How to co-wash like a pro
If you have curly, coily or Afro hair (or it’s been chemically treated) there’s a good chance that your hair care routine could benefit from co-washing.
What is co-wash?
Many shampoos are formulated to include sulphates. Whilst cleansing the hair thoroughly, sulphates can also strip natural oils and moisture from the hair fibres, leaving them dry and prone to breakage. The moisture that has taken days or possibly weeks to be built in curly, coily or Afro hair through routines such as the LOC Method can easily be stripped away with a high-cleansing shampoo. Co-washing enables hair to maintain its natural moisture levels and become healthier and more resilient. It's also a great option for beards!
Lush Afro hair specialist Sarah Sango explains that co-washing hair is a great alternative to shampoo for hair that’s porous and loses moisture quickly. “Co-washing means ‘conditioner washing’, in other words, cleansing your hair using a conditioner as opposed to a shampoo. When I first saw Lush’s hair care range, I wanted a co-wash that would give a creamy lather instantly, could distribute evenly throughout my hair, and was SLS-free. I wanted the feel of using a deep cleanse shampoo yet without my hair feeling stripped of moisture. It’s important with co-washing that there is a balance between hydration and cleansing.”
That’s where Avocado co-wash comes in. This naked bar has been recently reformulated to give curls, coils and any other hair texture a gentle SLS-free wash. On the ingredients list you’ll now instead find Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate: a sulphate alternative that is often referred to as ‘baby foam’ as it is a less active surfactant, better for gently cleansing fragile hair.
Thankfully, Avocado co-wash still has the same great benefits as before. Cupuaçu and Fair Trade organic cocoa butters with fresh avocado to condition and deeply moisturise the hair, whilst rosemary, lavender and nettle infusion soothe and clarify the scalp. This co-wash is a brilliant all-rounder, but you can also give our exclusive co-washes a go, currently available in Birmingham, Oxford Street and Liverpool shops.
Banana co-wash is packed with fresh banana and hydrolysed wheat protein help to repair and thicken the hair; “This is amazing for chemically-treated hair, whether you relax or colour it. This is going to help keep your strands strong,” says Sarah.
Coconut co-wash is hydrating and detangles your hair with rich coconut cream. “This is my go-to when I need a moisture boost!” says Sarah. “It’s so gentle, I use it on my baby’s hair.”
Mango co-wash is made with enzymic mango flesh and mango butter to add moisture to your hair. Sarah advises, “This one is the most cleansing, so if you’re focusing on removing product build-up or you want to freshen your hair in between deep cleanses, this is your go-to.”
"I wanted a co-wash that would give a creamy lather instantly, could distribute evenly throughout my hair, and was SLS-free."
How to co-wash
Wet your hair and massage your naked co-wash into the scalp. Alternatively, create a lather between wet hands, then work through the mid-lengths to ends of your hair. Use your fingertips to rub over your entire scalp before rinsing thoroughly. The co-wash coupled with the friction of your fingertips will loosen dirt and residue without stripping away the hair’s natural oils.
Next, take your regular amount of conditioner (we recommend Power or Glory for Afro hair) and apply as usual, using your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to carefully remove tangles and spread the conditioner through the lengths of your hair. If you find your hair could do with that extra bit of moisture and hydration, you might want to try leaving the conditioner in for 20 mins under a shower cap as a treatment and then thoroughly rinse.
Depending on the styling products you use, and how often you are co-washing instead of shampooing, you might find that you get a bit of product build-up. In this case, it is advisable to cleanse hair with a clarifying shampoo like Fairly Traded Honey every few washes, as necessary (usually about every three weeks).
So, now that you know what it is, why not try working co-washing into your hair care regime?
See Lush’s new Afro hair care range here