by Perri Lembo, un’ruly contributor
As the harmful effects of some shampoos become increasingly well-known, ladies that want to maintain healthy and moisturized locks are seeking alternatives. Enter, cowashing! Touted as the perfect way to keep hair clean while retaining maximum moisture, cowashing is especially useful for natural, curly hair.
What is it? Cowashing is short for “conditioner washing”, literally washing your hair using conditioner (and skipping the shampoo).
How is it done?
- Rinse hair thoroughly with water in the shower.
- Apply a generous amount of conditioner and scrub from roots to ends. You may choose to leave it in for several minutes while you shower.
- Rinse out thoroughly.
- It’s best to use a regular conditioner, not a deep conditioner or a leave-in, as these are more likely to create build-up.
- Washing hair with shampoo occasionally, anywhere from once a week to once a month is essential for preventing buildup of the conditioner in your hair, which will happen eventually.
- Using styling products will necessitate more frequent shampooing
Another option is to avoid harsh products altogether, opting to wash with only water or some all-natural cleansers.
What is it? No-Poo simply means “no shampoo” and usually means no conditioner as well. It’s based on the idea that people were able to keep their hair reasonably clean before shampoos were invented, so perhaps we don’t need them now. No-Poo proponents are also quick to point out the harmful and environmentally damaging ingredients present in most shampoos and conditioners.
How is it done? Some choose to only wash their hair with water, but for those who feel that this won’t get their hair clean enough, a popular approach is to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
- Create a solution of baking soda and water: 1 tbsp of baking soda to 1 cup (250ml) of water (try to use distilled water if you live in a hard water area). Once the baking soda has completely dissolved, the solution should feel slippery in your hands. If it doesn’t, add another tbsp of baking soda and lastly, store in squeeze bottle.
- Create a solution of vinegar and water: 2 tbsp of vinegar to 1 cup of water. Shake to combine. Store in spray bottle.
- Wet hair, and using the pointed tip of the bottle, apply the baking soda solution to the roots of your hair and massage into your scalp with your fingertips using small circular motions. DO NOT apply this mixture to the entire length of your hair. Leave on till it starts to feel “slippery” then RINSE WELL.
- Spray the vinegar/water solution on the length of your hair, focusing on the ends. Leave this on for a minute or two before rinsing.
- This option runs the risk of leaving hair dry. It is best to condition hair with an all-natural oil such as coconut oil, which penetrates the hair shaft deeply.
- The hair will take a few weeks to adjust to the new treatment. Do not get discouraged if your hair doesn’t immediately look its best. Give it a try for at least 2-3 weeks before deciding that it is not for you. You may need to adjust the recipes according to the needs of your hair. Add more baking soda for oily or extra dirty hair. Add more apple cider vinegar for drier hair.
- Do not apply the vinegar solution to the roots.
Summary: Cowashing vs. No-Poo
Cowashing seems to be the better option for those with dry hair, and for those who still want to feel like they are putting “something” in their hair. It’s good to use while transitioning to No-Poo if that is your ultimate goal.
Both shampoos and conditioners contain harmful and unnatural substances so the No-Poo option may be best for those who are more environmentally conscious or who want the most “natural” option.
Either way, you are avoiding the use of shampoos, which often do nothing but dry out your hair!