The natural curly texture of ethnic hair makes it supremely important to care for this hair type properly. Whether your hair is natural or relaxed, it may be delicate and it may be dry, which means it requires lots of TLC! One solution that strikes a perfect balance for many women with ethnic hair? Co-wash with a cleansing conditioner!
3. What Are The Best Hair Types For A Cleansing Conditioner?
Co-washing isn’t for everyone, but it may be right for your curly or relaxed hair. Co-washing is great for keeping your hair moisturized without stripping the natural oils. If you use a cleansing conditioner on your hair, you can wash it more frequently than you may when washing with shampoo, because co-washing is gentler than using harsh detergents. Co-washing can be a part of your weekly hair care routine, and some people with ethnic hair co-wash several times a week. Cleansing conditioners soften your hair and will help keep your scalp moisturized, a benefit for anyone with persistent dry hair and a dry scalp. Co-washing may also help your color last longer since you are not stripping it out with shampoo. And if you tend to use a lot of heat to straighten your curly hair, cleansing conditioners are gentler than shampoo when hair is exposed to thermal tools on a frequent basis. Avoid co-washing if your hair is weak or over-processed. That’s because these formulas soften the hair, which could weaken curls that are already thinning or highly damaged. Skip it if your hair is extremely oily and check with your dermatologist if you have scalp issues like dandruff, dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema.
4. How Often & When To Co-Wash African American Hair
Your personal co-washing routine will be a case of developing customized system for your hair:
• You may want to maintain your regular shampooing schedule (once a week, twice a week,) and use a cleansing conditioner on the “off” days.
• You may want to replace your normal shampooing with co-washing. Remember, though, if you have curly hair, the processes of wetting, towel-drying and styling your hair can be disruptive regardless of what type of cleansing formula you use, so keep that in mind when deciding how often to co-wash.
• Many co-washers feel it's important to shampoo with a conventional shampoo from time to time, in order to remove product build-up.
• If you still find that your hair is dry, you may want to include a deep-conditioner in your regular routine.
• Many ethnic hair types--especially those that are chemically processed with relaxers or straighteners--are protein-depleted, so regular protein treatments (every six to eight weeks for heavy treatments; every one or two weeks for light treatments) are still recommended.
• Finally, if you find your hair becoming too soft, oily or "moisture-overloaded," reduce the frequency of your co-washing.
5. How To Co-Wash African American Hair
When using a cleansing conditioner on curly hair, saturate and detangle your hair and divide your head into four-to-six sections. Place the co-wash formula on the tips of your fingers and work it into the scalp area of the first section. Massage thoroughly into the scalp and then work the product through the midlengths and ends. Complete the remaining sections, rinse and style as usual. The technique is nearly similar for relaxed hair. Start by saturating your hair in the shower. Then apply the cleansing conditioner to your scalp and gently massage for about 3 to 5 minutes, focusing on the new growth. Proceed with your shower, detangle with a wide-tooth comb, rinse with lukewarm water and style.
6. How To Identify A Good Cleansing Conditioner
Ideally, co-wash formulas should be “free from”—free from sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate) and soaps that remove impurities harshly; free from parabens, which are preservatives that many people prefer to avoid; free from heavy petrolatum or mineral oils and free from silicones that can sit on the surface of the hair and cause build-ups.
Some women with ethnic hair co-wash with conventional conditioners. There are also formulas specifically designed for co-washing. Some of these co-wash products combine a “no-poo” cleansing agent with a heavy conditioner that sit on the hair and then gradually penetrate. These formulas must then be rinsed thoroughly, and over time, they might cause an undesirable build-up. More modern cleansing conditioner formulas feature a unique, tandem approach of cleansing and conditioning—they melt into the hair and quickly draw out impurities without causing weighty build-ups. They’re also targeted for specific hair types—so if your hair is curly, there’s an option for you! Also, look for healthful additives like anti-oxidant fruit complexes that protect hair from damage.