What is co-washing? You’ve probably heard of it. You might even be doing it at home. Or, you might be a newbie to curl care and haven’t heard of it. No matter if you have never heard of it, or have already incorporated it into your routine, we need to talk.

We often reach out to our curly community to engage and chat with you. It’s our passion to help you with your curls! One of the ways we do this is through the familiar Instagram insta-story ”ask us anything” sticker. This is like a Q&A session- the follower asks a question and our curl experts answer. Maybe you even interacted with our curl experts here!

Instagram ask us anything

Recently, we had a interesting question from a follower as to why we don’t advocate the CGM (Curly Girl Method) co-washing technique.

It was such a good question that we wanted to share our answer, more in depth, with everyone in a blog post.

The Kozma Curl Method vs CGM

Before we get started, we need to clarify that we do offer “CGM-friendly” products to the world, meaning that our products are silicone free and sulfate free and don’t contain any nasty harsh chemicals or ingredients.

However, we don’t follow the CGM method in our salons. While we may share a few similarities with CGM, there are quite a few things that set us apart. The Kozma Curl Method (KCM for short) has it’s own unique, innovative and wonderful way of cutting, coloring, styling and caring for curly hair that we developed ourselves for our curly community. Our expertise dates back to 2007 and the Kozma Curl Method is a collection of our knowledge and experience over the years. We are very proud of the results we achieve with our method, and we are so grateful to be able to share it with all of you!

One of the many things that sets us apart from CGM, is our opinion to avoid co-washing. We simply don’t think co-washing is good for scalp health. More on that, in a bit.

Beautiful curls start from the scalp

Today we are going to talk about a less exciting and under-discussed topic in the curly world – scalp care. Perhaps a bit less glam than the topic of curly hair itself, but don’t forget that your scalp is where it all starts. So in order to have beautiful curls, you’ll need to start with a healthy scalp, as a foundation. Thus, the reason for our focus on this co-washing topic today.

I got 99 problems, but Co-washing ain’t one

There are plenty of methods out there for curly hair. Whichever you choose to follow is just a matter of experimentation, and personal preference. Is there a right and a wrong? No! Absolutely not. If you are happy with your current regimen, then stick with it! If not, you’ll just need to try a few until you find what works for YOU. Some people even take a few methods, fuse them together into a hybrid. That’s ok too! Again, it’s whatever makes you and your curls happy! At Kozma Curl, we use, teach, and highly recommend the #kozmacurlmethod .

Cleanse your curls with Kozma Curl sulfate free shampoo

However, there are some techniques that have become hugely popular in the world-wide curly hair community over the last few years. Co-washing is one of them. Co-washing can be good IF DONE CORRECTLY IN MODERATION, but overdoing is where the problems start to arise. Sounds confusing? It might sound like a confusing contradiction, when we say it’s best to avoid it and yet we also say you can do it. We will do our best to explain what we mean. Our growing concern is that the majority of curly women who co-wash are doing the co-wash thing in a way that can cause them issues. This is what we hope to address, so that you can be aware and avoid these problems.

To ‘poo or not to ‘poo.

That is the question. (shampoo that is! LOL, ladies if you read that any other way get your mind out of the gutter!)

If you are new to curly hair care, we will explain what co-washing really is: a acronym for Conditioner Washing. It is well known through the CGM (curly girl method) which encourages you to cleanse/hydrate the scalp/curls using ONLY conditioner or a product conditioner wash and rarely or never use shampoo. It means you ditch your shampoo entirely and wash your scalp only with conditioner. While the co-washing technique has accrued a loyal fan base, recent reports are showing that using conditioner to clean is equal to using a lotion on your scalp and overtime, this just becomes impacted into the hair follicle which can cause serious problems for some people. Scalp irritation and hair loss is a common issue with curly women worldwide who follow strict co-wash only methods.

Now don’t get us wrong, co-washing CAN have an occasional time and a place…. but to never use shampoo? No. That is where we cannot agree. We encourage you to cleanse your scalp with shampoo at least once a week using a sulfate free cleanser.

If you are already a co-wash addict, don’t stop reading! Why not try doing it a bit less, in moderation?

In life, moderation is key. Like, with chocolate, cheese and coffee… and co-washing!

To be clear, we aren’t entirely against co-washing, but what we want you to try and avoid doing is co-washing back to back. Instead, do it only occasionally. Throughout the week if you feel the need to wash your hair again after already doing your weekly sulfate free cleanse, your co-wash will be in-between your shampoo’s, so that means you’d be alternating between cleanses with a sulfate free shampoo, and a co-wash. For example:
Week 1 – Cleanse with Sulfate Free Shampoo, Week 1 refresh co-wash
Week 2 – Cleanse with Sulfate Free Shampoo
Week 3 – Cleanse with Sulfate free Shampoo, Week 3 refresh with co-wash
Week 4 – Cleanse with Sulfate Free Shampoo
Week 5 – Cleanse with Sulfate Free Shampoo
Do you see what we mean by ”occasional co-wash”?

what is co-washing

Curl Care starts with a healthy scalp.

Curl care without the shampoo is like… The sky without blue. Coffee without brew. Panda without bamboo. A paddle with no canoe. Rainbow without hue. Foot and no shoe. Cow without moo. Bruce Lee minus Kung fu. A sneeze with no achoo. Me without you. You get the point. It’s kinda important.

Choose a gentle, light, sulfate free shampoo for cleansing.

Inappropriate amounts of co-washing can cause various scalp issues including:

  • Itchy, sensitive, irritated scalp (this is the number one complaint)
  • Burning sensation in the scalp
  • Hair loss
  • Flaky scalp / dandruff
  • Tight, dry feeling in the scalp
  • Conditioner product + sweat + natural oils build up which block the follicle and can also promote bacteria and fungus
  • Rashes
  • Greasy, oily roots
  • Dirty hair strands coated with product build up (which attracts dirt like a magnet)
  • Over moisturized curls (limp and dull)
  • Can worsen existing scalp issues
  • Clogged up and inflamed hair follicles, leading to Folliculitis

Top tips for a healthy scalp.

  1. Use a sulfate free shampoo on wash day. You don’t necessarily need a shampoo that lathers a lot to get a good clean, but a good lather does feel much more luxurious and fresh!
  2. If you must co-wash, alternate your wash days between a shampoo and a co-wash. Avoid co-washing sessions back to back.
  3. Don’t go too long between washes. We are all for stretching out time between wash day (hey we get it! curl detangling, hydrating and styling – not to mention drying time – can be hard work!!) but going too long between washes can irritate the scalp and promote build up and irritation. Try not to go over a week without washing.
  4. Give your scalp a good scrub when cleansing. This helps dislodge dirt, oil, sweat and buildup from the scalp.
  5. Rinse very well. Don’t forget to take time to rinse all the nooks and crannies, paying special attention to rinsing behind the ears where shampoo can get caught.
  6. Leaving some conditioner on the hair is ok (depending on the type of conditioner) – leaving conditioner on the scalp is never ok. Always rinse all the conditioner off your scalp, even if you intend on leaving it throughout the hair.
  7. Avoid silicones. These can build up on the scalp as well from styling, and block your follicles. Hillary Kozma, the founder of Kozma Curl Products speaks about the importance of quality product ingredients, and why it’s so important to avoid sulfates, silicones and parabens in a recent interview with Vogue Magazine.
  8. If you feel like you need a wash, listen to your scalp and wash. Just don’t forget to follow with a generous amount of conditioner to rehydrate!
  9. Do Pre-poo on wash day. This means you prep your curls to be protected during the wash. Before shampooing, use conditioner through your mid-length to ends. To do this, pull hair into a low pony tail and work conditioner in, avoiding the scalp area. Don’t rinse. Next, shampoo scalp. Then rinse it all. Repeat this process if needed. Scalp gets cleansed, curls get protected, happy days.
  10. If you already found your ride or die conditioner, that’s great. If you are searching for one, we have the conditioner your curls have been craving.
  11. Don’t forget frequent massages to stimulate blood flow to the scalp. Blood flow brings along nutrients to feed the follicles.
  12. Speaking of nutrients, a diet rich in good fats such as salmon, almonds, avocado will help to feed your hair what it needs to grow healthy and beautiful. Hair goals!
  13. Protect your scalp from the sun. Wear a hat when outdoors.
  14. Avoid extremely tight styles. Tight ponies, buns and braids can all cause traction hair loss. When the follicle’s on the scalp are pulled or forced into a tight position, alopecia can result. This is commonly seen around the hairline where hair is weakest.

You deserve a healthy scalp, and your curls depend on it.

And there you have it folks. That’s our opinion on co-washing. Hope this was helpful and the takeaway lesson is the importance of a good, healthy scalp. You and your curls deserve nothing less!

Let us know what you think!

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