Best Co Wash For Curly Hair [Review] in 2022
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
As I Am Coconut Co-Wash
Carol's Daughter Hair Milk
Design Essentials Nourishing Co-wash
When it comes to washing our curls, we curlies aren’t like the other girls; we need a bucket load of products such as co-wash, sulfate-free shampoo, hydrating conditioner wash, deep conditioners, leave-in conditioners, you name it.
But for newbies, what is co-washing, and why is it important for curly hair textures?
Well, co-washing is the process of washing your hair types with a lightweight cleansing conditioner; it helps to remove dirt, natural oils, and buildup without stripping the hair from natural moisture. It also helps to restore lost moisture and hydrate the hair.
Since curly hair is the driest hair type of them all because natural oils have a hard time reaching the ends of the hair from the scalp, a cleansing conditioner is a great way to clean the hair in between wash days to prevent natural oil buildup and help to keep hair hydrated.
Sounds pretty cool, right?
Well, to make your life easier, I have spent time hunting down the top cleansing conditioners on the market for curly hair to help promote the natural curl pattern and help rehydrate those thirsty curls easily and hassle-free.
I have ensured that all of these co-washes are a sulfate-free conditioning cleanser, free of silicones and all of the other nasties that can be damaging the curly hair. So you can count on these co-washes for nourishing your hair strands.
So stay tuned; number one is my favorite trust co-wash for reviving my extremely dry hair!
Top Picks Of The Best Co Wash For Curly Hair
As I Am Coconut Co-Wash
best co wash for 4c hair
Right so up first is the staple co-wash in my kit, as I Am legendary. It is extremely moisturizing and hydrating, and all in all, leaves my curls feeling fresh, bouncy, and revived. It well and truly does the job of giving curly hair a moisture kick.
This light conditioning cream by As I Am gentle spreads easily throughout the hair and removes oils and residue, including everything you’ve used to style your coils and curls, leaving your hair looking and feeling fresh and hydrated.
Coconut oil is the best way to hydrate and nourish your curls, and this Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner contains a natural blend of natural ingredients which promote healthy hair growth from the follicular level.
Coconut oil is a natural emollient, so it helps with moisture retention within the hair shaft by creating a seal over the ends. It is also deeply nourishing as it is rich in fatty acids; it can help strengthen hair strands from within and restore protein loss.
This cleansing conditioner maintains moisture, adds more moisture, and helps retain moisture between washes. This is ideal particularly for coily hair as it helps nourish the ends of your hair (which is a need) without leaving your scalp greasy.
As if that was enough, wait until you hear this!
This co-wash makes detangling a breeze and rinses easily from hair, it is gentle enough to use daily, and it is even safe for color-treated hair. If you’re struggling to find a solution for your brittle curls, this is it!
Instead of using shampoo every wash, especially if you have particularly dry curls, you should instead switch up for this excellent cleanser; it will leave your curls feeling nourished and feeling like silk. It is perfect for coarse hair types!
Even some sulfate shampoos can dry out the ends of your hair, but this coconut co-wash contains all the excellent ingredients like coconut oil, castor oil, and citrus extract to revive your curls and provide them with the TLC they need.
This co-wash refreshes your curls without the buildup; it’s brilliant!
- Infused with coconut oil, castor oil, and citrus extract
- Removes oils and residue, including products used
- Natural ingredients which help retain moisture
- Gentle enough to use daily
Latest deal: As I Am Coconut Co-Wash
Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner
best co wash for high porosity hair
Carol’s Daughter is yet another award-winning brand that dedicates its products to curly hair, and its cleansing conditioner is a serious hit. It is designed to rinse away impurities and deeply moisturize hair from root to tip.
Your dream hair starts with the right cleansing conditioner that won’t lead your hair begging for moisture or full of tangled tresses; it is designed to deeply moisturize snd detangle waves, curls, coils, and kinks– so soft that your fingers can do the combing.
It is made with agave, biotin, shea butter and contains pro-vitamin b5 and vitamin E, which are key ingredients for the foundation of healthy curls. Vitamin B5 is especially beneficial for curly hair as it coats the hair to seal moisture within the hair.
Many customers have raved about this product, and many whose curls are type 3 curls. One happy customer claimed that it was “moisturizing but still cleans effectively without leaving your hair greasy.” It leaves curls bouncy and full of life.
But wait, get this!
Carol’s Daughter not only offers brilliant co-washes but their shampoo range and hairstyling range are also pretty incredible too. This co-wash is great for high porosity hair types as it works to seal in moisture.
On the rare occasion that you have high porosity fine hair, this cleansing conditioner is brilliant for helping lock in moisture without feeling too heavy on the hair. It can give your curls that hydration kick without the greasiness.
My only pet peeve about this formula is that it contains silicones… But no need to fear, the silicones within this formula are water-soluble, and the only non-soluble one does not build up on hair because of its lightweight nature.
Water-soluble silicones can actually aid with moisturization, moisture retention, and helping protect the strands from heat and UV damage. There are many benefits of water-soluble silicones curly hair and they do wash out with water!
So this is yet another co-wash winner for curly hair!
- Ideal for type 3/4 curls
- Doesn’t leave hair greasy
- Contains agave, biotin, shea butter and vitamin B5 and E
- Deeply moisturizes from root to tip
- Not curly girl method approved
Latest deal: Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner
Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Nourishing Co-wash
best co wash for natural hair
Next up is another personal favorite of mine is this incredible nourishing co-wash by Design Essentials. This creamy, gentle formula gently cleanses and removes dirt without stripping the natural hair from natural oils.
It is infused with almond and avocado oil to nourish and moisturize the hair from the very roots to the tips. Avocado and almond oils are super lightweight oils making them perfect for nourishing low porosity curls as they are both extremely penetrating.
Avocado oil, in particular, provides moisture and strengthens curly hair from within; this can help when combatting frizz. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve scalp health and even help with scalp issues like dandruff.
It can even protect your hair from UV rays, making it perfect for color-treated hair.
Almond oil is also perfect for coarse hair textures; it is ideal for calming unruly textures. For starters, it can help decrease frizz in damaged hair by infusing the hair strand with moisture and nutrients; almond oil can even protect hair from mechanical, heat, and chemical damage too!
This lightweight all-purpose oil is great for all hair types, but it is extremely beneficial for curly hair as it also acts as a sealant; it can lock in moisture and massively improve manageability by smoothing the hair shaft– pretty cool quality for cleansing conditioners.
It is free from paraben, paraffin, petrolatum, mineral oils, making it beneficial for curls. It does contain some water-soluble silicones, but these are actually massively beneficial for moisturizing curly hair and don’t build up on hair.
Plus, it massively helps save time during the detangling process as these oils go hand in hand to make hair more manageable and make detangling a dream after wash day. You’ll love the results from this hidden gem.
- Gentle formula for cleansing curls
- Infused with avocado and almond oil
- Helps with the detangling process
- Deeply nourishing and moisturizing
- Not Curly Girl Method Approved
Latest deal: Design Essentials Nourishing Co-wash
Aunt Jackie's Flaxseed Purify Me Frizz-Fighting Co-Wash
best co wash for 3b hair
Your hair will thank you after using this sulfate-free, nutrient-rich co-wash cleanser by Aunt Jackie’s. This creamy triple-action remedy replenishes moisture, softens, and thoroughly removes buildup and impurities without stripping the natural oils.
So we’ve heard about the basic oils: coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, but Aunt Jackie’s formula is slightly different; it is infused with flaxseed which is a brilliant source of Omega fatty acids which is brilliant for reviving thinning hair.
Flaxseeds can provide the perfect balance of moisture and definition for curly hair. Flaxseed gel is amazing at creating curl clumps and reducing frizz, promoting the natural curl pattern while also providing a serious moisture kick, perfect for co-washing.
But this isn’t the only oil within this nutrient-rich formula; avocado and coconut oil also makes an appearance.
As I spoke about earlier, coconut oil is a brilliant emollient that massively helps with moisture retention when paired with a moisturizing product. It creates a seal over the ends to lock moisture tightly within the strands; it is also rich in fatty acids, which also help with protein loss and restore damage within the hair.
Avocado oil is a humectant, so it is the moisturizing part of the formula. Humectants work with the environment to attain moisture, and then coconut oil works to retain this moisture. It helps keep the hair hydrated for a long time.
The humectant and emollient qualities of this co-wash are the keys to keeping those curls moisturized!
It can be used for both gentle washing in between shampoo days and can even be used when putting your curls into protective hairstyles. It can provide that moisture kick overnight before washing the next day– your curls will love you after this.
I love Aunt Jackie’s Flaxseed Recipes!
- Humectant and emollient qualities
- Nourishing and repairing
- Helps with thinning hair types
- Curly Girl Method Approved
Latest deal: Aunt Jackie’s Purify Me Co-Wash
Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-Wash
best drugstore co wash
Now, if you’re looking for something slightly more budget-friendly and something you can easily find at your drugstore, then this Complete Conditioning Co-Wash by Cantu is great for natural curls. It helps cleanse and condition the hair and scalp easily.
The ingredients within this drugstore goodness help to gently cleanse the scalp help to avoid product buildup. It is infused with unique blends of natural butters and oils to help infuse goodness within the stands to help lock in moisture.
So let’s start by talking about the shea butter infusion!
Shea butter comes with heaps of benefits for moisturizing and cleansing curl types without leaving a greasy residue. It is perfect for higher porosity hair types as it acts as a sealant over curls to help lock in moisture and leave curls feeling more manageable.
However, in a co-wash, shea butter is not suitable for low porosity curls as it is quite a heavy butter. It is perfect for thick, coarse curls that struggle with moisture retention, but for fine, low porosity curls, it might be too heavy and leave a greasy residue.
Just like other co-washes I have reviewed today, Cantu is also infused with almond and avocado oil. These can also massively aid with moisture retention and nourishing the strands. They are perfect for co-washes as they’re hydrating but lightweight.
Cantu is perfect for coarse curls and a great alternative for those looking for a drugstore alternative!
- Nourishing ingredients
- Great for high porosity hair
- Curly Girl Method approved
- Infused with shea butter, avocado and almond oil
Latest deal: Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-Wash
Best Co-Wash For Curly Hair-- A Buyer's Guide
So I know you’ve probably heard people doing the Curly Girl Method saying that they wash their hair with conditioner, but what they really mean is that they’re washing their hair with a cleansing conditioner.
But what’s the difference?
A cleansing conditioner or co-wash is lightweight and is designed to cleanse your hair rather than just be used to hydrate the ends; if anyone washed their hair with a cheap conditioner they picked up from the store, then yes, it would be greasy.
Co-washes have revolutionized the curly girl world. Since curly hair is known for being particularly dry as the natural oils struggle to reach the ends of your hair, co-washes were designed to hydrate the ends without leaving a greasy residue.
There are so many different types of shampoos now, am I right? From clarifying shampoo, sulfate-free shampoo, regular shampoo to cleansing conditioners– what happened to the 2 in 1 shampoo wash? Just kidding, it is much more straightforward than you think.
For curly hair, you should do a sulfate-free shampoo once a week and a co-wash in between washes when your curls need a bit of reviving. Once every few months, you should use a clarifying shampoo (only if needed) to remove buildup.
See! Easier than you thought? Well, let’s talk about how to co-wash your hair; how to wash curly hair is a whole different guide. If you have thick, coarse hair that struggles to retain moisture, then co-washing will be your saving grace for your curls.
Let’s delve in!
What Is A Co-Wash For Hair
So what is co-wash? In short, co-washing is replacing your shampoo with a product that does the job of shampoo to clean the hair but works as a conditioner to moisturize the hair. But I don’t mean any of that 2 in 1 crap; co-washing is washing with a lightweight conditioner.
Cleansing conditioners allow natural oils to clean, nourish and hydrate the hair and scalp. Co-washing helps to cleanse the hair without stripping the natural oils from the hair. It removes dirt and product buildup (nonsilicone) to leave curls feeling fresh.
It is perfect for the summer months when we sweat more; instead of constantly washing our curls with harsh shampoos, cleansing conditioners offer the best of both worlds. They cleanse and nourish the strands to refresh your curls in between wash days.
Some sulfate-free shampoos can still strip your hair, they may be free of stripping ingredients, but some brands still include quite harsh chemicals which can dry out your hair.
This is why so many girls have switched to washing their hair with a cleansing conditioner, a co-wash. It is extremely effective for coily hair or really curly hair that doesn’t receive much natural moisture from the roots.
Our hair is also often exposed to sun, chlorine, and saltwater during the summer months too so it can replenish the lost moisture from these experiences and help to strengthen hair from within. You can even apply co-wash to your hair before the pool or beach days to protect these luscious strands from the harshness of these waters!
Co-washing prevents damage that these things can cause; it prevents hair from drying out and causing further damage to the hair. Co-washing is an easy way to cut down on shampooing and works wonders for nourishing and reviving dry strands.
How To Co-Wash Curly Hair:
So now we’ve covered what exactly co-washing is; how do you co-wash your hair? Here’s a technique I personally love to use when co-washing my curls to ensure all the goodness is restored and the scalp is cleansed and nourished.
Fully Drench Your Hair With Water:
Before you go in with the cleansing conditioner, you’ll need to soak until it is sopping wet; this should help loosen debris, making it easier to rinse out dirt and grime. So start by massaging your scalp for a few minutes to help stimulate the scalp to release buildup.
This should also help distribute the product evenly throughout the hair to prevent any greasy spots where you may have gone overboard with the conditioner or accidentally missed it. Rinsing beforehand can also help the cleansing properties penetrate through the oil barrier.
Coat Your Hair With Co-Wash:
Forget the BS about how you need a dime-size amount of conditioner; when using a cleansing conditioner, you need enough to cover the root of your hair to the tip. Co-washes are lighter than your heavy conditioners, so don’t panic about using too much.
For some people, if it can be as much as a golf-ball-size amount, don’t be shy with the conditioner as remember you’re not just conditioning your hair but also cleansing. You’ll just want to be sure that you’re using the right co-wash for your hair porosity!
As if you have low porosity hair and use a co-wash suitable for those with high porosity curls, then you’ll probably notice that it will leave a greasy residue as the products are not being properly absorbed and just sitting on top of the hair instead.
Massage, Massage, and Massage Some More:
You want to massage your scalp like no tomorrow to help evenly distribute the conditioner from the scalp to the ends. This should help break down any residue leftover from your styling products.
You should be massaging your scalp for at least 60 seconds to help stimulate the blood flow and remove all dirt and grime from your roots; you need to work it more than shampoo to notice the most benefits. This is what will really get your hair clean!
Once it has been evenly distributed and you have a spare few minutes, I would recommend leaving it for 3 to 5 minutes (especially if your hair is particularly dry or damaged), and then it will act as a mask. Then after those 5 minutes are up, I would recommend giving the ends of your hair a little scrunch.
Give your hair a cool rinse for a few minutes; this should help to remove buildup and dirt on your hair as well as help to seal the cuticle to seal in that luscious moisture from your cleansing conditioner. A cool rinse also comes with heaps of benefits on your health too!
Then rinse and style as usual!
Co-Wash vs. Conditioner: What’s the Difference?
So co-washing is also known as washing your hair with a conditioner, but it is not the same as using your regular conditioner; they are similar but not identical.
Cleansing conditioners have special cleansing ingredients that gently cleanse and remove product buildup as well as moisturize, whereas conditioners help with moisture, detangling, and strengthening. So they do not actually cleanse.
So while a co-wash can do everything that a conditioner can do, a co-wash also has qualities of your conditioner, but it is much more gentle on curly hair, which means that every day can be a good curl day, and you don’t need to strip moisture to achieve this.
So you can use a co-wash to replace your conditioner; you cannot replace a co-wash with any ol’ conditioner as this will just result in a greasy look on the scalp. Your regular conditioner cannot cleanse the hair; it can only hydrate and moisturize.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How often should you co-wash?
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to co-wash in between your regular shampoo washing to try and cut down on the amount of shampoo you are using on your curls. Usually, most curlies tend to co-wash their hair 1-2 times a week.
But this will depend on your hair texture and how many products you tend to style your hair with. So on the days that you feel like your hair needs shampooing, use co-wash instead; it should prolong your style for a few days after.
I’ve created a full guide on how often you should wash curly hair and that includes co-washing, check it out!
When should you co-wash curly hair?
Before you wash curly hair, you should always detangle first, so apply some detangling products or hair oil to each section of hair to create a bit of slip on the curls and to help with the detangling process– make sure that you always use a detangling brush!
Once you’ve detangled and done a pre-treatment for your curls (if necessary), then hop in the shower. You should co-wash your hair after rinsing and massaging your scalp under the water for a few minutes.
If you are doing a co-wash, then you shouldn’t need to use a conditioner (unless really dry); instead, you should hop out of the shower and use a water spray to dampen down each section and make sure that you’re applying your leave-in conditioner to soaking wet hair.
But as a general rule of thumb, your co-wash should act as your shampoo and conditioner all in one.
What does co wash mean for curly hair?
Co-washing is the process of replacing your shampoo with a cleansing conditioner instead. This should act as your shampoo but shouldn’t strip the natural oils from your scalp. It should help with hydration and freshen up the hair between washes.
At first, you may not notice the co-was to be working, but don’t panic. It takes time for your hair to respond to the co-wash and climatize. After a few weeks of using, you may notice that your hair is far less greasy and hair is fresher for longer.
So there you have it, the best co-washes for curly hair. Whether you have fine, low porosity curls or thick, coarse curls, then anyone can benefit from using a co-wash in their curly hair routine. It helps remove excess grease and dirt without detrimenting moisture.
For those that have oily scalps but dry ends, co-washing may be the solution you need. Instead of shampooing and stripping your curls from moisture every few days because your roots are oily, you can use a co-wash to revive the roots and moisturize the ends.
If you’re a curly girl and not using co-wash on your natural hair, then you absolutely need to now! Conditioner washing beats any traditional shampoo. Your curls will be revived and bouncy up until your next wash day.
Cheif Editor & Nail Technician Expert
Jess Rowley, a veteran nail tech, has been studying beauty over the last 11 years and has completed the nail technology program in California. Watching the latest trends in beauty, Jess searches for the highest quality products that make your nails feel loved.