What is Cowashing Curly Girl Method

Posted by Elizabeth Alex on

Do you wash your hair multiple times in the week? Instead of shampoo, try Cowashing! Here's why.

Is cowash better than shampoo? Cowashing moisturizes curls while cleaning it gently. This is a great alternative to using shampoo multiple times during the week. If you workout, travel, or just prefer to wash hair frequently then cowashing is better than shampoo.

Can you co wash with any conditioner? No, please don't. Always use cowash-conditioner that is meant for cowashing. Recommendations below.

But why Liz? I see Facebook groups suggesting otherwise. Listen to them then! No really, hair products meant for cowashing have "cleansing agents" like Coco Betaine or  Behentrimonium Methosulfate while regular "rinse-out" conditioners do not. Besides,  regular conditioners have large molecules formulated to "coat" your hair for conditioning function.

Wikipedia says "Their molecules have a tendency to crystallize easily to form a lamellar structure, giving the conditioner higher viscosity, and they tend to form thicker layers on the hair surface." So just imagine "coating" your scalp with thick goop. This goop will not let your scalp breathe. Such suffocation when not cleansed frequently leads to scalp issues, and possibly hair loss eventually! 

How often should you co wash? I cowash between my shampoo days. It could be two cowashes or one depending on how dry my hair feels. To maintain the moisture quotient in my hair I cowash atleast once in between two shampoos. Too much shampoo dries out my hair. 

Can I deep condition after cowashing? I usually do not but you can if your hair needs that extra moisture on that day. One exception is cowashing+deep conditioning after my Olaplex treatments! Otherwise I do not. 

Can I use cowash as a leave-in conditioner? NO. The cleansing agents may dry your hair out. Easy way to remember: Leave-in-conditioners are meant to be "left in". Cowash-conditioners is meant to be "washed out". 

Can you remove oil with cowashing? Depends on how much oil you apply. If you drench your hair for a hot oil treatment  ("champi") then no. Use a clarifying shampoo to remove the grease out.  Me? I cowash on lazy days when I don't have time to prepoo or even deep condition my hair. Mid-week Quickie, ill say :)

OK, now concentrate! This is the juice

This is the best cowashing tutorial I've seen in my three years of CG journey. Athena is a natural teacher and I am so grateful for her tutorials! 

My Pro Tips! 

Do it when you feel like: I cowash once or twice between shampoo depending on how my hair is behaving or what it needs. If hair needs moisture I will cowash instead of shampoo. Don't worry you will also learn, with practice. 

Take out what you put in: Like a carpet that needs vacuuming, if you cowash, you also need to clarify your hair. Cowashing is super moisture and piling on moisture over moisture leads to buildup.

Easy DIYs like ACV Rinse every 10 days OR Bentonite Clay every two weeks help me. Clarifying helps you prevent buildup and scalp issues that result in hair loss!! More on my fav products for clarifying later. Let's focus!

Don't have cowash? Make one! Here's a homemade cowash inspired by @CurlyandKind I use her recipe except, instead of using lime juice, I use my edible food grade Vitamin C powder for extra shine and clarifying effects. Also, instead of using a regular conditioner, I blend overripe bananas with honey. I do not use regular conditioner on my scalp. I won't recommend you either. 


Another homemade cowash is to use coconut milk + oats! 

  • Get 2 cups of coconut milk in a pot
  • Add 1/3rd cup rolled oats
  • Simmer together for 3 minutes
  • Strain, cool, cowash! 

This homemade cowash is only for those desperate days when my curly hair just feels helpless. it's super rich so I don't recommend using it each time but use your discretion. Remember to always use organic ingredients and repurpose the strained oats for face mask later :) 

Can I use regular conditioner to cowash? - NO DON'T! Wait but if you really don't have a choice at least don't rub regular conditioner on your scalp. Healthy scalps may get away with it. These are the folks who will recommend you do it too. But what if you have a sensitive scalp? 

Does cowashing cause hairloss? Cowashing with the wrong product may lead to hair loss. Make sure your cowash has "cleansing agents" like Coco Betaine or  Behentrimonium Methosulfate. Also note where in the ingredient list these are listed. Higher listing means higher concentration. Mid listing is medium, and lower is low concentration of course. Use your discretion! 

How to Cowash Curly Hair 

According to the founder Curly Girl Method, Lorraine Massey. You will find this chronicled in her book, The Curly Girl Handbook also: 
  • Let water gently pour over your hair. If you prefer to bathe, then gently pour water over your hair. Do this WITHOUT violating your hair - like when we woosh-and-swish the hair all over the place. NO. Stop that. Be still so the water falls in the natural direction of the curls.  
  • Get your cowash conditioner on your fingertips.
  • Massage your scalp to stimulate first. Be careful not to disturb the curls, just focus on the scalp.
  • Massage some cowash conditoner in your hair now. Coat the outer layer- the top layer of your hair. Get all your hair to one side and then gently run your fingers through your hair to detangle.
  • Use a Brush at this point helps in better product distribution - just don't brush your scalp.
  • WORK with your conditioner, I explain more on this technique here. Rinse out! 

      Do you condition after cowashing? I do! Only because I "Squish to condish" for extra definition. Video tutorial here. 

      How to STC? Stand close to a tap, fill your palms with water and gently scrunch your hair with the water. This squishing technique makes sure the water and product go into the hair cuticles. Anjana, @curlsandbeautydiary explains this step beautifully in her article here.

      Best Cowash for Curly Hair

      If you were looking to incorporate a cowash in your regime, here are a few options. There are many cowashes popular on Instagram and I welcome you try them if your heart is set on anything. Just make sure they are clean. Run the ingredients on IsItCg.com to confirm safety before purchase. And if it still doesn't work then please come back to try any of these from my list! 

      My Soigné Hair Cleanser (protein-free) is my go-to cowash ONLY because they are not heavy or greasy like other cowashes I tried. It leaves my hair feeling clean, yet moisturised and also shiny. Plus, it's made by small businesswoman which I always support over big corporations. (Use Code: HONESTLIZ for discount!


      Shop Best Cowash in India here!

      Remember that any change you bring to your routine will usually take a while before your hair starts to accept it. You can Shampoo -Cowash -Shampoo OR Shampoo -Cowash-Cowash -Shampoo. Try and see what routine works best for you depending on how your hair responds.

      Thank you for watching & reading!

      Need Help? Ask Liz here


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