Updated: Aug 10
This talk of co-washing vs shampoo has been tossed around the natural hair community for a while. There are endless hair care methods on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do during your natural hair journey. Let’s just say, all of this natural hair lingo can get a bit confusing. Especially if you’re new to this natural hair life. I can only imagine the amount of confusion one may have trying to determine what's best for them. So I’m here to help…let’s break down this whole shampooing vs. co-washing mystery.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A CO-WASH?
A co-wash (short for conditioner wash) is basically when you wash your hair with conditioner and forgo the use of shampoo.
The main purpose of shampoo is to cleanse your scalp and get rid of all the product build-up and the nasty stuff that your hair can pick up on a daily basis.
Co-washing is a great way to keep your hair moisturized but it really doesn’t really cleanse your hair and scalp in the same way that shampooing does. Shampooing the hair with a sulfate free shampoo is vital for you hair to thrive.
There’s a difference between the two methods:
CO-WASH – When the use of conditioner is replaced with shampoo and used to wash your hair. Basically the act of cleansing the hair by using a conditioner instead of a shampoo.
SHAMPOO – When the use of a shampoo product is used to cleanse the hair. The main purpose of shampoo is to cleanse your scalp and get rid the hair of product build-up
When it comes to co-washing and shampooing your hair, you can’t really pick one over the other as both methods are beneficial to your natural hair. However, pay close attention to your to your hair and know use one over the other. It’s good to have good balance for both options.
TIP: It’s good to cleanse with a co wash weekly and do a deep cleansing with a shampoo at least once every 4 weeks. If you use a lot of products you may have to deep cleanse more often.
Shampoo has gotten a bad rep in the natural hair community and some naturals have subscribed to the idea of NOT using shampoo at all. One of the very myths of shampooing the hair is that it can hair harm and strip the hair of essential oils. But don’t be fooled, you should be shampooing your hair at some point. Washing the hair with a sulfate shampoo is actually not good for curly strands however, you don’t want to completely remove shampooing from your routine all together. Beware of the type of shampoo that may be cause harm to your tresses.
I normally cleanse with a co wash weekly and do a deep cleansing with a Shampoo every 3 to 4 weeks. I may use a clarifying shampoo a little earlier if I have an insane amount of products in my hair from the weeks prior. If you're still unsure when to shampoo vs co-washing, try co-washing and see how your hair responds and tweak accordingly. The bottom line is you have to find what works for your hair and your schedule but daily or more than twice a week is too often and monthly is too infrequently!
If you’re still scratching head about whole shampoo debacle, no worries it takes time to figure all of the natural hair care stuff out. But in the meantime, here’s a list of some of my favorite co-washing and cleansing shampoos you can add to your regimen.
Co Washing Shampoos
These list will provide you a jump start to your shampoo journey.