Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Should I Shampoo or Co-wash my hair?

Co-washing: when you use conditioner to cleanse your hair in place of shampoo.

What is the purpose of co-washing instead of just shampooing the hair?
To try and cleanse the hair without drying it out in the process. Until recently, there were not a lot of non sulfate shampoos readily available to the consumer. Traditional shampoo has to many harsh chemicals in it, in particular sulfates, these sulfates dry your hair out. Sulfates not only clean but they strip all of the natural oils from the hair and leave most curly texture hair tangled.  For this reason many curly coily naturals turned to washing their hair with conditioner only. They found that using conditioner in the place of shampoo left the hair clean and moisturized.

Does conditioner clean the scalp good?
No, while some conditioners have a small amount of cleaning properties in them, they are not formulated to clean the hair. A conditioner is formulated to be applied to hair that has already been shampooed. Conditioner does not clean just as good or better than shampoo.

Is this a problem?
Yes it is because just like the rest of your body the hair needs to be cleansed properly and on a regular basis. Daily you accumulate dried sebum, salty sweat, dead skin cells, germs from your hands and hair tools, dirt and air pollutants on your hair. Conditioner alone will not remove all of this from your scalp. You need a product which is formulated for the purpose of cleaning the hair. Continuing to co-wash long term can lead to blocked hair follicles, scalp fungus and other scalp irritants. 

Well why do so many people continue to co-wash?
Because co-washing gives you immediate results and people love quick results. Co-washing does leave the hair very soft and way easier to untangle after cleansing. Also many do not know that their scalp is not being cleaned well when they conditioner wash, but once they read this article they will know. 
Shea Moisture shampoos are sulfate free

So if sulfates dry my hair out and conditioner washing does not clean my hair, what are my options?

Today you can easily walk into any beauty supply store, drug store or department store and find a bottle of non-sulfate shampoo. The hair companies have paid attention to the coily naturals and understand that many have figured out that sulfates are bad, bad, bad for the hair, so they stopped buying shampoo. Well now you have a variety of non sulfate shampoos available to choose from. For a few dollars more you can invest in a conditioning cleanser.

What is a conditioning cleanser?
This product is formulated with milder cleansing agents which are non sulfate. So they clean your hair and condition it in one step without drying your hair out. If it is a good conditioning cleanser you will not have to deep conditioner afterwards, thus saving you a step and cutting 45 minutes from your shampoo routine. The conditioning cleanser will give you the result of co washing, except it will cleanse your hair properly. If you suffer from very dry hair I recommend a conditioning cleanser over a non-sulfate shampoo.

Now you know what co-washing means and what it does and does not do. You know the importance of cleaning your scalp daily and what could potentially happen when the scalp is not properly cleansed. So now you decide for yourself which method would be good for you. You already have my recommendation. 
Healthy hair journey to you!

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com


  1. My preference has always been to shampoo rather than co-wash. However, because I am such a product junkie, I have vowed to use up my current stash of products before investing in any new ones. I do use a clarifying shampoo once a month, and if I use any products with petrolatum/mineral oil in them, I do use shampoo.

  2. hi Coilyqueen
    I have 4c hair a I believe. my hair around the peripheral is soft, light and curly and long, the ones on my crown is tightly coiled and thick and the back of my head is dense and but does not grow out, it is a the shorter than any part of my head. I am 4years natural and my hair has not done so well.
    I need tips to help me deal with it.

    thank you