Via The Beau­ty Brains

Ille­gal fire­works asks…I have real­ly dry curly hair. Will it dam­age my hair if I con­di­tion it every­day?

The answer depends on HOW you con­di­tion your hair. Rinse out con­di­tion­ers are the worst – not because the con­di­tion­er itself does any dam­age but because of the process­es of wash­ing,  rins­ing and dry­ing.

Three ways con­di­tion­ing is bad:

First, if you used any sham­poo pri­or to con­di­tion­ing you may be strip­ping your hair of mois­tur­iz­ing oils.

Sec­ond, just wet­ting and dry­ing your hair (even with­out sham­poo) caus­es the cuti­cle to expand and con­tract which can be weak­en­ing because it cre­ates radi­al cracks in the out­er cuti­cle lay­ers.

Third, tow­el dry­ing your hair always involves some degree of fric­tion­al abra­sion that can crack and scrape off even more cuti­cle.

Leave in con­di­tion­ers can be less dam­ag­ing

If you’re not wash­ing and wet­ting your hair, leave in con­di­tion­ers are just fine. At most they require just a lit­tle comb­ing to smooth them through your hair.

If you’re wash­ing your hair any­way (or at least get­ting it wet for some rea­son) it’s bet­ter to go ahead and con­di­tion. But if you can skip a sham­poo-wet-dry cycle and use a leave in con­di­tion­er instead, you’ll avoid oppor­tu­ni­ties for dam­age.

Ladies, have you expe­ri­enced dam­age from dai­ly co-wash­ing? How did you pre­vent against it?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, 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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99 Comments on "3 Ways Daily Co-Washing Can Damage Hair"

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I don’t co-wash every­day. I don’t real­ly see the need to but every­one is dif­fer­ent. If it works for you, that’s great :) I mois­tur­ize my hair every oth­er day and co-wash once a week. 

I don’t wan­na say that the author was wrong because maybe there have been women that have expe­ri­enced neg­a­tive effects from dai­ly co-wash­ing. Some hair may be more frag­ile because of genet­ics. Haha but from what I can see it ben­e­fits most of you.


I don’t cow­ash dai­ly, sim­ply b/c I don’t have the time to wash my hair dai­ly.


Maybe its just me but when i only use con­di­tion­er and no sham­poo my hair feels dirty , i feel the prod­uct build up and it stinks . But i do receive some kind of dry­ness from sham­poo­ing . Any sug­ges­tions ??

@Paola I co-wash every oth­er day and stopped using sham­poo for the past three months. I was using Suave Nat­u­rals Almond and Shea But­ter as a con­di­tion­er and a leave-in. I nev­er felt any build up or felt like it weighed down my hair. It nev­er left my scalp and hair feel­ing like it was still dirty either. How­ev­er, I switched to using Aussie Moist con­di­tion­er as a leave-in (been using it for 2+ weeks) and since it caus­es some build up, I’ve start­ed using Neu­tro­ge­na Clar­i­fy­ing Sham­poo (focus­ing more on my scalp). Supris­ing­ly, it didn’t leave my hair feel­ing… Read more »
You can try to sham­poo your hair less often, re-exam­ine the amount and types of prod­ucts you put in your hair, OR use a No-Poo or Low-Poo sham­poo. Maybe you will have to do all three or some com­bi­na­tion. Sul­fates are what make sham­poo (and dish deter­gent and clothes detergent)make suds. The more sudsy your sham­poo, the more it wll dry your hair out. Try a sham­poo that has no sul­fates, or low sul­fates and water it down then fol­low with a deep con­di­tion­er and leave in con­di­tion­er. Try to make sure your hair is CONDITIONED prop­er­ly rather then try­ing to… Read more »

I’m not a big fan of co-wash­ing either. I dilute SLS free sham­poo (JASON jojo­ba). It leaves my hair soft & clean w/o feel­ing stripped. Works for my 4-some­thing hair.


I start­ed back cow­ash­ing after stay­ing away from it for a num­ber of months..I recent­ly got a dif­fuss­er and start­ed back co wash­ing everyday..Its the best thing I could have done for my hair..You can’t go by a lot of these sites and what they say..That state­ment about con­di­tion­er dam­ag­ing hair is just ridicu­lous.….

I want to know the sam­ple size, how many exper­i­ments were done, and how many sub­jects actu­al­ly had tex­tured hair to prove that Water dam­ages the hair because of the expan­sion and con­trac­tion. I just don’t buy it. If that was the case then all of the 2 and 3 type curlies that wash their hair every day (with sham­poo) would be bald. I have type 4b or 4c hair and I co-wash my hair near­ly every day. It has been incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial. If your hair is dry it is not because of CO-wash­ing-it means that you are using the… Read more »

I do love cowashing…but doing it every­day seems a lit­tle much.Seriously, I could not stand hav­ing wet hair every­day ugh.


In my expe­ri­ence I don’t like co wash­ing because my hair still feels dirty and too oily. I like to wear my hair straight in the win­ter and nat­ur­al in the sum­mer. When wear­ing it straight if I don’t sham­poo it doesn’t straight­en good and it’s weighed down from dirt and oil. Sigh, what to do?

I def­i­nite­ly under­stand what you are say­ing. On top of that I find that because I have dan­druff my hair was itchy and greasy. HOWEVER, i read anoth­er arti­cle on co-wash­ing and this is how to wash it and get it clean: take a cheap­er con­di­tion­er say V05 and work through your hair mas­sag­ing the scalp to loosen dirt. Then take a qual­i­ty con­di­tion­er and work through and let set then rinse. I find for myself I have to mas­sage with the 1st con­di­tion­er once to loosen dirt and then a sec­ond time to real­ly get the dirt out–its hard­en… Read more »
I’m not a “co-wash­er,” but I also dis­agree with this arti­cle. I think the dam­age, if any, that is caused by wet­ting your hair is min­i­mal when you weigh it against the need to clean your scalp! Why isn’t any­one talk­ing about that?  After I wash my hair, my scalp feels great! It doesn’t itch or hurt, and my hair smells good, looks bet­ter, and is mois­tur­ized. I always feel like I have just got­ten a mas­sage after I wash my hair. By the way, I hap­pen to use a med­icat­ed sham­poo for parts of my scalp, and a mild sham­poo… Read more »

Ladies, first you have to read the arti­cle. It is not about co-wash can pos­si­bly dam­age you hair. It is the oppo­site. I think the blog­ger must change the title. I do co-wash every day or as need­ed. This is one of the best reg­i­men to man­age after big chop hair, while you are get­ting your length. In the mean time this is the eas­i­est way. Once, I get enough length to do more hair style, the co-wash will be less often. So girls, enjoy every state of you nat­ur­al hair growth! Beba…


I got water dam­age from con­stant­ly co wash­ing my hair. To rec­ti­fy it, I told the hair dress­er to just cut it off, she encour­aged me to just let it grow out even­ly …but I’m an all or noth­ing kin­da girl, so I told her to just cut it.


maybe you just need­ed some pro­tein..?


I have to say I have nev­er heard of hair hav­ing “water dam­age” ; a house maybe, but not hair…lol!


LOL. I’ve nev­er heard of that either. And if the hair is being dam­aged after cow­ash­ing, it is not the water, it’s how the hair is han­dled after­ward. Hair is more frag­ile while wet and gen­tle han­dling is a must. But water is not the source of dam­age.




I guess I don’t even under­stand the ques­tion which is prob­a­bly why the response is not that great. Is she wor­ried about dry­ness or dam­age or both? Or break­age? Co-wash­ing will def­i­nite­ly help with dry­ness by replac­ing a dry­ing sham­poo. Any type of han­dling of the hair will lead to some break­age more or less. Some­one who manip­u­lates their hair dai­ly will prob­a­bly deal with more of that than some­one who han­dles their hair on a week­ly basis on a cumu­la­tive basis. To deal with dam­aged hair, oth­er steps besides co-wash­ing are nec­es­sary such as pro­tein treat­ments.

oh good lord. just exist­ing caus­es hair break­age. to me, the bet­ter ques­tion on the break­age meter is: what’s going to cause the most sig­nif­i­cant break­age? what type of han­dling may con­tribute to the least break­age? on the over­all scale, i’m sure that putting con­di­tion­er in your hair and wash­ing it out every day rank pret­ty low on the break­age meter. dam­age is a giv­en. the idea is the min­i­mize it through cer­tain tech­niques. co-wash­ing every day may be a tech­nique that rates low on the dam­ag­ing scale. it cer­tain­ly isn’t up there with flat iron­ing, blow dry­ing, dye­ing, etc. so, it… Read more »


Tonya Juanise

Exact­ly! No won­der a lot of women are hes­ti­tant about going nat­ur­al, some of these sites make it seem like you cant do any­thing to your hair with­out it break­ing. DONT CO WASH, DONT USE SHAMPOO, DONT BLOW DRY, DONT WEAR YOUR HAIR OUT OR YOU WONT RETAIN LENGTH! At the end of the day its all about mod­er­a­tion with your tech­niques, tak­ing your time when comb­ing your hair or manip­u­lat­ing it, and keep­ing it mois­tur­ized. Good­ness. JUST STOP IT, PLEASE! lol


+1! Nat­ur­al hair does take a lot of work, but it does not have to be as com­pli­cat­ed and/or restric­tive as it is made out to be at times!

As Tonya said “mod­er­a­tion with your tech­niques, tak­ing your time when comb­ing your hair or manip­u­lat­ing it, and keep­ing it mois­tur­ized” WILL keep you hair healthy and grow­ing. It’s real­ly not rock­et sci­ence!


@ Landy. EXACTLY!




I agree! It seems that every time I vis­it one of these web­sites there is an arti­cle about how some­thing is dam­ag­ing to hair. Seems like you can’t do any­thing with­out dam­ag­ing it. Can’t comb it, can’t wash it, can’t blow dry, prob­a­bly can’t even look at hair with­out dam­ag­ing it.


LOL@HK. THANK YOU! Just too much dra­ma. What works for one works for them and that’s it. These kind of com­ments can real­ly put peo­ple against being nat­ur­al. Don’t do this don’t do that. Don’t say this don’t say that. Please, i take advice and work with it and if it works it works if it doesn’t i’m not going to pub­lish a bible about it.


I cow­ash my hair twice a week dur­ing the sum­mer and after work­outs. This arti­cle is high­ly dis­agree­able with my expe­ri­ence.


Well, I’m about to take my chances and co-wash at least every oth­er day, if not every­day. I plan to min­i­mize any dam­age that might be done by con­stant­ly apply­ing coconut oil and occa­sion­al­ly adding coconut cream/milk to my hair. I real­ly don’t see how you could co-wash too much. Maybe if you co-wash three times a day. lol.


I com­plete­ly dis­agree with this arti­cle. I’ve been co-wash­ing my hair more often for the curly girl method and it’s one of the best things Ive decid­ed to do for my hair. My hair is always soft and looks a lot healthy.


Hi, what kind of con­di­tion­er do you use? :)


I too do the CG method and cow­ash my hair ever­day. My hair is lov­ing it. My hair is soft­er, stronger and health­i­er. If I don’t cow­ash Sun­nie gets real­ly upset!


What about damp­ing your hair every­day? As in spray­ing it with a lit­tle water before apply­ing leave-in? Still dam­ag­ing?


You echoed the ques­tion on my mind.

Rachel R.
I co-wash every­day, if not every­day its every oth­er day. I do not use sham­poo at all. If I do its onces a month. So far con­di­tion­er only wash­ing works great for me. My con­di­tion­er is mixed with grape­seed oil after co-wash­ing I do the two strand twist and let my hair air dry. My gel for the two strand twist is also mixed with shea but­ter, coconut oil and grape­seed oil. I nev­er ever use a leave in con­di­tion­er because of the oils in my reg­u­lar con­di­tion­er and gel. My hair actu­al­ly loves it when I co-wash every­day. No… Read more »

I dis­agree, when i co-wash my hair every oth­er day my it makes my hair stronger, where my hair was prone to break­ing and shed­ding a lot co-wash­ing has dras­ti­cal­ly reduced it. i still use a Shea but­ter leave in con­di­tion­er before i style, but i have found co-wash­ing very ben­e­fi­cial for my hair


Agreed. When I co-wash dai­ly, my hair grows like weeds and it is soft and supple.I think strand thick­ness is a major fac­tor in being able to co-wash dai­ly.

Ladies lis­ten to your OWN hair! These peo­ple are not sci­en­tist and are quite irre­spon­si­ble using declar­a­tive state­ments.


I agree. Peo­ple the world over wash their every day wihout ill effects but our hair can’t han­dle it? :/

I agree with you Maya. In the sum­mer months, I cow­ash 2–3xs per week and do a lot of wash and goes. My hair loves it.  I think it depends on how the cow­ash is done. I don’t do the heavy duty scrub­bing like the lady on the pic. What I do is put my hair in 5 sec­tions — front, two sides and two back por­tions and cow­ash in sec­tions by just apply­ing the con­di­tion down the length of the sec­tions, fin­ger or widetooth comb detan­gle each con­di­tioned sec­tion, and twist the sec­tion. I let the con­di­tion­er sit in my… Read more »

hi, do you leave it in twists after you rinse out the con­di­tion­er?

Depends on how I’m wear­ing my hair the next day. If I’m in a semi-wash and go mood and am not inter­est­ed in def­i­n­i­tion, then yes. If not, I will seal water mois­ture w/ olive oil and Shea Mois­ture Curl Smooth­ie, sep­a­rate the twist into 8–16 twists (depend­ing on how much of a defined look I want) or 6–8 corn­rows (again, amount depends on how defined I want).  I am a big cow­ash­er and only use sham­poo when my hair feels par­tic­u­lar­ly filmy or sticky like when I use gel. I don’t use gel on a reg­u­lar basis because while it… Read more »

So its okay to just use a leave in con­di­tion­er and only use sham­poo when hair feels filmy or in des­per­ate need?

I’m all about doing what works best for your hair and I don’t believe in cook­ie cut­ter rules. So, if that works for you, go with it. In the win­ter I only cow­ash once a week but I spritz my hair with water and apply olive oil and some sort of leave in (con­di­tion­er, hair prod­uct) on a dai­ly basis. I am a firm believ­er that water is the best mois­tur­iz­er and my hair needs lots of mois­ture. Now, I don’t know if its just habit that I feel the need to do some sort of com­plete soak of my hair… Read more »
I agree with you Yoco, water is the best mois­tur­iz­er. I wet my hair every­day. I do use gel on my wng’s so this also pre­vents exces­sive build-up—but for me sim­ple water is the best mois­tur­iz­er. If I don’t wet my hair I find that it tan­gles (and of course feels dry). I wash/co-wash my hair twice a week.  My hair has been flour­ish­ing using this sys­tem. (I acknowl­edge everyone’s hair is dif­fer­ent.) But the author men­tioned using a leave-in as a suf­fi­cient mois­tur­iz­er: I want to put forth that leave-ins are usu­al­ly used to seal in and retain mois­ture; if… Read more »

^^^^EXACTLY!! Water is a nat­ur­al girl’s best friend.


thats actu­al­ly genius. Im going to try that.