Co-Washing: 7 Easy Steps on How to Co-Wash Hair

If you care about your hair, then you know this popular truth by now:

“Shampoos strip the hair of natural oils and moisture.”

Hence, caring for your hair involves that you shampoo your hair less often.

Does that mean that you leave your hair dirty even when you get dust and product buildup often?

No. Co-Washing is the way out! 

In this post, you’ll learn what co-washing is and how to co-wash hair. 

By the time you are done reading, you’ll be on the right track to saving your hair’s moisture and natural oil.

How to co-wash hair velacurls

What is Co-Washing? 

You may not have guessed, but co-washing is short for Conditioner Washing. It means washing the hair with a conditioner only, no shampoo. 

Why should washing the hair with conditioner only even be a thing?

Because, as mentioned at the onset, shampoos remove necessary oil and moisture from your hair. This is because they mostly contain Sulfates. 

So instead of washing the hair with shampoos all the time, thereby depriving the hair of what it needs, many hair lovers have opted for this new trend — Co-Washing.

That way, they can keep their hair clean and their hair’s natural oil intact.

Although there are special cleansers designed for co-washing, your regular conditioner can be used to co-wash.

Especially if you have full, thick hair, you should use your usual conditioner for co-washing. Co-washing cleansers are best for those with fine, light hair.

They are formulated such that they do not leave the hair heavy and greasy after co-washing. 

Now that you know what co-washing is all about, let’s take you through a step-by-step breakdown of how to co-wash hair. 

How to Co-Wash Hair 

1. Choose the right conditioner

If you’re co-washing your hair to protect it, you must use the right conditioner.

Avoiding shampoos to protect the hair only to end up using a bad conditioner is pointless. 

The most important thing to look for in a conditioner for co-washing is that it contains No Silicone. Find out why you should avoid this ingredient in hair products

If your hair is not thick, opt for a co-washing cleanser. 

Once you have chosen the right conditioner for your hair, get the following materials for co-washing ready: 

● a wide-toothed comb

● enough water 

● an old t-shirt 

Now, move on to the next step. 

2. Wet your hair

Before you apply the conditioner, wet your hair. This helps to ensure that the conditioner gets to all parts of your hair evenly.

The amount of water needed to get the hair wet differs from hair to hair.

For example, coarse hair types require more water than fine hair. You just add water to your hair till it feels damp.  

3. Apply Conditioner

It is best to part your hair into four sections for this step. You will find it easier to thoroughly apply the conditioner when the hair is in smaller sections. 

After parting the hair, put a little conditioner in your hands and apply it to one section.

Start with the hair tip, using your fingers to detangle the tips. Work your fingers through until you get to the hair roots.

Then, gently massage the scalp to clean it using your fingertips, not your nails. Keep massaging until it feels like the previous buildup has been cleaned off your scalp.

4. Comb Hair 

After detangling and massaging, use a wide-toothed comb to comb out that hair section. Ensure that you start combing from the tip also. 

Once you’re done with one hair section, do the same with the other hair sections. 

5. Rinse Conditioner out of Your Hair

It is best to use lukewarm water for this.

Warm water helps remove previous products and dirt buildup from hair easily. Pour clean, lukewarm water on your hair, using your fingers to work through strands as you rinse.

Conditioners are usually greasy, so you’ll need more water than you would use if you were doing a shampoo wash.

Rinse with lots of water until you no longer get the greasy feel that comes with conditioners. 

If your hair’s especially dirty, or you’re washing after a very long time, you may have to add more conditioner after the first rinse and repeat the last two steps.

6. Dry Hair 

When your hair is clean, gently squeeze out excess water. This is where the old t-shirt comes in.

Instead of using a towel to dry your hair, use the t-shirt. Using a towel can damage your wet tresses especially if you rub it on your hair vigorously.

If you do use a towel, only use it to pat your hair gently so that it absorbs dripping water.

Then, leave your hair to air dry. 

7. Apply a Leave-in Conditioner

While this is optional, it’ll benefit your hair. Once your hair has airdried a bit, apply the leave-in conditioner and style whichever way suits you.

By following those seven easy steps, you have just successfully co-washed your hair.

Let’s now see answers to some frequently asked questions about co-washing. They include extra information you should know about co-washing.

Frequently Asked Questions On How to Co-Wash Hair 

What are the Benefits of Co-Washing for Hair?

Asides from the obvious benefit of retaining moisture, co-washing also makes your hair easy to detangle and lustrous.

Making co-washing a regular habit will leave your hair smooth and shiny, with well-defined curls. 

What Should I Look Out for in a Conditioner for Co-Wash?

As you ensure that the conditioner you use does not contain silicone, you also want to ensure that it does contain emollients, protein, humectants, and moisturizers.

These ingredients will make your hair moisturized, strengthened, soft, and smooth after co-washing. 

How Often Should I Co-Wash My Hair? 

Co-washing is a method of washing your hair so it should be done as often as you wash your hair normally. 

Ideally, that should be once a week.

Then again, it could differ from hair to hair. Start with once a week.

As you continue, you’ll be able to decide how often your hair needs to be co-washed. 

Which Hair Types Require Co-Washing the Most? 

Curly, coarse, and dry hair types need co-washing the most. Those with such hair types should reduce shampooing and do more co-washing. 

Those with fine, light, or oily hair do not necessarily need co-washing.

If done, it should be with a lightweight conditioner (co-washing cleansers) that will not leave the hair greasy and weighed down after co-wash. 

Does Co-washing Help Hair Grow? 

Co-washing helps your hair to retain moisture and stay healthy. That will prevent dryness, which often leads to breakage. 

So when you co-wash your hair, it will be able to retain its length and your hair growth will be significant. 

However, co-washing does not directly increase hair growth. 

Is Co-washing Only for Natural Hair? 

No. While natural hair needs co-washing more than other hair types, other hair types can also benefit from co-washing. 

No matter what your hair type is, you need less shampooing and more moisture retention. 

Why Does Natural Hair Need More Co-Washing?

Natural hair is usually dry, even without any external effect.

The hair’s curly pattern makes it difficult for oil and moisture to slide down the hair shaft.

Therefore, if you have natural hair, you should be doing all you can to keep in the little moisture your hair can get.

Replacing the usual shampoo washing with co-washing is an excellent way to do that. 

How Long Does it Take for Hair to Adjust to co-Washing?

Your first few co-wash trials might leave your hair with a greasy feel.

But after two or three trials, your hair will adjust to co-washing and you can enjoy the many benefits. 

Do I Still Need a Shampoo if I Co-Wash Often?

Occasionally, you may use shampoo to wash your hair to achieve that squeaky cleanliness.

If you co-wash your hair weekly, you can slot in a shampoo wash once every six weeks.

Of course, it should be a Sulfate and Paraben free shampoo. 

Can I Co-Wash Every Day?

The idea is to co-wash as often as you would wash your hair normally.

If that is every day, then yeah, you can co-wash every day. Just remember to occasionally fix in a shampoo for thorough scalp cleansing.

Who Should Avoid Co-Washing? 

Those with flaky scalp caused by dandruff should avoid co-washing.

Since excess oil on the scalp triggers dandruff, the oiliness caused after co-washing may worsen their scalp condition.

Also, conditioner-only washing will not be able to remove flakes and excess oil on a flaky scalp. 


Co-washing is an excellent way to balance keeping your hair clean and keeping your hair’s moisture intact.

The seven steps discussed on how to co-wash hair will guide you through this hair process.

Make sure that you choose the right conditioner or cleanser, and you can be sure to enjoy the many benefits of co-washing! 

Hey, hair lover, this post may contain affiliate links. So if you buy a product through a link in the post, I’ll earn some commission at no extra cost to you.

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