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Here’s What Happened When I Tried Co-washing


Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly column, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss

As someone that used to shampoo their hair every single morning, I am a testament for the damage it has done to my hair & scalp health! Not only was my color fading at astronomically high speeds, I also noticed my hair looked lifeless and dry. I immediately made the switch to sulfate-free shampoos, but the girls at the kaia naturals HQ told me I had to try co-washing.

Co-washing was a game-changer for girls in our office who had noticed dry, brittle strands. I could not fathom the thought of not shampoo-ing (that’s how addicted I was), but they promised me it was much easier to get use to… and they were right.

co-washing - kaia naturals

But first, what is co-washing?

It simply means conditioner-washing. You wash your hair without shampoo, rinsing your scalp and roots thoroughly with water only, and then applying conditioner to the ends.

How will co-washing help?

Frequent shampooing with harsh sulfate and detergents can strip your hair of its natural oils, causing dry scalp and hair. This dryness sends a signal to the hair to create more natural oils to protect itself, in turn creating oily hair much faster. By skipping the shampoo you will train your hair to produce only the amount of oil it needs to keep hair healthy.  By rinsing your hair with water and conditioner , your hair will feel clean but not squeaky clean like with shampoo. Unshampooed hair will retain more of its natural oils and the conditioner will help leave your ends smoother, softer and easier to manage.

Train your hair to need less shampoo

If you’re trying to shampoo less, co-washing is the perfect way to prolong the days in between shampoos. This helped me detox from shampoo, as I loved that I was still able to wet my hair in the shower. I thought my hair would feel dirty and greasy, but I didn’t notice much of a difference in terms of hair odor or oiliness. I did however notice how soft my hair was just after the first co-wash. Click here to read our guide to washing your hair less. 

co-washing - kaia naturals

Mary’s 5 Day Hair Cycle

It’s been about 6 months since I started co-washing and the best part about incorporating this into my routine, is that it has also helped gradually train my hair to need less shampoo. Here’s what I do now on a weekly basis. My best tip is start off slow!

Day 1: Shampoo and condition as normal

Day 2: During the first few months, I was itching to wash my hair again in the morning, so I simply rinsed my hair and scalp with water, no conditioner or shampoo. As my scalp got used to the transition, I’m now able to skip wetting my hair all together on Day 2. Struggling with day 2 hair? Click here.

Day 3: Co-wash

Day 4: Dry Shampoo

Day 5: Shampoo and condition. Cycle restarts again.

From shampooing every single day to now shampooing only about twice a week, I can already see the changes in my hair and my color doesn’t fade as quickly. My hairstylist has also noticed a huge difference. Click here to read more ways to prolong your hair colour. 

Before you start co-washing, read this first:

Tip #1: Avoid silicones in your conditioner

Avoid silicones, such as dimethicone, in the conditioner you’re using for co-washing.  Silicones give your hair that smooth feeling, however if it can cause build up and weigh down your hair.

Tip #2: Don’t use dry shampoo before a co-wash

Co-wash only when you have not used dry shampoo or other hair products near the roots. If you’ve used dry shampoo, you need to shampoo it out in order to prevent product build-up on your hair follicles. This also may cause pimple-like bumps on your scalp.

Tip #3: Avoid conditioner at your roots

Especially if you have fine hair like me, avoid using conditioner anywhere near your roots. Only use at the ends or you’ll end up with greasy, flat hair.

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