Cowashing– Helpful or Just Another Fad?

I really became interested in the health of my hair about five years ago.  At that time, I can say my hair journey began. I read everything I could get my hands on to change the condition of my hair.  Forums, blogs, YouTube, you name it I was consumed by it. My hair type is 4b relaxed and the problem with my 4b hair was dryness.  This dryness led to shedding, continued breakage and trichoptilosis, also known split ends.  These factors kept me from retaining any length I had gained. My hair was always pretty, but at the expense of the health of my strands.  Pretty over healthy was the motto for myself.  Pretty and healthy was stressed for my clients. I needed to lead by example.

As a child, my hair was natural and I would sport a press and curl.  My mom would add oils to my hair and sometimes Vaseline to help with dryness during pressing.  Oils didn’t solve the problem. Oils will never solve the problem. Riddle me this, would you pick up a bottle of melted Vaseline because you were thirsty or would you grab a glass of water?  See my point? Hair needs moisture. Constant moisture was what I was missing.

During my research through Fotki albums, testimonials and hair forums, I saw the same words mentioned constantly, “stretching relaxers” and “cowashing.”  I have a license in cosmetology and in those 1500 hours of instruction, my instructor never mentioned stretching or cowashing.  (I will discuss relaxer stretching later.)

What is cowashing?  Cowashing stands for conditioner washing or cleansing with conditioner instead of cleansing with shampoo.  The product WEN is based on the premise of a cleansing conditioner. Unlike WEN, the conditioner you use for cowashing should be a cheap brand, preferably one that is thinner in consistency to rinse easily from the hair.  My conditioner of choice was /is Alberto VO5 Moisture Milks.

You can buy a bottle for less than a dollar at Kroger, even as low as fifty cents if you catch a deal.  To use, apply the conditioner liberally along the hair shaft.  Do not skimp on the amount you use because it’s cheap. This is why cheapie conditioners are important.

I usually cowash and place a plastic cap on my head until I finish showering.  After the shower, I pat my hair dry, apply S-Curl then a leave in of my choice.  I alternate between my two favorite leave-ins, Herbal Essence Long Term Relationship and Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner.  I finalize the process by sealing the hair with coconut oil.   Cowashing and S curl  provides the moisture, the leave ins offer additional protection and the coconut oil seals and traps the moisture in my hair.

Now don’t be grossed out by conditioner only washing.  Conditioners contain cleansing properties, but not to the extent of a shampoo which can contain moisture stripping sulfates.

Cowashing changed my life. Try it, you may like it.  If not, it’s only conditioner.


**Make sure to clarify your hair at your discretion.  A conditioner only cleansing routine over time can lead to product buildup.**


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