Should You Cowash or Just Wash Your Hair?

By Choya Randolph

As a natural, you probably know that you shouldn’t wash your kinky hair everyday. The point of washing hair of any texture is to keep the scalp clean. It isn’t uncommon for natural oils to weigh down on the hair. Natural oils may sound nice but it doesn’t always look cute. For curly hair, those natural hair oils struggle to cover our coily hair strands so we often struggle with dryness. Because of this, overwashing our hair will have our hair thirsty and not in the “Is Michael B. Jordan single?” kind of way. 

For my seasoned naturals, sometimes you replace a wash day with a cowash. Cowashing is when you use a cleansing conditioner to wash your hair instead of using a shampoo. This is perfect for the naturals who still haven’t found the perfect shampoo that cleanses without stripping your hair of every ounce of moisture you work hard to put in. This is also perfect for those whose hair leans on the drier side. You may need every ounce of moisture you can get. 


You can buy a cowashing conditioner at your local beauty supply store. They tend to be the same price as shampoos because they are cleaning your scalp just like a shampoo would. You can even save a coin by finding instructions online on how to make your own cowashing conditioner. 

If you’re familiar with cowashing then you know that you apply the cowash to soaking wet hair, not forgetting to massage it into your roots. Then you wash it out ‒ but not completely. Some of us don’t even hop in the shower and depend on our spray bottles for rinsing. After, we hydrate using the conditioners and moisturizers of our choice. Cowashes can cleanse and hydrate our hair with a lot less hassle than a regular shampoo. However, sometimes a cowash just won’t cut it.

Though cowashes can be a shampoo alternative to clean our scalp, there are times when we need more than just a scalp cleanse. Our hair could be flaky from gel or just covered in product that needs to go. A cowash may not be the method for when your hair is in this state because cowashes are more gentle than shampoos. It just doesn’t have the cleansing power to completely clean our hair strands. So if your hair is looking like it has dandruff due to all of the product build up, you may want to go back to your regular shampoo routine.

Cowashes sound easy and believe me, they are. However, they are meant to be used more frequently than a shampoo depending on how needy your hair is. If you find yourself with that Wednesday dryness, it may be time to cowash your hair instead of doing an entire wash day routine. 

Though cowashes are a great way to cleanse our scalp while hydrating our hair, do not stop shampooing your hair. Wash days can be tedious but they are necessary. Continue to follow your usual wash day routine when your hair needs it. Cowashes are a hydrating alternative but not a complete replacement for a wash day. If your hair is looking crusty, you may need to give cowashes a break and get back to shampooing. Your hair will thank you for it.