How to co-wash 4c hair

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Today I’m back with a topic that I just learned about myself. As you already know, this website was inspired by my own 4c hair journey. Since I did the big chop in February 2020 I have been obsessed with figuring out how to grow my natural hair

So, whenever I learn something new – guess what – I share it with y’all. And today I want to discuss co-washing 4c hair.

Do you believe that I did not know about co-washing until recently? All my mother taught me was to wash my hair as rarely as possible and when I do to use shampoo. LOL.

So you can imagine how excited and frustrated I was when I heard about this option. But before we get to how to co-wash 4c hair, let’s discuss why you should co-wash natural hair?

What is co-washing? 

Co-washing refers to the act of washing your natural hair with conditioner only. Instead of using shampoos, which include sulfates and parabens that strip natural hair of its oils and moisture, you simply use a conditioner.

This helps you to avoid dryness and breakage and allows your hair to maintain its natural moisture levels which increases growth and strength.

How to co-wash natural hair

When you co-wash your natural hair, you use your conditioner as a shampoo. You should scrub it into your scalp to remove any dirt or residue from hair products and proceed to finger-detangle your hair. 

To co-wash your hair, you can use a regular conditioner or a co-wash product, which is a cleansing conditioner. It is much milder than a regular shampoo but stronger than a regular shampoo. 

While a co-wash still leans more onto the conditioner-side and moisturizes, detangles, and strengthens your hair, it also gently cleanses and removes product buildup. Giving your hair a soft and clean look and feel. 

Besides, the great thing about a co-wash is that it cleanses and conditions your hair in one step which is a great time-saver for all of us natural hair babes that are used to spending hours in the bathroom.

best co wash for 4c hair

Step-by-step guide on how to co-wash 4c hair

  1. Apply co-wash/ conditioner to wet hair
  2. Be sure to scrub your scalp thoroughly
  3. Rinse out the co-wash/ conditioner 
  4. Apply a second round of co-wash/ conditioner to your hair
  5. Massage it into your hair strands (start with the ends and work your way up)
  6. Rinse out your hair completely
  7. Apply a leave-in conditioner to prevent dryness

How often should you co-wash natural hair

When it comes to my 4c hair routine, I have opted to co-wash my natural hair every other week. It alternates between regular hair wash weeks and co-wash weeks. This helps me to keep my hair clean as well as healthy and hydrated.

Of course, you can go longer without co-washing your hair, as long as you moisturize it regularly. However, co-washing your hair is not a substitute for washing your hair entirely. 

You will still need to plan bi-weekly or monthly wash days to clean your hair thoroughly. 

This is especially true when you use a lot of styling products that include buildable ingredients, such as petroleum, silicone, and mineral oils.

Whenever you use products containing these ingredients you will need to wash your hair to give it the necessary moisture and nourishment that it needs.

To sum it up, you merely want to use a co-wash when your hair only needs a gentle cleanse and is not that dirty. 

Co-washing benefits

how often should you co wash natural hair

As mentioned above, co-washing is much milder on your 4c hair and leaves it smoother and shinier than washing it with shampoo. 

This is since co-washing your hair keeps it from being exposed to cleansing detergents that usually strip your hair of its natural oils. It improves the health and vitality of your scalp and hair and restores its natural shine and body.

Another benefit of co-washing your 4c hair is that it helps reduce shrinkage and increases length retention because it keeps brittleness and breakage at minimum. 

Co-wash products

Now, here is where a lot of confusion comes in for me. Do you have to use a co-washing product or can you simply utilize a conditioner of your choice?

The answer is: It’s up to you.

If you decide to stick to using a regular conditioner, you want to make sure that it includes 

Natural cleansing ingredients, such as peppermint, lavender, or even apple cider vinegar in its mixture. 

This will ensure that your conditioner can rinse away any impurities while deeply moisturizing and detangling your natural hair. 

Should you decide to use a co-wash product on the other hand, then the following list will help you choose a good one.

All three of these products are great cleansing conditioners, that promote healthy hair growth and retain moisture until your next cleanse. 

When not to co-wash natural hair

While co-washing offers a lot of benefits for most 4c hair Naturalistas, it is not for everybody. 

If you have a finer hair texture, then co-washing may not be the best option for you, because your hair is more prone to build-up. 

Therefore, a co-wash alone will not cleanse your hair properly and only layer more product on your scalp, which can clog up your hair follicles and therefore stunt your natural hair growth.

You also don’t want to co-wash your hair if you use a lot of styling products to create 4c hairstyles, because you will not get the best results. To get the best definition out of your curls and coils, the styling products need to be applied to a clean scalp and hair. If not, the product won’t interact properly with your hair and look a hot mess. 

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