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Co Washing Natural African American Hair

Updated on March 30, 2011

Humetress Ultimate Moisturizing Conditioner

13.5 oz bottle $12.99
13.5 oz bottle $12.99 | Source

Co-Washing is something I came across while trying to figure out what to do with my NOW natural 3b/c hair. Since I was able to do wash n' go's I needed to wash my hair every 3 - 4 days. I realized, while doing research, that shampooing my hair that often was not good for my scalp and hair.  So I continued to research the benefits of co-washing my hair.

This review will be done from the point or view of a natural hair wearer.  I must say that since I've been trying this method, I've been very pleased with the outcome.

What Is Co-Washing?

Simply put, instead of using a shampoo of your choice to "wash" your hair, you will use a conditioner to "wash" your hair.

Conditioners have mild surfactants and can be used to cleanse the scalp without stripping the hair of natural oils. This method is best for hair that is naturally dry.  Shampoos can be used occassionally to get a deeper clean.  A regular "shampoo" should be done at least once a week. 


How to Co-Wash Your Hair?

Detangle and section the hair into at least four sections.  Thoroughly rinse your hair. While hair is soaking wet, finger-comb hair under running water, one section at a time.  Apply the conditioner of choice to your tresses and work the conditioner through each section as you would your shampoo.

After applying the conditioner you can place your shower cap and continue to take a bath or finish your shower, giving the conditioner time to penetrate your tresses.  Rinse your hair and Voila!  Done!

It's a process as quick as 1, 2, 3!

What Are the Benefits of Co-Washing?

Most African American "natural" hair wearers report seeing results of co-washing in the first week of using this method.

They report the following benefits:

  1. Hair is much softer.
  2. Hair is more manageable.
  3. Hair is easier to de-tangle.

More than any other hair type, women with coarse, curly hair must condition every time they shampoo.

Shampooing your natural locs too often with sulfate-based products will rob the scalp and hair of moisture. Moisture is the ultimate friend of "natural hair."

Curly hair should not be washed every day. You'll only dehydrate hair and make it more frizzy and unmanageable.

How Often Can I Co-Wash My Hair?

According to the research that I've done and the information that I've received from well-versed natural hair "" mavens, you can co-wash your hair on a daily basis.


Shampoo is meant to remove dirt, sebum (a.k.a. oils), and product build-up from your hair.

Natural hair wearers will find that their curly hair is almost always dry hair.  This is because oils produced in the scalp do not travel as easily down the hair shaft as they do with straight hair.
Creamy, moisturizing shampoos work best for this hair texture. Look for wheat germ oil, shea butter and nut oils (macadamia, for example) in your shampoos. These tend to coat the hair shaft, trapping water inside.

What to Consider When Choosing a Conditioner

Conditioners are either "protein" or "moisturizer" based.

Protein Conditioners: are used to make hair stronger.


Strengthen dry, brittle hair Keep hair strong in preparation for relaxers and after relaxers Treat damage from heat styling Temporarily mend split ends

Moisturizing Conditioners: are meant to add shine, protect hair from drying out and allow for easier combing.

Natural hair wearers can and will use both. However, for every day usage they will use a moisturizing conditioner to keep their tresses from drying out.

Since you have not changed the natural characteristics of your hair, you can use a "protein" conditioner every month or every 2 months depending upon the condition of your hair.

Relaxed Hair Wearers can and will use both. However, they often need to replace "protein" to their tresses due to the chemical change made to hair during the relaxing process. It is a must that as a "relaxed hair wearer" that you "must" replenish the protein to strengthen your tresses.

Relaxed Hair Wearers should use a protein conditioner at least once a month and two weeks after getting your hair relaxed or permed.

Please be warned that there is such a thing of "too much of a good thing." The protein hardens the cuticle layer and puts a protective barrier around the weakened hair. Overusage of a protein-based product can cause hair breakage.

How to Protein Codition My Hair?

You will need a few items:  a protein conditioner, a moisturizing conditioner, a plastic cap, and a hooded or cap dryer.

After washing and conditioning your hair, apply your protein conditioner thoroughly.

  1. Pin it up and put on a plastic cap.
  2. Sit under the dryer on warm for at least 15-20 minutes.  Let cool.
  3. Rinse and apply a moisturizing conditioner.


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    • Lady Summerset profile image

      Lady Summerset 7 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Thanks Melbel, my family still is getting use to the idea! LOL! After all, I hadn't seen my natural hair in over 30 years! ;)

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      I think it's really cool that you're keeping your hair natural. I think more African American women should do that. By adding chemical straighteners, all people are doing are conforming to some stupid reasoning that a white person's hair is "better." It's not better, it's just different. Plus it's outrageously expensive to constantly treat hair. Like you said above, you can get V05 for $1. To be honest, I think African American women who keep their hair natural look confident and it's cooler that way in my opinion.

    • Lady Summerset profile image

      Lady Summerset 7 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Thanks for your comment mariewrites. It works for me. You can get V05 or Suave conditioners for $1.00 and under! Happy co-washing!

    • profile image

      mariewrites 7 years ago

      Thanks I will try it.