Co-washing Tips & Techniques for Relaxed Hair
There are many techniques and strategies that women of color rely on for optimal hair care. Co-washing is a technique that both natural and relaxed heads of hair have benefitted from. My point of view will be from the relaxed perspective. So, what is co-washing? Co-washing is simply washing the hair with conditioner only. Shampoo is eliminated from the process when co-washing. When you first enter the world of co-washing, there are a few important things that you need to be aware of. When I first started co-washing, I had to learn my hair and how it reacted to co-washes, and also determine if it were for me. I did determine that co-washing is beneficial to my hair, (during certain periods, I will explain that later.) I have compiled a list of benefits and tips that I have experienced and researched about co-washing.
First, it is important to understand that co-washing is not for everyone. From my experience, co-washing works better on relaxed hair when it is in good condition and in strong. When relaxed hair is limp and weak, co-washing can only add to the problem, as it is very softening. Remember, there is such a thing as too much moisture. Too much moisture results in flat, limp, and lifeless hair.
My Co-washing Routine
Co-washing is super simple!! The way I co-wash is to wet my hair, in the shower, the same way as if I were going to wash it. Next I apply the conditioner (I usually use Crème of Nature Conditioner) I gently massage my scalp for about 3-5 minutes, focusing on the new growth. I then go ahead with my showering. Prior to rinsing out the conditioner, I take a wide tooth comb to detangle. I rinse my hair out with lukewarm water and proceed with my styling.
As stated earlier, I rely on co-washing for certain times in my hair care regimen, as I benefit from it the most. That time is when I am stretching my relaxers. When I am in the middle to latter periods of stretching, when the new growth has gotten thicker and more difficult to maintain, co-washing does wonders for my hair! It actually softens up the roots and gives me a fresh start for at least the next few days. However, after a newly relaxed head of hair, co-washing is not recommended; the hair is in a more weakened state. I suggest focusing on deep conditioners for at least a couple weeks after relaxing.
Tips on Co-washing
- Use a cheapie or light weight conditioner, as it will not sit on as long as a deep conditioner and it will not weigh your hair down.
- Don’t over do it with co-washes. Too much co-washing just may cause damaged or split ends. I would never suggest that someone with relaxed hair co-wash on a daily basis. Two times a week is plenty for me!
- Sometimes people find that co-washing is not for them, so they opt to use a conditioning shampoo, (again Crème of Nature makes a good one) but keep in mind, most commercial shampoos contain sulfates, which is the ingredient that is drying to your hair, hence the reason for co-washing in the first place.
- Listen to your hair! Try journaling to track your co-washing progress and hair reactions. If your hair is shedding more, then you can probably attribute it to co-washing.
- Many people choose to allow the conditioner to sit on the hair while they shower with a plastic baggy to allow more penetration. This is not something that I do, however.
- Finally, do not completely rid yourself of shampoos. I still use a clarifying shampoo to avoid residue on my scalp. Many people that co-wash exclusively report a coating on their scalp that is difficult to get rid of.
Co-washing can be either beneficial to your locks, or it can do more harm than good. Let your hair be your guide!! Have a happy and healthy hair growing experience!!