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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Demetreanna

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.

Sieta

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

Paola

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 ??

Amy
@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 »
HoneyBunny
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… Read more »
Whipple

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.

lisab

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…..

TEE
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 »
Lola

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

Dametria

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?

Monica
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 »
Dolores
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… Read more »
Zulu

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…

Simone

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.

renee

maybe you just needed some protein..?

Landy

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

yoco

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.

Jane

LOL

ladyluo

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.

merry
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.… Read more »
bnasty

^ WORD

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

Landy

+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!

Rciyah

@ Landy. EXACTLY!

Rciyah

THANK YOU @ Landy! EXACTLY!

HK

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.

Rciyah

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.

honeybrown1976

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

Auset

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.

lovelycurls

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.

Mary

Hi, what kind of conditioner do you use? 🙂

Alexandra

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!

HeyHeyHey

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

Julia

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 »
Maya

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

Jane

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.

Imaka

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

yoco
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… Read more »
df

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

yoco
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… Read more »
Sassy

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

yoco
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… Read more »
Desiree
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;… Read more »
yoco

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

minnie

thats actually genius. Im going to try that.

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