05 August 2014

Co-wash your hair people!

see! Wavy, not frizzy!
Some time last year I shared a post about how I wash my face using only natural ingredients, so I thought I would share my method for washing my hair as well. Around the time I started using baking soda to wash my face, I was also experimenting with using it to wash my hair as well. Apparently you can use the baking soda as hair wash and vinegar as a conditioner. The science behind it is that the baking soda causes the scales on your hair to open up to allow water to come in and dirt, oils etc. to escape. The vinegar, which has a similar pH balance to hair, helps to close the scales afterwards to keep the hair soft, shiny and strong.

In theory. I loved the idea of such simple and natural ingredients to not only on my face, but also my hair. However, I just couldn't get the balance right. My hair just continued to feel dry. It looked ok (not frizzy) but it felt so dry.

So I gave the idea up and decided to try co-washing. Co-washing is using conditioner only to wash your hair on a regular basis, and occasionally using shampoo maybe, if you want to. I have been doing this for about a year and I love it! My hair is so much less frizzy overall, and it behaves much better after I style it. Used to be if I straightened or curled or even blow-dried my hair, within a half hour the humidity would put me back to square one! The picture above is of my hair today. I didn't do anything special with it, no products, nothing, just washed and then raced off to work. Its not perfect, but it was fairly humid today, so it held up really well. I used to shampoo it about once a week, but lately it has been more like every other week. I find that really rinsing well at the end makes me not have to shampoo as often.

I first read about co-washing on naturallycurly.com, but I don't believe you really need to have curly hair to follow their ideas. Mine is wavy, and I get some ringlets around my face during the most humid days in the Iowa July and August weather, but in the winter it stays pretty straight. Or frizzy/straightish. I find that the Naturally Curly website is incredibly difficult to use, however, so I decided to provide my own tutorial here! (Complete with products I have tried that work for me)

 Here is what I do:

  1. Wet hair thoroughly
  2. Add conditioner to scalp and rub in, making sure it is saturated to the scalp.
  3. Add more to the middle of hair. Make sure it is saturated as well.
  4. Saturate the ends with any left over conditioner or add more.
  5. You will use a lot more conditioner than you usually do. I probably use a good Tablespoon or two each time I wash. You want the hair to be pretty slippery feeling to ensure that there is enough in. (Optional: Comb in shower with a wide tooth comb before rinsing.)
  6. Rub your scalp really well to work all the conditioner in to your hair. The conditioner has a small amount of soap to remove dirt and things, but you need to work a little harder at getting it to work. Work it up into a bit of a lather. It will not bubble like shampoo, but it will get a little bubbly. I find that if I do not use enough, sometimes the hair near my scalp on the back of my head remains a little greasy feeling at the end.
  7. Rinse really really well. 

 The most important thing to remember when you chose a conditioner is that it not have any silicones in it. Silicones help to smooth the hair down after you wash so that it can look silky smooth. This is like the more lab-chemical  version of what the vinegar does. Sulphates in shampoo act as the baking soda to help open up the scales and get rid of the silicones. However, silicones really only acts as a band-aid to cover up damages to your hair, rather than to make it strong and healthy. If you only condition your hair, these silicones will build up in your hair, so we need to make sure the conditioner we use is silicone free. 

Here is a list of some silicone free hair products you can try!

I will make another post about the products I have tried and currently use.
Good luck! Please feel free to leave any questions or tell me how your co-washing experience went! 

(After a while searching, I found the breakdown of the "curly girl method" which is basically a tutorial for how to co-wash your hair. Doesn't have cool illustrations though...)

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