Co-Washing: Natural Hair 101

Co-washing is a staple technique for many Naturals.  It’s one of the first things I learned while on my quest for maintaining healthy, happy natural hair. Water; it’s essential for life and extremely essential for healthy natural hair.  It’s the cheapest and easiest moisturizer and natural hair loves it.  Combine water with conditioner and you’ve got the perfect combination for moisturizing our hair.

Co-washing your hair is the same as washing with Shampoo but replaced with conditioner.  Since I’ve started the Curly Girl Method (CGM) I only use botanical conditioners.

Botanicals should contain high concentrations of plant-based ingredients such as mint, lemongrass, and rosemary.  They will help maintain a photoprotective shield around hair shafts

Shampoo is deeply cleansing the hair and can harm and strip the hair of essential oils.  Shampooing too often is actually not good for our hair.  Co-washing can cut down on how often a Natural needs to shampoo and since it mildly cleanses the hair, some Naturals have stopped using shampoo altogether.

Everyone has their own technique but here’s the just of it:

I jump in the shower and allow the water to penetrate my hair thoroughly.  I run my fingers through my hair as the water runs through to help eliminating tangles.  Allow the water to work FOR YOU.  I apply my cowashing conditioner, AS I AM Coconut Cowash.   Amount?  About the size of a gumball for each section. (Now that my hair has gotten longer and thicker, I MUST section my hair so I make four sections.)  On some days, I will add the size of a golf ball but you really can’t go wrong with being generous as long as it has slip. Using your finger pads rub your scalp to help remove build up and/or dirt. After I hit the scalp, I finger comb the conditioner through my hair strands.  Some Naturals use a wide tooth comb but the object is to remove tangles, coat the hair and cleanse the scalp and hair.  You want conditioners with slip, emollients, humectants and moisturizers.


Slip – Used to describe how slippery a product is (usually a conditioner or detangler)… the more slip it has, the more effectively it will coat the hair to aid in detangling. 
Emollients – Soften hair and reduce frizz by smoothing the cuticle. Examples of good ones for curly hair would be Shea butter, olive, jojoba, vegetable oils.
Humectants –  They absorb water from the stmosphere and holds on to it. They are necessary for curly haired women in our conditioners and an examples would be vegetable glycerin.
Moisturizers – They add softness and controls curly hair.  Examples would be amino acids, aloe vera and propylene glycol.
Now, you can either let it stay (A REGULAR CONDITIONER) in if you are doing the CGM or just rinse some or all of it out. That’s it!  Co-washing.  Your hair will thank you in the end.  I co-wash two or three times a week and have been doing that for over four years with slight variations.  Co-washing is one of the most essential Natural hair requirements for moisturized, healthy, happy hair.  You’ll be satisfied with the results.
Co-washing is our friend Naturals,

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  1. Michelle LilReds Burrell says

    I love to co-wash especially with As I Am Coconut cowash. I also like to use Pantene’s cowash as well. It has great slip and makes your hair feel soft and moisturized.

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