What is co-washing?

What is co-washing? How to and top tips

If you’ve got curly hair, you’ve probably heard about or tried co-washing at some point in your hair journey. However, if you’re not sure what a co-wash is, how to co-wash your hair or whether it’s suited to your hair type, this article is for you!


What is co-washing?

Co-washing is a method of cleansing the scalp using a conditioner or specially formulated co-wash (cleansing conditioner). Put simply, co-washing = conditioner-washing.

“But how does conditioner clean the scalp?” I hear you ask! 

Co-washing is a much gentler way of cleansing the scalp than what most of us are used to. Because there are no harsh surfactants (e.g. sulphates) in co-wash products, the method cleanses the scalp without stripping its natural oils or drying the hair out.

However, the lack of harsher surfactants means co-washes don’t lather like regular shampoos, so the majority of the cleansing comes from you manually scrubbing your scalp. While specially designed co-wash products usually contain mild surfactants that help lift the dirt from your scalp, regular conditioners do not; meaning you’ll need to scrub for a little longer to lift any dirt and buildup.


Who can co-wash?

So, which hair type is co-washing best-suited to? Co-washing helps keep hair feeling soft and moisturised, so it’s great for individuals with naturally curly, dry or coarse hair. It can also benefit those who experience a dry scalp. Curly hair is naturally drier than straight and wavy hair, so you’ll most often see co-washes targeted to curls and textured hair. It won’t suit everyone, though. For example, those with straight, fine or oily hair may want to give co-washing a miss and instead opt for a sulphate-free lathering shampoo, like the Banana Butter Nourishing Superfood Shampoo.


Why would someone co-wash?

As mentioned above, co-washing is great for those with a dry scalp or textured hair that tends to lose moisture easily. Some people choose to co-wash exclusively, and others alternate between co-washing and using a regular shampoo. If you exercise regularly and don’t want to use a harsh cleanser each time you wash your hair, alternating may also work for you.


How to co-wash

Co-washing is a little different to cleansing your hair with a regular sudsy shampoo. With a regular shampoo, you don’t need to do much scrubbing for your scalp to feel clean. However, with a co-wash, you’ll need to scrub your scalp for about 3-5 minutes to ensure you’ve removed all dirt and buildup.

 Step 1: Wet your hair

Step 2: Mix the co-wash in your hands and apply directly to your scalp

Step 3: Massage your scalp in circular motions with your fingertips (avoid using your fingernails)

Step 4: Do this for 3-5 minutes or until your scalp feels clean

Step 5: Rinse (while massaging your scalp) and repeat if necessary

Step 6: Condition and detangle your hair as normal (although this co-wash is plenty conditioning as a standalone product!)


Pairing co-washing with clarifying

If you’re co-washing your hair regularly, it’s good practice to use a clarifying shampoo once a month or so. This will give your scalp a deeper cleanse and help remove any product buildup (which can cause problems in the long run). How often you need to clarify will depend on your hair type and the kind of styling products you use – it could be once a week, every other week, or once a month.


Switching from regular shampoo to co-wash

If you’re switching from a regular foaming shampoo (particularly one that contains sulphates) to a co-wash, it’s normal for your scalp to feel a little greasier than normal at first. This is because it can take a little while for the natural oils on your scalp to adjust to the milder cleanser, but after a month or so it should rebalance itself.


Banana Butter Nourishing Superfood Co-wash 

Umberto Giannini’s new Banana Butter Nourishing Superfood Co-wash is a sulphate and silicone-free non-foaming cleanser. The co-wash  is designed to nourish, restore shine and improve manageability for dry, frizzy and textured hair. It’s packed with nourishing ingredients, with the standout ones being banana extract and coconut oil.

So now that you know all about co-washing, it’s time to put what you’ve learnt into practice! As with everything that comes with building a haircare routine, you’ll need to play around to figure out what works best for your unique hair. Pay attention to how your hair looks and feels, and if something isn’t working for you, change it.

Check out the full Banana Butter range.

Written by Hannah Cook



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