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Conditioner-only washing, or "co-washing," can keep natural waves and curls soft and moisturized. Using conditioner, rather than shampoo, can remove dirt and product buildup without drying out curly tresses. Depending upon your hair, you may want to skip the shampoo altogether or just co-wash some of the time. The right conditioner can keep you hair healthy, whether you conditioner-only wash after workouts or every day.
A Co-Washing How-To
Co-washing isn't much different from shampooing your hair. Soak your locks with warm water, rather than hot. Work conditioner through your hair, section by section, from the roots to the ends. You won't see lather, but you can remove sweat, dirt and product from your hair. Rinse well. If your tresses are chemically treated or extra dry, follow up your co-wash with your favorite leave-in conditioning treatment.
When you're shopping for a conditioner for co-washing, choose a product that is silicone-free or that contains only water-soluble silicones. Some types of silicone may not rinse from the hair completely, leading to buildup. Look for products that contain PEG-modified dimethicone, PEG-8 dimethicone, Dimethicone copolyol, or Lauryl methicone copolyol, rather than other forms of silicone, if you do opt for a product that contains hair-smoothing silicone.
Chris-Tia Donaldson, author of "Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair," recommends several affordable and accessible products. Suave Tropical Coconut Conditioner detangles and softens your curls if they're not too dry. If you battle extra-dry hair, Donaldson recommends Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair Conditioner. You'll find both of these products at the drugstore or discount store.
If you're prepared to splurge on your locks, you can invest in a salon conditioner, rather than a drugstore product. Dolce Jolie, a supplier of hair extensions, recommends the Chi Curl Preserve or Joico Hydration conditioners for co-washing. Knockoff products are available from your local beauty supply if you co-wash daily and need a less-expensive solution.