By Hadassah Agbaps - June 01, 2020

Conditioner washing a.k.a co washing is a method of washing hair without the use of shampoos. Hair conditioners are used alone to wash the hair.

Naturals with very kinky, tightly coiled hair will benefit from this type of washing as unlike shampoos it cleans the hair without stripping it of natural oils.

If you notice your hair gets dry, dull and hard easily, this may be your miracle!

How do cowash work to cleanse hair?

Conditioners contain fatty acid alcohols such as cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol etc. These are emulsifiers and mild non ionic surfactants. Emulsifiers help make oils soluble in water and vice versa. Surfactants weaken adhesion forces that hold grime to hair and help make it easy for them to be rinsed out.
Conditioners thus can act as auxiliary cleansing agents though with poor foaming capacity. 

- Softens and moisturises hair for longer. Very good for transitioners because it softens new growth so less breakage at point where relaxed hair meets curly hair.

- Reduces tangles.
Conditioners reduce static electricity and friction  between hair fibres. They do this by forming positive charges which neutralise negative charges in hair formed during combing, brushing, when hair is damaged and when alkaline hair products are used.

- Defines curls/coils. You get to see your real curl pattern and there's ease of detangling.

- Hair grows longer as the hair breaks less due to less dryness.

- Conditioners are usually acidic. Low pH protonates keratin proteins giving hair a more compact structure. They also help preserve dyes in colored hair.

- Over use of conditioner can soften the hair to the point where it breaks.
 So moderation is the key.
If you hair feels too stretchy and limp, you've overconditioned.
This can be reversed by doing a protein treatment.

- If you use a lot of products, stylers and creams that aren't easily rinsed out with water, cowash cleansers may be insufficient to completely get scalp clean. This could lead to buildup and itchy scalp.
It is thus advised to introduce clarification with a sulfate free shampoo at least once a month. 


-Look for inexpensive conditioners that contain low amounts of cationic polymers, insoluble silicones, heavy butters/oils and proteins. For this reason, deep conditioners which are usually high in the above are not suitable for cowashing. 
Choose instead lightweight rinse out conditioners and dedicated cowash cleansers.
Check here for recommendations. 

- Shampoo hair if it's your first time of co washing.

- Part hair into two or four sections depending on hairlength and thickness.

- Apply conditioner to each section of wet or dry hair.

- Wash scalp with fingertips by massaging in direction of hair growth. Gentle scrubbing motion helps dislodge dirt and grime for easy rinsing. Rinse out with warm water.

- Reapply conditioner...this time from the ends to midway avoiding scalp. Detangle hair gently from tips to root using a widetooth comb.

Optional: Twist each detangled section.

-Rinse using cold water. This adds shine.

- Blot dry without disturbing curl pattern, apply oil/ butter and leave to air dry.

Because this method of washing is gentler on natural hair, you can cowash whenever your hair is dirty or sweaty.

However, do not cowash often as constant wetting and drying causes hair to expand and contract which can weaken it. Limit washing to once a week.

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