The Pros and Cons of Co-Washing Your Hair

               It's easy to assume that most women know what co-washing is because more and more women are doing it. Co-washing, (Conditioner Only Wash) is the process of eliminating shampoo when washing the hair. Shampoos contain harsh chemicals like sulfate that can strip the hair from its natural oil. The overuse of shampoo can also lead to dry scalp,  split ends,  and frizz.  As a woman with coarse, dry hair, co-washing has been good to me. But to tell you the truth, I don't like the idea of using a conditioner only to wash my hair. Co-washing once a week is the most I can do. I mostly co-wash my hair after a workout or if the hair feels a little dry between washes. And when I do wash with shampoo, I prep my ends with a regular conditioner and wash the scalp with a regular moisturizing shampoo  mixed with tea tree and peppermint oils, plus a little bit of water. This way I don't have to worry about my ends getting too dry.
It is obvious that if you have straight, oily hair, co-washing won't do you any good. Only a good moisturizing shampoo can take care of this problem. Using a sulfate-free shampoo might also work for you. While washing your hair with a conditioner only can benefit your strands, it can also be a disadvantage if not done properly or too often.

The pros and cons of co-washing your hair

  • Lessens frizz and dryness
  • Helps with oil retention 
  • Adds hydration
  • Contains no sulfate
Co-washing helps with oil retention because, as mentioned above, it does not strip the hair from its natural oil. It actually adds oil to your hair and helps keep it hydrated. Conditioners contains no sulfate, which result in the hair looking shinier and healthier. Co-washing also fights dryness and helps the hair stay soft and frizz-free.

  • Costly
  • Shedding, itching, and stickiness
  • Over conditioning the hair
  • Adds extra oil to the hair
Due to the fact that most conditioners only contain a small amount of gentle cleansers, a generous amount of conditioner is required to get you a good clean. While a little bit of shampoo is all you need to achieve clean hair and scalp. Co-washing your hair more than once a week may result in you spending more money on hair conditioners, too. 

Clean scalp means healthy scalp. Not using a clarifying shampoo at least once a month can result in product buildups and shedding. You know it's time for a clarifying shampoo when the hair starts feeling sticky and your scalp starts itching.  A clarifying shampoo is also important if you use silicone base conditioners to co-wash your hair. You will need a good clarifying shampoo and deep conditioner to remove a none-water soluble silicone from the hair strand.

The whole idea of ditching shampoo is to help the hair retain moisture. But keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much moisture. If your hair feels spongy or mushy, it's time to stop co-washing  and go back to adding some protein back into your hair regimen.

Most conditioners contain oils because their job is to add softness to the hair after shampooing. If your hair is already oily, then co-washing is not for you. It will only cause more product buildups and leave you with oily hair.

In conclusion,  you should keep the focus on your ends when co-washing your hair. Conditioners don't contain enough cleaning ingredients to thoroughly clean your scalp, especially if you use heavy creams and oils on your hair.   Limit the amount of time you co-wash your hair, as co-washing your hair too often can lead to product buildups and shedding.

 What is your view on ditching shampoo and co-washing the hair?



  1. My hair would look like a greasy mess if I co-washed because it's straight and already oily. I wash my hair every other day to keep it looking flowy and clean. I recently tried a cowashing product that my sister got from a friend and it did feel a bit sticky afterwards. I could also run my finger nail to the top of my head and catch build up right after. Not a fan you can say. You're right, it totally depends on your hair type. Glad you wrote about this. :))


  2. Thanks for the tips nerline. Although i dont like washing my hair with conditioner only.
    I use hair mask to condition my hair and then afterwards wash it with shampoo.

  3. I have two school-age daughters with kinky natural hair. They are very active and their hair gets dirty from activities, recess, and all the outdoor play they do. Their hair stylist warned me that hair that is covered with dirt will not absorb moisture as well. I have found that sulfate-free shampoos just do not do the job of getting their hair clean. About twice a month, I pre-poo with coconut oil and cleanse with normal shampoo, then deep condition. I co-wash in between if their hair is not dirty. (If I am handling their hair and getting dirt under my fingernails, I know it's time to clarify.) I co-wash in between if their hair starts looking and feeling dry, and of course add in daily moisture with spritzes and lotions as needed. I tried clarifying with apple cider vinegar, but I had to let it sit on their hair a long time to loosen all the dirt and oil, and it didn't wash away as easily as shampoo. In the summers, swimming in chlorinated pools seems to strip everything out of their hair - dirt, oil, and moisture - so we usually only co-wash then. I know some people say shampoo is the enemy, but we have worked it into our routine because we needed it, and it works for us :)

  4. Just make the usual shampoo Nerline, my hair are so thin to only co-washing, would be dirty in few hours again! xo

  5. HaHaHa Nerline! That is so true! Right now co-washing is working well for my damaged hair. But when it got healthy before I had to stop because it was just too much. But in this state? A miracle.

  6. I only shampoo twice a month with a sulfate free shampoo and 4-6 weeks with a sulfate shampoo. I think co-washing is great but at some point our hair will stop receiving the moisture due to product buld up which means shampooing is required at some point.

  7. I love a good cowash but I definitely feel a need to shampoo my hair regularly just for the reasons that you mentioned. I do not like to go more than 3 weeks or so without thoroughly shampooing. I use cowashing for an occasional moisture boost. This is a great post, Nerline!

  8. I wish I could but just the thought of not washing my hair with a shampoo makes me uneasy. Meanwhile, these are some great tips. Excellent post!!

  9. Sometimes I do this and then I have to wash it, it does help a lot. I only wash my hair once a week - if that, hahaaa!! I forget sometimes. But, shampoos can be harsh to the hair at times and I love conditioner :)) xx

    1. I understand what u mean! I wash once a week too

  10. Thanks for the input, Nerline! Always interesting to have details on haircare routines of others!!

    All the Cute
    Recent Post: Grey Toggle Coat

  11. Great post Sis. I co-wash every other week and wash with EverPure sulfate free shampoo on alternate weeks. When I am on vacay I usually co-wash everyday.

  12. Great post, Nerline. I haven't co-washed before, but have to try it and see how it will feel like on my hair.


  13. Very informative post, I must start using clarifying shampoo.

  14. I've recently started co-washing my hair as it helps tremendously with detangling my coily new growth. I'm a little wary because while I've heard stories about wonderful long-term results, I've also read some horror stories about thinning ends and breakage. Keeping an eye on my hair and hoping I'm one of the lucky ones!


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