Transitioning to natural hair is fun and liberating. You no longer feel the burden of baking your hair with a relaxer. However, it comes with its own demands. It’s an entirely new learning process to properly care for your natural curly textures. Learning about healthy hair practices like co-washing your natural hair is paramount.
When it comes to the care of your hair, finding the right hair products is vital. You need to get rid of products that contain ingredients like silicones. Overtime, silicones coat your hair making it feel dull and heavy. Sulfates, on the other hand, strip your hair of its natural oils making it dry and prone to breaking. One of the techniques you can apply to cut down the use of harmful chemicals is by co-washing your natural hair.
Co-washing your natural hair; what does it really mean?
The ‘co’ in co-washing stands for ‘conditioner’. Therefore, co-washing your natural hair simply means ‘conditioner washing’. You might have come across places where co-washing is defined as ‘conditioner-only washing’. Well, the second definition simply elaborates on the first. However, there is more to co-washing your natural hair than merely erasing shampoo from the picture.
Natural hair has varying volume and textures. For some black women, ditching relaxers presents a new problem. Your hair suddenly becomes difficult to comb. You were once used to straight hair but now you have to deal with tresses. Co-washing your natural hair can make it easier to handle this transition.
A shampoo is a combination of surfactant with co-surfactant. The surfactant mostly used are sodium Laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. The combination of the two in water results in the thick viscous liquid we call shampoo. Consequently, these compounds eventually lead to the loss of natural oils from the hair leaving it dry and brittle. However, it is not only shampoo that can make your hair feel this way. Poor diet and inadequate water intake can produce the same effect.
There are lots of products today which are labeled co-washes or cleansing conditioners which natural hair queens can use to subdue their hair without the negative effect of shampooing. Some of the benefits of co-washing your natural hair are;
- Gently eliminate the buildup of various products from the hair
- It is gentle on the hair
- It can be used to detangle the hair
- Makes the cuticle to lay flat leading to better retention of moisture as well as increased hair shine and strength.
The best times for co-washing your natural hair
The best time to switch from shampooing to co-washing your natural hair is when you notice your hair is flaky and brittle. However, deciding how many times you should co-wash is often a personal choice. Co-washing your natural hair has the potential of leading to more buildup because conditioners contain cationic surfactants. Since the hair is slightly negatively charged, they tend to stick to the hair.
You will benefit more from co-washing your natural hair if you make use of cleansing conditioners. These conditioners contain natural ingredients like aloe vera that cleans more than the regular conditioners. A few to check out are;
- Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask With Lemon (sephora.com)
- Purely Perfect Cleansing Crème (urbanoutfitters.com)
- L’OrÃ©al Paris EvercrÃ¨me Cleansing Conditioner (amazon.com)
- Ouidad Curl Co-Wash (amazon.com)
Co-washing your natural hair; how frequently should you do it?
There is no laid down the standard for co-washing your natural hair. The routine for co-washing your natural hair will depend entirely on the condition of your hair and your lifestyle. However, it is recommended that you co-wash your natural hair once or twice a week. With consistent care, your natural hair becomes healthier and grows faster.
Conditioners will remove less oil and dirt compared to shampoo. However, there is bound to be a buildup of chemicals over time even if you stick to co-washing alone. Therefore, while co-washing your natural hair, it is important to shampoo your hair once in two or four weeks. Ultimately, you have to experiment healthily and come up with a routine that works for you.
Steps to co-washing your natural hair
As may have already noticed, co-washing is not for everyone. However, if you are a candidate for co-wash, you can accomplish it in a few simple steps:
Step 1: Wet your hair
Fully saturate your hair with water by placing it under the shower for 2 to 3 minutes. You can compare this to soaking a dirty pot. This action loosens the dirt clinging to your hair making it easier for their wash off.
Step 2: Apply your co-wash conditioner
Squeeze a healthy amount of your co-wash conditioner onto your palm. The size doesn’t really matter as long as it is enough to coat the strands of your hair from the root to the tip. This may sometimes mean using up to a snooker ball size.
Step 3: Massage co-wash conditioner into your scalp
Gently massage your co-wash conditioner into your scalp. If you have full hair, you may need to divide it into three or more sections. It is easier to work with smaller sections of hair. Gently massage your scalp and hair in each section. Allow conditioner to settle in for about three to five minutes. However, if your hair is dry or damaged, you can leave up to ten minutes.
Step 4: Rinse
Thoroughly rinse off the conditioner with lukewarm water. Pay attention to your scalp to make sure you wash off excess conditioner.
Step 5: Apply oil
Applying a good oil helps the hair to absorb the leave-in conditioner. Some prefer to apply the oil to wet hair after gentle toweling. However, others let their hair dry before applying the oil.
Step 6: Apply a leave-in conditioner
Gently apply your leave-in conditioner and style your hair.
Step 7: Apply moisturizer
If there is a need for extra moisturizing, apply moisturizer to your hair. Perhaps, this is the most useful part for people with very dry hair.
Those are the simple steps for co-washing your natural hair. See the video below for a demonstration.