When to co-wash and when not to

how to co wash

Adding co-washing to your hair cleansing regime can help soften and strengthen your hair.

Betito Ebengo, Head Stylist at ORS South Africa (formerly Organic Root Stimulator) recommends a weekly co-wash for your natural or chemically treated hair.


What’s co-washing?

A co-wash is when you use only conditioner to cleanse and condition your hair at the same time.

Who should co-wash?

People with excessive dry hair and scalp may benefit greatly from co-washing because shampooing on a weekly basis can strip the hair of natural oils thus leaving the hair extra dry and susceptible to breakage. It is recommended to co-wash dry hair every other week whilst maintaining a shampoo-and-condition regime in the week in-between.


How to co-wash

  1. Create a solution using shampoo, conditioner and lukewarm water

Although specific co-wash products are available any conditioner can be used.

Various co-wash techniques exist, Betito recommends creating a solution in one of two ways when using a normal conditioner: mix your conditioner with lukewarm water to dilute it slightly; or mix one-third shampoo with two-thirds conditioner.

If you use a specific co-wash product there is no need to create a solution because it already includes cleansing properties.


  1. How to apply the solution

– After wetting your hair thoroughly part it into four sections, as you would for relaxing.

– Start applying the co-wash solution from the middle of your head and work your way to the back, front and sides.

– Gently massage the solution into the hair and scalp with your fingertips, not your nails.

– Keep the solution on your hair for three to five minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.

– You can now detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb, towel-dry and style as usual.


When NOT to co-wash

There are however instances where co-washing is not recommended. If you suffer from weak, over-processed hair or extremely oily scalp, co-washing is not for you. It should also not be used if you have dandruff.

Co-washing should never be the only cleansing regime because it does not effectively remove product build-up on the hair and scalp which is why it is recommended to alternate between a shampoo (cleansing) one week and co-washing the next.

Ultimately, including a co-wash into your maintenance regime adds moisture to the hair, detangles, softens, strengthens and nourishes your hair. Co-washing will result in lubricating your hair and scalp leaving hair elastic and thus preventing breakage.


For more information on co-washing, watch this video:

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9 Responses

  1. I’ve only used ORS mayonnaise to deep condition my hair and simply love it. It leaves your hair so soft and manageable.

  2. Haven’t tried ORS products yet but great article. My hair is extremely coily and shrinks to about 90% of its length when blowdried. Products with a lot of moisture make it shrink even more!

  3. I have been meaning to try this out on my hair, but was not sure how to approach it, now I know.

  4. I still prefer to use shampoo and then conditioner. This will not work for me because of my work environment. However, I do think this routine is good for someone who works in the office and not outdoors.

  5. I love this for my hair. It leaves it feeling really soft because of the conditioner. LOVE!

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