The Pros and Cons of the Co-Wash: What Really Happens

Emily Rekstis
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Via IMaxTree

Via IMaxTree

Short for conditioner washing, co-washing was first embraced by African-American and thick, curly-haired women. Now, thanks to the lived-in hair trend, more women are leaning towards this as a styling technique. However, there has been a lot of back and forth discussion on the true benefits of co-washing as the trend has gone mainstream. The technique has been rumored to cause a lot of build-up if not properly done, or even possibly lead to hair falling out. That’s why we decided to talk to the experts.
Celebrity hairstylists Sunnie Brook, Christine Symonds, and Rebekah Forecast gave us the low down on their thoughts about this co-washing trend. So before you decide to jump on the band-wagon, read these expert tips on the pros and cons of co-washing.
Best hair type
All experts agree that co-washing turns over the best results for women with thick, coarse, dry or curly hair. If your hair is already thin and fine, co-washing will not add texture to it, it will only appear flatter and more oily. While Symonds does recognize that there are different formulas for many hair types these days, “I still think the best candidate for this technique is thick, curly, textured hair.”
However, those of you experiencing drier hair with the cold months approaching, co-washing may be the technique for you. “Co-washing can be a great way to replenish dry strands and get life back into hair,” Symonds explains.
Adding it to your regimen
When starting off co-washing your hair, Symonds warns you to be aware of the effect this transition may have on your hair. She explains that it may take a few days for your scalp to adjust to a co-washing treatment and could feel oily at the start. So you’ll want to work it in to your routine gradually.
All the experts agree you should add it into your routine about once a week. It won’t shock the hair but will be done just enough to minimize the effects of over-washing. “After a night out or a heavy workout, a shampoo may be more desirable but after a regular day with light product a co-wash is great,” says Forecast.
If you are going to give it a go about once a week, apply the conditioner starting at the ends of your hair, and then work your way up to the scalp.
Pros of co-washing
On the pro side, there aremajor health benefits that come with co-washing. For instance, it allows the natural oils to cleanse and condition the hair and scalp. Using shampoo too often can strip the hair due to the harsh chemicals. Therefore, co-washing provides a great conditioning treatment for your hair while also providing mild cleansing agents explains Symonds.
It doesn’t just benefit health, but also helps with styling purposes. We’ve all experienced the difficulty of styling squeaky-clean hair. It can be limp and keen on slipping from the pins. Brook points out that “It can also be a great option over that first day of fluffy hair you get after a good shampoo cleansing.” So if you want to rock an intricate hairstyle, co-washing before may be the best cleansing option.
Cons of co-washing
Some disadvantages of co-washing include hair feeling dull and heavy as Brook explains. She even says that she’s found clients with thick hair who use this technique sometimes have a bit of a musky smell to the hair instead of fresh and clean like you would achieve with shampooing.
Forecast also explains that due to co-washing, “the hair follicle may not breathe at its best, which is required for healthy growth.” So if you’re trying to grow out your hair, this may not be the best time for you to try this trend.
Products recommended 
As for the products, it’s important to use products specifically designed for this use to minimize the build-up. “Start light and go to a heavier formula if needed,” recommends Forecast.

She suggests using high quality conditioners like L’Oreal, Kerastase and water soluble styling products.

Brook also recommends using an anti dandruff conditioner like Green Apple by Head & Shoulders. “This will keep your scalp healthy and keep your hair smelling great.”

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