Curly hair and Afro textured hair are naturally dry because the hair’s natural sebum usually cannot travel down the strands from root to tip efficiently. This is due to the twists, bends and kinks in the strand that increase the surface area, therefore, increasing the time it takes for the whole strand to be lubricated. With straight hair, the oils (sebum) travel down the shaft with ease because there are no curves in the strand. For this reason, shampoos have a higher tendency to dry out our hair faster than straighter hair types due to the harsh ingredients they contain, such as, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Alcohol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate and certain Alcohols. These chemicals are what causes the solution to lather and foam and this strips the hair of its natural oils. London already has hard water so we do not need these harsh ingredients damaging our hair even further.
Not all shampoos contain sulphates. In fact I use a shampoo that is sulphate-free from the Creme of Nature line. It is also colour-safe and it cleans my hair just fine, getting rid of product build-up, dirt and toxins that have accumulated by the end of the month. However, most of the time I enjoy co-washing. Simply pick your favourite rinse – out conditioner and cleanse your hair with it!
What is Co-Washing?
Co-washing is simply washing your curly hair with conditioner-only and this could be weekly, every two weeks or multiple times during the week depending on your hair texture/type, scalp condition, weather or lifestyle. Some people like to use co-wash conditioners religiously, like the As I Am Coconut Co-wash Conditioner, but I prefer regular conditioners as I find them to be more moisturising and contain more slip to aid in detangling. I have tried co-wash conditioners in the past but they are not moisturising enough; in fact they are more cleansing (like a watered down shampoo) than moisturising.
You may be thinking, “Ew! Conditioner can never clean my hair properly – that is sooo gross.” Honestly, I questioned this method of cleansing myself when I newly started my hair journey but now I am never going to turn back. In my opinion, moisturising conditioners are just as cleansing as co-wash conditioners but are even better! Another reason I enjoy co-washing with regular conditioners, especially from the Tresemme brand, is because a lot of them contain oils, vitamins and minerals, such as Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Almond Oil and Vitamin B5. These moisturising agents are all beneficial nutrients for the hair and scalp.
You simply massage the conditioner into your scalp and the length of your hair as if using a shampoo, only this time, there is no lather.
Above is a picture of my Mother’s hair (3c/4a) snapped at different angles. It had just been washed with conditioner and as you can see, it looks very moisturised, shiny, hydrated and her curls are popping. This is what washing your hair with conditioner does – it cleans without stripping your hair of its natural oils so that it can flourish. Meanwhile, sulphate shampoos make it drier.
What co- washing does for the hair on a molecular level:
I saw this picture floating around Instagram and I thought it was quite interesting and wanted to share it with you guys. Although conditioner does aid in the appearance of damaged hair through providing moisture and hydrating your curls, it still may not be enough. Once it is rinsed out, the gaps in the hair re-open as conditioner only provides a temporary fix to damaged hair. If your hair is breaking off all the time and the ends are still knotted even after wash day, I would suggest it is time for a good trim. Breakage is not healthy!