Co-Wash vs Shampoo

So, it’s time to throw down the gauntlet… and get to the bottom of the “to-shampoo-or-not-to-shampoo” debate. Okay, maybe not exactly, but I do want to hear your feedback. Some naturals swear by conditioner washing, and using shampoo infrequently while others swear by regular shampooing.

So, I’m taking it to you, ladies, do you primarily co-wash? Or do you use shampoo? Why or why not? Did you switch from one method to another and see a difference? I’m dying to hear these answers!

Do you co-wash or shampoo your hair?

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...


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50 thoughts on “Co-Wash vs Shampoo

  1. I shampoo on average, every 4 days. I do condition afterwards, but I cannot just co-wash. It still feels dirty afterward and does not “lay” right.

  2. I finally figured out my routine… and it involves shampoo… well, not your traditional shampoo. For my type 4 hair I use Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo once a week. I have evil scalp. Evil itchy,flaky, just evil scalp. So, I MUST shampoo it and get it all off. Then, I follow up with a acv rinse, and then my leave-in (Knot Today) and seal (coconut oil). I also realized that I need to co-wash in the middle of the week and I use Tresemme naturals for that. Evil scalp is MEAN!! But I deep condition weekly using the ghetto steam method and man, I think I got it!

  3. These days, neither. I haven’t used shampoo in months, but I don’t co-wash either. Instead I clean my hair and scalp with vinegar (preferably ACV, but malt vinegar works okay too). My hair’s in good shape, and my scalp is flake-free and itch-free, much better than when I used to shampoo.

  4. I shampoo my hair about twice a week. I co-washed every few days when my hair was shorter, but now that it’s longer co-washing just doesn’t get it clean enough.

  5. Maybe it’s just because I’m still in the TWA phase (I BC’d 2 1/2 months ago), but I cowash my hair either everyday or every other day. It just leaves my hair so nice and moisturized and soft. Plus my hair seems to be growing well so I figure it doesn’t hurt. I usually shampoo my hair once a week out of habit and because my conditioner has a cone in it, but I went two weeks without shampooing and my hair and scalp were perfectly fine. I guess it just depends on the person and what stage they’re at in their hair journey.

  6. I normally shampoo at the weekend and co-wash midweek, but every now and then I will have an extra co-wash during the week. I selected ‘both equally’ because I think it best describes me.
    I got a selection of shampoo bars from Chagrin Valley though and I’m going to have to sit on my hands to stop myself doing extra shampoos! I like the bars so far!
    Also, starting tomorrow, I’m going to incorporate ayurvedic tea rinses (with shikakai and aritha – cleansing, and amla and brahmi – conditioning) every few weeks. Got the idea from youtube’s NappyNFree.

    • Hey, Jo Somebody! Thanks for the shout out! I like using the tea rinses when wearing yarn twists. Since I don’t use a lot of product on my hair while in the yarn, I feel it really gets my hair clean.

      I just started adding a tablespoon of ACV to my tea and I *think* I like it. I plan on doing another Ayurvedic tea YouTube video soon.

  7. I co wash. I have shampooed twice in the last 6 months due to curiosity, though. Shampoo irritates my EXTREMELY sensitive scalp. I also find it odd that people shampoo and then devote so much time to restoring moisture. For my medium-fine hair, a mix of EVOO/conditioner/water/ACV helps me detangle and break up dirt and dead skin. After I rinse that out, another application of conditioner lifts any extra residue. The result, soft, shiny, manageable hair whose natural oils were never stripped, but augmented and cleaned by the treatment.

  8. ive been sulfate free for over two years now and stopped relaxing around the same time. didnt start trying to co-wash until i cut my relaxed ends off (aug 10), but it left my hair feeling disgusting, i endured weeks of my hair looking and feeling gross before realising it wasnt for everyone. now i used a natural shampoo bar and lightly condition with steeped marshmallow root because my hair gets over-moisturised easily, and its been working well, no breakage and my curls feel bouncy instead of limp and floppy!


    I co-wash all the time bc I rinse with the acv first. You may dilute it with water and once you put your conditioner on it and deep condition the smell goes away.
    The acv leaves my hair feeling light and fluffy:) that’s the best way I can describe it…
    And it is clean. No build up. Plus the ph balance helps the scalp and hair.

    I love BGLH!

  10. I tried co-washing and it was NOT for me. My scalp suffered the most. I only tried it one time and that was all I needed.

    I shampoo my hair in sections and that allows me to cleanse my scalp and my hair really well. It also helps with the detangling process too!

  11. I went through a phase where I cowashed alot and it didnt really work out for me. I prefer shampooing most times because my scalp gets itchy if I wait too long to do it. I usually shampoo every 4-11 days depending on how my hair and scalp feels and how busy I am. I might cowash in-between if I feel like it or have the time, but frequent shampooing is a must.

  12. I actually used to shampoo every week, until I colored for the 4th time, then I noticed my hair was always dry, and actually started breaking. So now I just clarify once a month and co-wash at least twice a week and my hair has gotten better.

  13. I’ve been transitioning for 11 months now and I’m still having trouble deciding wether to co-wash or not. For a few months now I’ve been co-washing but that left my scalp (as well as the rest of my hair) coated with gunk and I walked OUT of the shower with my hair sticky. Not a good sign. I might have just been using a too-heavy conditioner but i’m having second thoughts about co-washing. And when I DO shampoo (I use a chagrin valley bar then do a ACV rinse), my hair feels dry and kinda thinner! What do I do?? Sorry for the short book I wrote but ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated! :)

  14. i tried co-washing and my scalp did not agree all. my head never itched so bad in all my life. to me its like rubbing lotion on your body without showering, it just feels so wrong lol. And i cant do sulfate-free because they tend to strip my hair more than sulfates which defeats the purpose of buying it. I’ve been natural for a year now and im finding that the simpler i keep my regiment the better. All i need is a good and cheap shampoo, conditioner, leave-in, & sealant and im straight.

  15. I just did my BC a few days ago…so I’m new to the game. The day I did my BC, I got a wash, scalp treatment (I don’t think she knew what she was doing) & conditioner. My scalp was itching before I went to bed that night. I have always had issues with dry scalp & have been co-washing daily since my BC & my scalp still itches. Someone please HELP! I don’t know what I should do.

  16. Ive reintroduced shampoo with black soap and more often. I notice how much shiny my silver my streaks are. Had been cowashin for 4 wks and poo-ing once a month. I know now that my hair and scalp needs more shampooing..thank God 4 this learning hair journey!

  17. I just started on a natural hair journey 3 weeks ago. My hair is very dry and very coarse. I have only washed my hair with a co- wash since my journey and found out it dose not strip and dry out my hair like shampoo did. I have read that sulfate is not good for your hair, so I thinking of buying a shampoo without sulfate and use it once a month.

  18. Is it bad to shampoo and co-wash right? A few minutes apart?
    I work out everyday and co-wash alone isn’t a daily option.
    I wash my hair once a week.

  19. Hi, I find that washing our 4c or what ever type of hair we have to much can lead to dryness. See we do not have to wash as often as folks who have natrually oily hair. If we was once or twice a month it will be just fine. Leave some of the gunk in wear protective styles for a while if you think your hair is to gunky to wear out. On the real though, see how much healthier your 4 what ever hair gets and feels w/o all the washing..
    God bless and good luck all you natrual beauties :-)

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