Some of you may have seen or heard of the term "co-wash" in your beard and hair grooming studies. Conditioner only washing or co-wash is a method of cleaning your hair and/or beard. To do this, you simply cut out the shampoo from your routine and lather your hair in conditioner.
What an absurd idea right? It turns out co-washing your hair or beard might be the answer you've been desperately searching for.
What's the Point?
Co-washing was first put into practice by long haired people with curly or wavy hair. This type of hair tends to be dryer than thin, straight hair. So what's so great about it? Jenny Jin of realsimple.com explains that "most conditioners contain trace amounts of detergents called cationic surfactants, or “quats” for short. (Some common types that you can find on your conditioner’s ingredient list are cetrimonium and behentrimonium chloride.)"
These detergents are the powerful agents responsible for cleaning your hair of any dirt, residue from hair products, or grime collected from your day to day activities. Shampoos are typically jam packed with these chemicals to get the job done.
There can be a down side to using detergent based chemicals to clean your hair regularly, especially if you have dry hair. Shampoos tend to strip your follicles of all the natural oils, leaving your hair felling brittle and wiry. If you have wavy or curly hair, you've probably experienced this phenomena many times.
Conditioners contain weaker detergent compounds than shampoos. they will clean your hair, just not to the same degree. Conditioners can help remove any excess residue and grime, while leaving some of the natural oils.
Will It Work For Your Hair?
Before jumping the gun, the co-wash method will not work the same for people with straight hair or oily scalps. This hair type tends to collect residue and oils at a quicker rate than curly or wavy hair. Without the use of shampoo on a more regular basis, straight hair will begin to be weighed down by the oils and give off a damp appearance.
This doesn't mean the co-wash method can't be applied, but people with straight hair will need to incorporate a full shampoo and conditioner wash cycle more frequently.
Co-washing is also a good practice for people that dye their hair. Conditioners break down the pigment at a much slower rate than shampoos do. The end result will be longer lasting color that won't begin to fade as quickly.
I personally have pretty thick, wavy hair, and I can confirm the success of co-washing. My hair tends to look and feel smoother. It's also more pliable. Best of all, I don't wake up in the mornings after taking my evening shower looking like a chia pet due to my hair being completely dried out.
Can I Co-Wash My Beard?
So, let's get down to business and talk about applying the co-wash method to your precious beards. Regardless of what type of hair you have, beard hair tends to be dryer than your head hair. There are significantly fewer follicles on your face than there are on your head. This makes it more difficult for your beard to retain naturally produced oils and in turn makes the hair dryer.
Beard hair is also flat in shape, rather than cylindrical like the hair on top of your noggin. This makes them naturally more coarse, and even curly. For these reasons, you need to be keeping your beard conditioned with beard oil or beard balm regularly.
As far as your in-shower routine, it is recommended to neither wash nor condition your beard daily. However, some of you live more active lifestyles, and not washing your beard regularly is simply not possible.
If you're one of those people, then the co-wash method is definitely something to consider. By skipping the shampoo and using beard softener regularly, you can keep your beard clean, and not excessively dry or brittle. Co-washing your beard will clean your face forest of the dirt and grime you accumulated throughout your day, while giving the natural oils a fighting chance.
Simply think of the softener like a conditioner for your beard. Apply it at the beginning of your shower, and let it soak in for a few seconds. Wash it out before you finish, then apply your leave in conditioners like oil or balm immediately after.
If you experience dry hair or beard, give the co-wash method a go. It could change the game completely. After giving it a couple weeks, feel free to share your experience with us. Any and all feedback and recommendations are always welcome!
Until next time, KEEP ON GROWING.