How To: Co-Washing My 4c Hair
Co-washing is an absolute essential in my natural hair regimen. Let’s start with breaking down the lingo shall we? Co-washing (Conditioner Washing) is simply washing your hair using a conditioner instead of shampoo. Sounds strange? Well washing your hair out with shampoo frequently can dry your hair out excessively and strip your hair and scalp of natural oils and moisture, leaving your hair dry and frizzy. Co-washing on the other hand is more gentle because conditioner(as its name suggests) conditions your hair, leaving it clean, soft and moisture-rich without the harsh lather of a shampoo.
I shampoo my hair monthly, and I co-wash my hair weekly if i’m wearing it out, or bi-weekly if my hair is in a protective style (such as the twists I’ve been wearing religiously. Protective styling=Less manipulation=Length retention=Longer hair! I will tackle this formula in another post). Between my monthly shampoo session and the bi-weekly co-washes, I keep my hair hydrated using this method (nobody got time for dry hair).
My hair is getting longer and i’ll be honest, wash day can sometimes be overwhelming. I’ve managed to simplify my co-washing process, because at the end of the day who wants to spend hours in the bathroom washing hair? Definitely not me! The whole process took me about 30-45 minutes, let’s get started…
The first thing I do is section my hair. This makes life so much easier and makes handling my thick hair less of a hassle. Parting hair into sections also ensures that you evenly coat your hair with the conditioner.
Working on one section at a time, I spray my apple cider vinegar and water mixture to my scalp and gently massage it in(mix one part apple cider vinegar to two parts of water). Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural cleanser and lifts dirt and product buildup from your hair.
I then add coconut oil to the section. This helps with the retention of moisture and protects my strands during the washing process.
Next add a healthy amount of conditioner to the section. I use the Suave Naturals conditioner which i talked about here. Using the finger detangling method instead of a comb, i detangle the entire section. Detangling on conditioned hair causes less friction which means less breakage. The coconut oil mixed with the conditioner creates great slip and virtually melts the tangles away! Twist up the section and repeat the steps on remaining sections.
It is always important to note how much hair you shed during detangling. Some shedding is normal because hair does shed naturally. Excessive shedding however could mean that your hair is breaking. The difference between naturally shed hair and broken hair, is that naturally shed hair has a white bulb at the tip, while broken hairs do not. (Here’s a helpful link i found)
Shower time! Take down one section at a time and rinse under warm water as you massage your scalp. You can add conditioner to the section and wash your hair as you would with shampoo. Be sure rinse thoroughly! I rinse my hair with COLD water, this shocks my hair and scalp, and closes the cuticles allowing me to retain more moisture. I then twist the section to avoid tangling and to keep my hair stretched. This is what my freshly washed, shrunken hair looks like.
Next I add in my DIY leave-in conditioner (I will definitely share the recipe, I use it religiously after every wash!), then seal in the moisture by coating my hair with my DIY Shea Butter Cream.
I don’t use heat to straighten or dry my hair, blow driers and flat irons can be quite damaging. Instead, I stretch my hair by twisting it into large sections and bunning it. I wear this protective style for about two days (or until my hair is dry).
Et Voila! Clean, soft, moisturised hair in a few simple steps!
Happy Nappy Hair!