Should You Co-Wash Your Natural Hair?

Next month I’ll be celebrating 10 years with natural hair.  Woo hoo! Trust me when I say that I have tried lots of products and methods throughout my natural hair journey.  For the last couple years, co-washing has been a favorite of mine for those times when my hair needs a little moisture boost.

Woman using conditioner to wash natural hair

What is Co-Washing?

To co-wash you use conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo.  Since conditioner has rinsing agents added, it can be used to cleanse your hair without having a drying effect.  Typically I wash my hair with shampoo at least once a week.  This keeps my scalp clean but can be drying to my natural hair.  Natural hair already has a tendency to be dry so I like to co-wash mid-week to add moisture to my hair.

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Deep Conditioning with Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator Conditioner

 

woman with natural hair using conditioner

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I love watching hair videos on YouTube.  I’m afraid to even think about how many hours I’ve spent doing so.  One thing I’ve noticed that natural hair gurus say over and over is how important it is to deep condition your hair.  After treating my scalp psoriasis recently left my hair damaged and broken, I figured it was time to take some YouTube advice.  I picked up the Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator conditioner in hopes that it would bring my hair back to it’s former glory.  

My Hair Needed Protein & Moisture

I heard about the Joico K-pak conditioner line before.  I knew it would give my hair a much needed protein boost.  For that I usually reach for my go-to, which is Aphogee’s 2 Minute Reconstructor.  You can watch a demonstration on how I use it here.

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How to Care for Natural Hair During the Winter Months

curlyincolorado.com haircare natural hair
My hair is softer and more manageable thanks to using Olive Oil

I have a love/hate relationship with the long winters that are common here in Colorado.  On the one hand, you have fun times in the snow and beautiful scenery.  On the other, unpleasant bouts of dry skin and hair.  I realize that other states get plenty of snow like we do here in Colorado.  Thing is, we also have a dry climate which can seem even drier during the wintertime.  This seasonal change can lead to skin that soaks up lotion like a sponge.  It can also be a burden to my already thirsty natural hair.

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Keeping My Hair Moisturized While Protective Styling

www.curlyincolorado.com keeping hair moisturized protective styling
It’s a wig!
protective styling with
this full cap wig by Freetress

Last week I started a personal protective style challenge.  A protective style is one that protects the ends of your hair by tucking them away.  My personal challenge is to style my hair this way for a few months.  This will be challenging because I prefer to wear my hair down more often than not.  Hopefully this will lead to the length retention I need in order to gain a few more inches this year.  I plan to do this by wearing my hair in up dos and
under wigs.

Right now,  I only have two wigs and plan to purchase a couple more.   I’ll also be styling my hair in buns, braids and flat twists when I’m not wearing a wig.  I’m doing all of this to keep myself from manipulating my hair.  I suspect that the constant styling
I’m used to has led to my hair length plateau.  For me, more styling
tends to lead to more trimming.

www.curlyincolorado.com keeping hair moisturized protective styling
The moisturizer that saved the day!

Before braiding my hair up last week, I cleansed my hair and scalp with a sulfate free shampoo.  I towel dried my hair and applied leave-in conditioner and grapeseed oil to seal in the moisture.  I assumed that this would be enough to keep my hair moisturized for at least a couple of days.  I also used Eco Styler hair gel to smooth my edges down.  Lastly, I braided my hair into two dutch braids like the ones in my braiding video.  Then I wore my wig during the day and wrapped my hair up at night for about two days.

I  thought that the products and the fact that my hair was braided meant that my hair would stay moisturized under my wig.  Boy was I wrong!  A couple of days later I took my hair down and my hair was so dry.  I quickly applied some moisturizer and then sealed with the grapeseed oil again.  I braided it back up and hoped for the best.  The next day, I could tell that my hair was feeling softer but I still wanted to give it more moisture.  I ended up cleansing my hair again and conditioning.  I decided to do a wash and go style using a heavy conditioner as my leave-in, moisturizer, oil and then gel.  My hair had so much life!  The moisturizer I think was the key.  My leave-in conditioner was not enough on its own.

www.curlyincolorado.com keeping hair moisturized protective styling
My current combination of products
to keep my hair moisturized while protective styling

After wearing my hair curly for a few days, I decided to try again.  This time, after my cleansing routine, I applied a heavy conditioner as my leave-in, moisturizer and grapeseed oil.  Then I brushed my hair back into a simple bun.

I can tell a huge difference in how my hair feels.  If this combination of products works for me, I will continue to do this throughout my protective style challenge.

Scalp Psoriasis and Natural Hair

www.curlyincolorado.com scalp psoriasis natural hairThe fall and winter tends to be the time of year when we hear more about protective styling.  With the colder temperatures and drop in humidity, a lot of naturals will do this in order to protect their tresses.  I admire all of the different styles from braids to twists and pretty up dos.  However, this is usually the time when I really just want to hide my hair from view.  That is because I suffer from scalp psoriasis which tends to last over a long period, beginning in the fall and lasting into the winter.

There is plenty of information online regarding psoriasis.  In my case it shows up on my scalp and skin in small spots that spread out over time.  Years ago, I sought treatment and advice from medical professionals who unfortunately did not help me to understand the condition.  They prescribed steroid creams which led to my worst spell with psoriasis ever.  Later, I found out that psoriasis is an auto immune disease which means the immune system is out of whack somehow.  Since the digestive tract makes up about 70 percent of the immune system, I tend to focus my efforts there.  I do this by eating a diet rich in clean foods and focus on staying hydrated.  I’ll explain more on my diet and supplements in another post.

The tricky thing about having scalp psoriasis while having thick, curly, natural hair is that the flaking that develops can be hard to get rid of.  Using oils can reduce the appearance of flakes but can also increase the production of them.  This means I end up cleansing my hair and scalp more often.

I try to stay away from harsh shampoos during this time because the frequent washing is already a lot of manipulation on my hair.  Sulfate based shampoo leaves my hair feeling stripped and can lead to tangling.  When I cleanse my scalp with a sulfate shampoo I try to follow it up with a pH balanced shampoo or an apple cider vinegar rinse.  I’ll do this once a week and then use a sulfate free shampoo on other days.  I end up cleansing my hair and scalp up to three times per week in total.

As far as protective styling goes I’ve found that wearing hats and wigs are the most comfortable for me right now.  I don’t have to worry about flakes being visible when I’m out which is a boost for my confidence.  Other times, a wash and go style is my go-to because it is quick and easy.  I also don’t worry as much about the frequent washing because I usually refresh the style every two or three days.

Read Here for  How I Clear Up My Psoriasis with Diet and Supplements