Have curly hair, and like to wear your hair natural? Then you may want to start co-washing for healthy, hydrated hair. Co-washing, short for conditioner washing, is the process of washing your hair with only conditioner and skipping the shampoo. According to bath and body retailer Lush, you may want to try co-washing “if your hair is afro, mixed-textured, very curly or extremely dry.” If that’s you, and you’re interested, give it a try — your hair may look like new.

Ironically, the first mistake you might make when you try co-washing is using a normal conditioner. That might confuse you — the idea that using a conditioner to conditioner-wash your hair being a mistake — but there are products specially designed for co-washing. 

“Using a conditioner to co-wash instead of an actual co-wash is one of the biggest mistakes naturals make,” Faith Huffnagle, education director at haircare brand Prose, explained to Byrdie. “Co-washing will cleanse the scalp in a way that conditioner cannot on its own, as long as you focus your fingertips [on massaging] the scalp and [rinsing] thoroughly.”

More co-wash tips to keep in mind

Be sure not to skimp on your co-wash; you want a good lather. Miko Branch, creative director of hair-care line Miss Jessie’s, explains to Real Simple, “You need to use enough to coat strands from root to tip.” If you have especially thick or long hair, it may take a lot of product. That’s normal.

You could also run into issues if you’re using the wrong product for your hair type, if you’re not rinsing the co-wash out completely, or if you’re not spending enough time working the co-wash through your scalp. 

Finally, yes the point of a co-wash is to take harmful shampoos out of your hair-care routine, but you’ll still want to use a clarifying sulfate-free shampoo (via Cosmopolitan) anywhere between once a week and once every four weeks (see what works best for you) to remove the buildup. So try out some different co-washes, experiment with different clarifying routines, and get ready for shinier, healthier curls.

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