleansing conditioner for co washing your hair is paramount to your hair responding well to the co washing method. Keep an eye out for ones that are sulphate-free, silicone-free and contain nourishing formulations like shea butter or aloe vera; opting for a conditioner that is designed for curly hair with cleansing ingredients infused is also best practice. Alternatively, you can use a curly hair mask for co washing to strengthen the hair shafts through a highly moisturising treatment.

    3. Sectioning Your Hair

    To section your hair with ease, use a claw clip to divide your hair into sections. Working through each section will help ensure the conditioner is evenly distributed and helps you focus on the drier parts that need more attention.

    4. Applying the Conditioner

    Begin applying the conditioner to each section, taking a generous amount to ensure the roots to the tips of your hair are covered. You can also use this time to gently massage the conditioner into your hair to stimulate your scalp.

    5. Detangling

    Once the conditioner or hair mask is evenly distributed throughout your hair, use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair. The wide comb helps to gently work through any knots without causing breakage.

    6. Rest Time

    After you have detangled your hair, wait 5-10 minutes (or follow the instructions of the hair mask) to give your hair time to absorb the product.

    7. Rinse and Finish With a Cool Shot

    Begin with lukewarm water and thoroughly wash products out of your hair, taking special care of your scalp. This is because product residue left on your scalp can lead to scalp issues and make your hair look weighed down. You also run the risk of developing scalp conditions such as dandruff or an itchy scalp. After you have rinsed your hair of any products, finish with a cool shot to seal your hair cuticles and help prevent them from drying out.

    8. Plopping Your Hair 

    Grab a microfiber towel or old cotton t-shirt and gently plop your curls upwards to remove any excess water. If you are feeling lost, read up on our articles for more information on the curly girl method and how to define your curls.

    9. Diffusing Your Hair

    Using a hair diffuser on a low heat setting is going to encourage your natural curl pattern. Grab one with multiple heat settings or one that can attach to your hair dryer.  Placing the diffuser base at the bottom of your hair, begin by plopping your hair in an upward motion towards your scalp, working through each section evenly and quickly to not overheat one section.

    FAQs about Co Washing Curly Hair

    How often should you co wash curly hair?

    This depends largely on your hair type and how it responds to this hair care method. For some, it works to replace shampoo completely with conditioner. However, this may lead to product buildup over time so it is good to alternate between the two and adjust the frequency depending on how your hair responds.

    Who should use a co wash?

    Co washing is best for those with curly to coiled hair or those who suffer from dry hair as this method deeply hydrates and supports your hair's structure from drying out. It is always best to experiment with this hair care routine and adjust accordingly based on how your hair reacts.

    Is co washing good for curly hair?

    Yes it is! That is because curly to coiled hair tends to be dryer and needs more moisture, so when you use a traditional shampoo you can further exacerbate the issue by drying your hair out. By using the co washing method, you can gently cleanse your hair without stripping your hair of its natural oils and support your hair's natural curl pattern.

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