Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hair Practices: Co-washing

Hi Ladies,

Let's talk about the ever so popular co-washing. I remember when I first heard about co-washing it was such a weird concept at the time. I had just started my healthy hair journey and taking care of my natural hair was such a pain (I was natural at the time). Now, I dont think I can go a week without  it....

So to start, what exactly is co-washing?

Co-washing is washing your hair with conditioner. Yes, thats what I said, washing your hair with CONDITIONER.

Why would someone wash their hair with conditioner?? *confused face*

Traditionally, we all associate washing our hair with that sqeaking clean feeling that shampoo gives us.  This method of cleaning is what has been showcased in the media for years, but, what we fail to realise, is the race of the women and the type of hair in these commercials. Straight hair gets oily and weighed down faster because natural sebum can move freely down their strands. So in this case, once the hair is not processed, they can use shampoo to strip the oil from their strands. In a couple of days, because of their hair texture... their hair is going to get oily and weighed down again..and they shampoo again. This is fine for naturally straight hair that has not been processed in anyway.

We African women on the other hand, need to clean our hair using different methods. Our hair is naturally dry because its difficult for sebum to move down curly textured hair. Relaxed hair or any other type of processed hair is also dry because of the chemicals. This is why we all have that extra step of sealing in moisture. So how do you clean hair that deperately needs all the oils it can possibly get? 

Yep, thats it, COWASHING!!

When to co-wash?

Now just to clear things up, I am not against the use of shampoo. To answer the question, it depends on the individual.

I use diluted shampoo (containing sulfates) once a week on my wash day, then I follow up with a co-wash (instead of shampooing twice) and then a good deep condition. I use silicones, gels and heavy butters in my hair... so once a week I strip everything out to prevent build-up. I also co-wash mid week on Wednesdays.

How to co-wash?

Firstly, it's best to use a cheap conditioner because you are going to need alot of it. I think the best way to co-wash is to apply the conditioner to the length of the hair (not on the scalp as much), especially to the new growth if stretching or transitioning. Use a downward motion to apply the conditioner from root to ends, this helps move unwanted substances down and out of hair. You can also finger detangle at this time to remove shed hairs. Now to clean the scalp, stand under the shower, using the pressure of the water, rub your scalp in a circular motion using your finger pads. While you do this step, the conditoner should be washed out of your hair. Please do not pile your hair up to the top of your head like in the commercials...that is tanlge city.

Benefits of co-washing:

-Well first and foremost, the most obvious benefit is cleaning the hair without drying it out.

-If you exercise or swim regularly co-washing is definately a good way to clean the hair multiple times a week without drying it out. It is also excellent for people who naturally sweat alot in their heads.

- Co-washing makes detangling a breeze as it softens up the hair, this makes it very useful to transitioners and long tem stretchers. I always de-tangle when my hair is full of conditioner.

-If you use gels and other holding products its advisible not to leave these products in your hair for a long period of time, especially if your use gel everyday to hold down your edges. This is why I co-wash and re-style my hair mid-week.

Wow, I really didn't intend for the post to be this long but I really wanted you to understand this concept as it has made such a huge difference in my hair journey.

As usual, thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions/leave comments.