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Cowashing is a popular technique adopted by curlies everywhere. Simply, conditioner washing is what cowashing entails. You are essentially replacing shampoo with conditioner to gently cleanse and condition the hair. The point is to eliminate sulfates which are commonly found in shampoos that creates the “scrubbing bubbles”. Cowashing is also done to lessen the frizz factor and another great benefit is to add weight to the hair in order for curls to become more elongated and stretched. 

Conditioners can detangle the hair while depositing moisture into and again, is used to gently cleanse the hair and scalp from dirt build up. But conditioners can also leave more buildup on the hair than shampoo because it 1. may not be strong enough to remove heavy product build up and 2. sticks to the hair strands, leaving some of the product on the hair after rinsing, naturally.

Although cowashing can have its setbacks such as buildup, heaviness, and dullness, there are ways to successfully cowash without having as many issues. 

  • Check the products you are using. You may be using the wrong type. Deep conditioners may be too heavy to cleanse the hair and may just add to buildup instead. 
  • There has been a practice to “leave a little conditioner” in the hair after conditioning, but this can lead to dull, grey and gummy hair, save this method for swimming instead. 
  • Cowashing does not cut grease, so depending on what stylers and sealers you are using, the conditioner may simply add a layer to the hair, leaving a nasty residue.
  • Cowashing can be done once a week, but the more often you do it, the more you’ll need to consider using shampoo or a clarifier at least once a month.
  • Conditioners with silicones in them could make things worse. Just check to see if the silicone in the conditioner washes away with water or not. You’ll want one that is water soluable.
  • Make sure that your water temperature isn’t too hot or cool as either could have a negative effect on the hair. 

You can forsake traditional shampoos for cowashing, but today, there are more natural shampoos on the market than ever before. The main point is to be sure that you clarify at least once a month to remove the buildup that conditioners can leave on the hair.