Thursday, May 21, 2015

Co-Washing: Is it for you?

Posted by Jen Lennox at 2:46 PM

When I first started reading bout the Curly Girl method, the thing I struggled most with was the concept of essentially never using regular shampoo on my hair again. I've spent 35+ years lathering up my head almost daily, the thought that those days would have to be a thing of the past was an uncomfortable thought.

My initial doubts were due to my belief that not using shampoo would cause me to look and feel greasy, which I think are the thoughts of many women going into this process. Having to read labels constantly also led me to the realization that PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING on the shelves is loaded with all of the "evils" this method preaches against. However, I became tired of the constant washing/drying/straightening routine that I'd been a slave to all of my life, so I decided to go for it. Know what I found out? IT WORKS. This method really, really works for my hair. But...not all hair is equal. Like I said in a previous entry, I know many women who regularly wash with sulfate shampoo and use silicone products and have no problems at all. If you're NOT happy with how your curls are forming, it may be time to try the CG method on for size.

Like I've said before, I have 2C, low porosity, medium density hair. I didn't even KNOW I was low porosity until I did the "bowl" test (put a few strands of hair in a bowl full of water, if it floats, its low porosity. If it sinks, it's high). Most of us with color treated hair lose porosity, and my hair is also fairly dense. In layman's terms, it's starved for moisture. Big time. So all of the shampooing, color treating and straightening was killing my curl pattern. 

One of the biggest realizations I've come to along my journey to embrace my curly hair is that pretty much nothing in the regular, conventional hair aisle is going to work for me. Where I've found my treasure? THE ETHNIC AISLE. Yes, ladies. That section of the store that most white girls ignore their whole lives is EXACTLY where we should have been shopping all along. And you know? There are some absolutely amazing sulfate-free, silicone-free products that SMELL DIVINE in that section. It's where I spend most of my time now. It's where I found my newest favorite co-wash:

As I Am Coconut CoWash is my newest BFF.  I love this stuff.

"Co-washing" is the concept of using a conditioner to scrub your scalp and remove dirt, sweat and build-up from products. If you're using silicone-free products, they wash out just fine with conditioner. The illusion that only shampoo cleans hair is just that: an illusion. I've been co-washing on and off for a year and now I co-wash almost exclusively. Once every couple of weeks I will use a low-sulfate shampoo, but other than that, co-washing has worked for me. My curls are starting to form with less and less frizz and my "good hair days" happen far more often than not.

To Co-wash, simply use your product of choice to scrub your scalp all the way around you head. Rinse. Use a heavier, thicker conditioner for the length of your hair.

My current favorite is Shea Moisture's Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Conditioner, pictured below:

That's it! Rinse out and style with your favorite silicone-free styling products. My can't-live-without product for my own curls is Kinky Curly Curling Custard, pictured below (it can be found at most Target stores, some Walgreens and also online):

ALL THREE of these products are found in the ethnic section and I've probably walked right by them hundreds of times in all of my shopping trips for hair products. Now that I know my own hair type, I'm able to shop for products accordingly and know what will and won't work. It saves a lot of money and a lot of frustration, so I encourage you to really read up and know what kind of hair you're working with.

Occasionally, you may want to use a Low-Poo (low sulfate) to clarify your hair. I do this once a week or every two weeks and it really makes a difference! My favorite Low-Poo is DevaCurl Low-Poo. It lasts me quite a while because of how infrequently I use it, but it smells great and doesn't strip hair like some clarifying shampoos can.

My favorite resource for finding products is the product center. There are great product reviews for all hair types, so check it out! If there are any products you find that you absolutely love, let me know and I'll showcase them on my blog.

Do you Co-wash? Have you ever tried? What's worked and what hasn't? What's holding you back?



Doreen Dawson said...

Hi Jen (:

I am also a Curly Girl Follower. I have 3a low porosity thick course hair. It has been so dry and lacked moisture since I was little. I also straightened my hair religiously and neglected caring for my curls for almost 10 years.

But within this past month, I have tried the co wash method. I use the suave naturals coconut conditioner every 2-3 days as my co wash. and tresume naturals as a rinse out. I leave some in as a leave in, but I also use Kinky Curly Knot Today as a leave in as well.

Let me tell you, my hair is so much softer and moisturized after using these products. Even before I put any stylers in my hair, I can see definition and curls forming that I never knew I had.

I use AG recoil cream and LA sports Gel as my stylers while my hair is wet and I normally let it air dry, sometimes I will diffuse. I like the results so far.

The only thing I can't seem to do is use oils or butters on my hair to seal in moisture. Just leaves my hair weighed down and frizzy.

But I do have some days where no matter I do, my hair is frizzy and lacks curl definition, I have found a few protective hairstyles to mask these bad hair days. Or even wearing a hat helps.

Thank you for this blog its so nice to see a fellow curly girl following the curly girl method and all the information on the process is so helpful!

Jen Moore said...

Thanks, Doreen! I wrote a huge response to you and can't seem to find it now, so I'll respond again.

I think my biggest surprise in this process is that my hair can not only look and feel clean, but look and feel healthier without using shampoo. This was a big hold-out for me in the beginning because I love the lather I get on my hair when I wash it. I thought for sure I would be a gross, greasy mess only co-washing, but the exact opposite ended up happening.

I can't use butters or oils either... the only way to do it is to use a sulfate to get them out, which then defeats the whole purpose, and yet I am definitely struggling with some frizz issues of late. I'm going to try a few different things and write about my experiences with them to see if I can get it under control for summer.

I have heard nothing but great things about Suave Coconut conditioner. Seriously, every single person who's used it that I know of loves it. I may end up trying it at some point! Part of the fun of this method is trying new things and seeing how your hair responds. Thanks so much for reading!!

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