These days, the majority of my fellow curly haired friends are doing more co-washing than shampooing these days. Obviously, they have my full support. I'll do anything to keep the 'poo away from scalps that grow curls. To prove it, I've come up with four co-wash recipes you can easily make at home that will leave your scalp feeling clean and moisturized.
A co-wash is a way to cleanse and nourish your hair without shampoo. Some folks (including yours truly) find co-washing to be so effective on their curls they've completely abandoned traditional shampoo. According to sources at the Dominican Hair Alliance, an effective co-wash should leave your scalp feeling clean, hydrated, and moisturized whereas improper co-washing will give you quite the opposite results. With a co-wash, the goal is to simultaneously wash and condition your tresses. That means you don’t want to just smother your scalp in butters and oils and call it a day. You also want to gently remove any product build-up, so picking the right ingredients is crucial.
I won't get into why I think shampoo is the devil (yes, even "natural" brands can be murder on dense curls). Instead I've got some co-wash treats for anyone looking for a break from 'pooing on the reg or for co-washing machines that want new recipes.
But first! Let's talk about how to get the most out of your new cleansing conditioners.
Drench Your Hair
I make co-washes on the regular for customers with various curl types and they come with directions for a reason! Getting your hair nice and drenched is super important before using any co-wash because you need to rinse out any existing oils, product, dirt, etc. I usually rinse my hair with warm water for a full five minutes before starting the process.
How you detangle your hair really depends on how knotted the curls are. I recommend starting with your fingers and then judge if you can use a wide tooth comb while you're rinsing your hair with warm water especially if you have dense curls. Gently detangling before a co-wash will expose "hidden" sections of the scalp as well as free up strands to ensure that every part of your scalp and tresses can receive equal treatment.
Now let's get to the recipes.
1. Coconut & Oats Co-Wash
I've made this co-wash for type 2s and used it on my own type 4 hair. I almost think of it as more of a co-rinse because it's very light and nourishing. To start, heat two cups of coconut milk (always organic, always without additives) on a low flame stove-top and immediately add 1/3 cup of plain, organic oatmeal. Simmer for two to three minutes. Strain the oats from the coconut milk and discard (or save for a DIY face mask). Add a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil and stir vigorously. Apply on damp, reasonably detangled, locks. Leave on for five minutes and rinse.
2. Rosy Tea Co-Wash
This is my go-to co-wash and I use it every two weeks instead of shampooing. For me, this is really my "shampoo", but I wanted to include it because it is one of the best recipes I've used to get rid of oil build-up, cigarette smoke, pizza smells, and grime. First, bring two cup of water to boil and add two chamomile tea bags. Let steep for under a minute and discard tea bags. Transfer the tea to a quart sized container. Add 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add one cup of fresh rose water and stir well. Next, add four drops of lavender tea tree oil and four drops of rosemary essential oil. Stir again. Apply on damp locks for up to 10 minutes, then rinse well with warm water.
3. Oil Wash
This co-wash is great for dry scalps or for anyone not totally ready to give up the 'poo. Oil cleansing your hair is a great way to restore order in your curls before your next wash. Two great oils to work with are avocado oil and flaxseed oil; I love how avocado oil makes hair easier to detangle and the oil penetrate deeply into the shaft and scalp. Flaxseed oil seals in moisture like nobody's business and has more nutrition than your local coffee shop's breakfast cup. Trust. Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and rosemary essential oil which are both cleansing oils and mix well. Apply on soaking wet locks, focusing on the scalp and any problem areas.
4. Co-Wash Tea Zinger
This co-wash is great for all curls because it's balancing, hydrating, and cleansing. Bring one cup of water to a boil, add either a tablespoon of fresh hibiscus or use hibiscus tea bags. Let steep for two minutes. While the tea is steeping, add one tablespoon of raw honey and one tablespoon of coconut oil in a blender. Remove the hibiscus flowers from the water and transfer the "tea" to the blender. Blend together. The mixture should be cool enough to use, but test with your finger before applying to your hair. Using a blender will loosen the honey so it can maneuver through denser curls with ease. Apply on wet hair and let sit for five minutes. Rinse well.
After You Co-Wash...
Regardless of your co-wash, you should condition your tresses and/or apply a leave-in conditioner to to lock in moisture. Take your co-wash for what it is: a substitute for a shampoo. What would you normally do after you shampoo? Condition!
Image: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Fotolia; Kristin Collins Jackson (6)