New To Co-Washing. . .
If you've just discovered the concept of co-washing (cleansing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo), it might be a little hard to get used to the idea of a conditioner being sufficient to cleanse your strands. Here are a few good reasons why it is – and why it can be more beneficial than shampoo.
You don't need bubbles to cleanse
Cleansing occurs when surfactants grab onto oils and dirt at one end, and water at the other end, and allow them to be rinsed away; not necessarily when bubbles form.
The idea that plenty of foam = good cleansing is an illusion, created to serve advertising purposes. With Sodium Laureth Sulfate a notable exception, many highly effective surfactants do not foam well and are used in shampoos for their cleansing power, alongside foam boosters to create lather.
That said, if you find you still can't function without foam, most conditioners can produce a soft, dense lather if you totally soak your hair, then massage both hair and scalp vigorously.
You can better manage your shrinkage
Curly hair tends to shrink a whole lot more when washed with shampoo. In contrast, when you wash with conditioner, it tends to weigh the hair down and smooth it out. If your shrinkage often results in increased tangling, then cleansing it with conditioner in place of shampoo most of the time (using your regular shampoo as a clarifier as needed) can greatly reduce tangles, and make the combout a lot less stressful.
Most conditioners already have built in cleansers
Rinse-out conditioners by definition must contain cleansing agents. Otherwise, it would be close to impossible to rinse them from your hair. Imagine applying a thick layer of hair grease to your hair and then rinsing it out with water alone and you'll get the picture.
The cleansing agents are called surfactants, just like the ones in shampoo. They have a head that is attracted to water and a tail that is attracted to oil, dirt, and most forms of product buildup.
The surfactant grabs the dirt with its tail, latches onto the water with its head, and then all three form a round blob called a micelle, and sail off your head together down into the drain, leaving it clean as a whistle and silky soft to boot.
Sometimes, conditioners are better at removing buildup than shampoos
Conditioners tend to contain cationic (with a positively-charged head) surfactants like cetrimonium bromide and nonionic (no charge to its head) surfactants like cetyl alcohol. Sometimes, the combination of the two is better equipped for removing oily buildup from your hair, say after a pretreatment with coconut or olive oil.
You can cleanse your hair more frequently
Using a shampoo once a week will be fine for most hair types, as far as moisture is concerned, especially if hair is always deep-conditioned afterwards. If you lead an active lifestyle, or just prefer a shorter wash cycle, you'll likely want to wash your hair more often than that.
However, using shampoo to cleanse your hair on a daily or every-other-day basis can soon prove drying, particularly on long, chemically-treated hair or naturally curly hair, all of which tend to be drier.
If you exercise regularly, lose moisture quickly, or just like the wash n' go way of life, then stretching the space between your shampoos, substituting them with conditioner, will allow you to wash as frequently as you need to, without risking so much dryness.
In addition, the "recovery period" many experience after a wash (the time their hair takes to "get back to normal" after washing) also tends to be considerably less after co-washing. All of these benefits come because washing with a conditioner is much more gentle, and of course, allows you to get some conditioning in as you cleanse.
The coolest thing about co-washing. . .
Treating your hair to a co-wash means you can cleanse without stripping, all while smoothing and detangling – conditioning – your hair at the same time. What's not to love? With the summer heat approaching, and alongside it, the need to cleanse and cool your scalp and tresses more often, now's the best time to try out this method if you haven't before.
|DioBurto Photography |Bill Gracey| Wikimedia Commons|Lululemon Athletica|
DHA Hair Care Experts