Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Co-Washing might make you go bald.

Years ago, cleansing conditioners came into my world and things were never the same. The idea that I can apply a conditioner-like "shampoo" to cleanse my hair seemed too good to be true.  Cleansing conditioners were an amazing addition to my regimen.  No more stripped, dry hair.  Hair One was the first cleansing conditioner that I fell in love with.  Then everything rose to a new level once I bit the bullet and invested in WEN.

WEN was more that I could ask for.  Honey Fig's moisturizing qualities rivaled that of some of my favorite conditioners.  Everything seemed perfect.  That is until, I received the results of a hair analysis that revealed the excessive product build up on the strands.  The recommendation was that I cleanse subject my hair to deeper cleaning via shampoo.  I didn't resist the advice because deep down, I knew that clarifying only benefited the hair.  Looking back, I'm really grateful for the reminder because it may have prevented the unfortunate side effect of excessive product build up.

It seems that a percentage of WEN users have experienced our worst nightmare.  Hair loss.  There's even a class action suit against WEN from all of the unhappy customers who've lost their hair.   Although the root cause of the hair loss isn't clearly determined, we can learn from their experience and try to avoid the negative effects of a no-poo regimen.

What if some of the hair loss could be attributed to excess build up on the hair and scalp?  I think back to a post I did years ago where I linked to images of the harmful effects of excessive scalp build up.  Basically, when the scalp gets overloaded with gunk, it puts too much stress on the follicles causing shedding and breakage.

Looking back, I've had a lot of issues with excessive shedding and tangles.  I have crazy scalp issues any way (seborrheic dermatitis).  Allowing dirt, oil and excess product to build up on the scalp only makes things worse.   The scalp likes to be clean. A clean scalp is a healthy scalp.   If we allow the sebum to build up, we promote the possibility of yeast growth, infection and hair fall.

If you're someone who washes once a week, like I did, only used cleansing conditioner, week after week, the possibility of product build up is pretty certain.  If the build up continued, hair loss would be highly probable.  Nowadays, I clarify my scalp with Neutrogena Anti Residue.  I've run out of WEN and have replaced it with Keracare's Sulfate Free Detangling Shampoo for now.  I'm not giving up WEN for good, but I'll be more conscious of how I use cleansing conditioners from this day forward.

Since the weather is warming up, it's extremely important to keep the scalp clean.  We're sweating more than ever. Skin cell turnover is increasing and sebum production rises in the summer months.  So deeper cleansing is a must.  Too keep moisture levels in check, I vow to commit to steam sessions each wash day.  I made the mistake of not steam conditioning last wash and the difference in my hair was really obvious.  It's been a couple weeks since I've reimplemented shampoo to my routine and already noticed a reduction in shed hairs.

Everyone, please head my words and focus on a clean, happy scalp.  Although ACV is a good addition to your wash routine, it won't rid the scalp of build up like shampoo can.


  1. Great Insight. For some reason I shampoo every other week because conditioner's doesn't do an awesome job of cleaning my scalp but keeping my moisture level in check.
    I co-wash in-between shampooing

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  2. I also wonder if Wen was just too much moisture. I know at one point I went crazy with conditioner and cowashing and my hair started coming out in clumps! I was using Hello Hydration and I now know my hair was getting too much moisture.

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  3. I like elasta qp shampoo. It has sulfates but it never entirely strips the hair of moisture.

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  4. Thanks for detailed article. Even I was one of them who used to wash hair once in a week. Now I realized that scalp also needs to breath. so we have to make sure that scalp stays clean if we don't want to face any hair loss.

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  5. The only times I've co-washed was when I had to wash chlorine from my hair during my camp counselor days! It just seems when I'm washing I have a lot of product residue that's build up from the week. I guess it really depends on the individual's hair.

    Check out my blog if you'd like =)
    Kenya | With My Coils

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  6. Excellent post! I feel like with all the constant "our hair needs moisture" articles it's easy to forget that healthy haircare is all about balance. Makes me want to do a protein treatment this week lol

    Follow me to Fancieland

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  7. A little off topic but ladies....OMG I tried a brown sugar/coconut oil scalp scrub last night, and my head feels brand new!

    Instantly, persistent patchy itching I had been having disappeared! And my scalp felt so FRESH! I had never given much thought to scalp exfoliation but it makes perfect sense. We exfoliate every other part, forgettin our scalp; when you think about it, our scalp actually accumulates more dead skin and funk than our legs and faces ever could! I could definitely see how it would impede hair growth and contribute to (if not CAUSE) scalp itching.

    I did a DIY last night...I started by putting a little acne foaming treatment on my scalp. (because of the salicylic acid. Since it was my first time I figured there'd be a lotta gunk and cell build up so I wanted to loosen it first with the acid and I had to work with what I had since I didn't have any commercial scalp exfoliator) ....proceeded with my own mix of coconut oil and brown sugar, followed by a gentle cleanse with a sulfate free shampoo, and an ACV/cold water rinse.

    My hair even felt stronger, and my strands didn't feel as fine and porous as usual. It almost felt like I had just done an Aphogee treatment on my hair. That may be related to the ACV rinse though.

    Anyhow , if you've never tried it - do it!! This is DEFINITELY going to be a staple in my hair care regimen. When I want to splurge I'm going to try the Kingsley line of scalp exfoliants and toners!

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  8. I learned a long time ago that cowashing exclusively wasn't good for my scalp. I try to alternate cowashing with shampooing.

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  9. I've always found that simply using a sulfate free, moisturizing shampoo was better than cowashing. Along with clarifying once or twice a month.

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  10. What about brushing the hair?
    WE never hear about that anymore. It seems it would be very good STILL for the scalp. Cleaning debri , and stimulating blood flow. All good for the scalp.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon,
      You're right, brushing does have some benefits. As long as the hair is strong enough to withstand the mechanical damage. I wrote a post on brushing the scalp for hair stimulation purposes.

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