Sunday, April 24, 2011

The "dry" co-wash: my way of circumventing the system

Lately there have been some random thoughts and ideas running through my mind that I thought I'd jot down on e-paper. This blog has become as powerful to my journey as my good ole' fashioned hair journal so please be patient with me as this post may not be as structured as what you may be used to but will serve more as a sounding board than blog post.

As I'm always thinking and pondering on what I can do to make my hair routine better, one word comes to mind-"co-washing." This is the process of "washing" the hair with conditioner only. In recent past I've failed miserably in several attempts at air drying. Proper air drying techniques, in my opinion, is the peanut butter to the co-wash's jelly. The two just go hand in hand. I can't imagine washing, detangling, and roller setting 3 or 4 times a week after a co-washing. It just doesn't make good business sense. So because of this, I became content with washing every weekend and making the most of it.

Well lately, my work schedule has become so hectic that I have to now utilize my weekends to take care of random stuff that I would during the week if I wasn't coming home from work long after sunset. Since less time is available to me on the weekends, I've now adapted my wash routine to a bi-weekly schedule. I've only done this 2 or 3 times now but I've discovered some pros and cons to washing less frequently. Some of the pros include, more time to other stuff on the weekend and less hair lost from roller set manipulation since I'm cutting down the frequency. Cons so far include, increase risk of damage if the moisture and strength levels in the hair aren't replenished in a timely manner. Along with that are the scalp issues that can occur if with less frequent washings.

So I'm weighing the two sides and considering my options. This past week my mind was working overtime to figure out a way to receive the benefits of co-washing especially when I don't have the time. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. What I needed was to get the benefits of co-washing (moisture retention, less breakage, etc) without going through the entire process. The solution I tried this week involved a small spray bottle with an excellent mist, some spring water, and a cheapie moisturizing conditioner. Without measuring I combined the water and conditioner (probably twice as much water as product) into my spray bottle. By combining the two into one bottle, I'm incorporating two of the main ingredients in a co-wash (water and conditioner) into one. Because I'm not undergoing the process in the shower with all the manipulation that goes along with it, I get to enjoy the benefits without experiencing the possible setback that comes with not air drying properly. So this week I bunned daily and all I did was refresh my hair with my co-wash mix then tie a silk scarf to allow the product to do it's thing. Each time I did this step my hair was softer to the touch and my bun felt more moisturized. I like to this of this as a "dry" co-wash because it doesn't require the full emersion into water. Now that I know this technique is a viable alternative for me to co-washing, I'll tweak and adjust it until it's near perfect.

I learned a valuable lesson throughout this process. Before, I wouldn't even consider co-washing because time constraints and such. But at the same time, I was giving up the good that came with co-washing. So now I will question myself as to whether healthy hair techniques that work well for others and, didn't work so well for me in the past, could be modified to meet my needs. A whole new world has opened up to me with regards to what is possible with my regimen and learning from others. Nothing is off limits!
  1. I have a cheap version of a 'satinsakk' and I can only air dry with pleasant results because of it. I put my leave in's and a headband and do what I have to do around the house. When it's time for bed my roots may be damp but I put on my cap and in the morning my hair is straight and smooth with a slight wave. Maybe it would work for you. I do this after both a poo and co wash.

  2. I will give this a try since I am now 8 weeks post relaxer(which is what I consider beginning my stretching)and the weather is getting warmer(my head is beginning to sweat)and I want to stretch between 4 and 6 months this stretch depending on how my hair holds up. I will not do my weekly rollerset as usual and begin implementing some protective styling. Do you think Matrix biolage leave in tonic is the same as the mixture?or should I just put together a little recipe?

  3. @ Nix08-Hey there! I think the root cause of my air drying woes stems from not detangling properly while the hair is still wet. My hair has more texture now then a few years ago when I could air dry without problems.

    I don't know that the satinsakk is but I'm off to my research.

  4. Hi Mkupjunkie! As you may know, Biolage tonic is one of my faves. I do find, though, that using a conditioner, water mix was a bit more moisturizing. It was like I was receiving the effects of the conditioner with every spray. Try both and see which you like better.

  5. As always, thanks for your timely and well thought out post! I've been struggling to decide what to do as well, as I am beginning an exercise regimen, but I do NOT want to have to wash/co-wash every other day. So, your solution may also be a viable option for me as well. I'm not too good with the scarf method yet, so I'm going to have to work on that.

    That Chick Té