Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by Verna Meachum
A co wash for curly hair is a must have, and finding the best one can be a challenge. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! I’ve rounded up the best co washes for curly hair, so you can find the perfect one for your locks.
I’ve tried all sorts of co washes over the years, and I’m sharing the best ones. No matter what your budget is, there’s a co wash out there that’s perfect for you.
So, if you’re looking for the best of the best, keep reading!
What Is Co-Washing?
Co-washing, or conditioner washing, is a term for cleansing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. It’s also known as no poo (meaning no shampoo).
Conditioner-only washing is especially beneficial for people with naturally curly, coily hair, kinky hair, or extremely dry hair, which can be stripped of its natural oils by harsh shampoos.
Co-washing can help to replenish lost moisture, tame frizz, and leave your curls looking healthy and bouncy. However, it’s important to choose the right formula for your hair type.
If you have fine, thin hair, opt for a lightweight conditioner that won’t weigh down your locks. Those with thick, coarse hair should look for a rich, creamy formula that will deeply hydrate and nurture your strands.
And if you have color-treated hair, be sure to select a conditioner that is specifically designed for protecting color-treated locks. Once you’ve found the perfect co-wash for your hair type, you’ll be on your way to achieving healthy, beautiful curls.
Benefits of co washing
- helps to retain the natural oils in your hair
- helps to prevent frizz
- can make your hair more manageable
- can help to prevent scalp build-up
Shampoo vs. Co Wash
Sulfates are detergents commonly found in shampoos that give a thorough clean. However, certain sulfates (when used in excess) can also strip natural oils and moisture from your hair, resulting in dryness and increased breakage risk.
Shampoo is definitely a necessary part of any curly hair routine and is effective to rid the hair and scalp of sweat, excess sebum, product residue, pollutants, dirt and grime, and dead skin cells.
Co-washing can get rid of dirt and oil, but it may not get rid of all the build-up from products, which is why some people like to use both methods. If however, you enjoy the way your hair feels after co-washing, try alternating between co-washing and shampooing to ensure that your hair and scalp are clean.
Shampooing is still important, but using a co-wash in between can help keep curls looking healthy and hydrated.
Many people often find that co-washing results in softer hair, but the advantages are often temporary, resulting in a slew of hair and scalp issues. If you co wash often, it is important to clarify your hair every few weeks to prevent product build-up or scalp issues.
Now onto what you’ve been waiting for, drumroll please…the best co washes for curly hair!
Our Top 17 Co Wash for Curly Hair Picks
This is probably my favorite co wash of all time. You cannot go wrong with this product. Seriously, stock up on this stuff because your hair will thank you. This formula gently removes dirt and residue, while preserving the hair’s moisture.
This cleansing conditioner is unlike any other because it contains special ingredients that stimulate hair growth at the follicular level.
Key ingredients: Coconut Oil, Tangerine, Castor Oil, Saw Palmetto, and Phytosterols
Pros: Contains natural ingredients, Sulfate free and paraben free. No Phthalates
This rich coconut creamy cleansing conditioner comes in a 16 ounces bottle. It’s a low foaming co wash that will adds natural oils and essential fatty acids to drier curls while you cleanse, helping them grow stronger.
Key ingredients: Coconut Oil, Abyssinian Oil, Rosemary Oil, Sage Oil, Grape Seed Oil
Pros: Sulfate free
This conditioner is ideal for you if you’re undecided about where to begin with co washing. It works for all hair types and textures. This product not only eliminates build-up, grease, and residue, but it also works to restore moisture into the hair. By doing so, it helps create a healthy environment for both the scalp and hair that promotes growth.
Key ingredients: Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Shea Butter, Fatty Alcohol, Coconut Oil
Pros: Sulfate free and paraben free. Provides intense moisture to strengthen hair.
This large sized (16 oz) creamy cleansing conditioner cleanses your curls without stripping them. It is effective for cleansing your hair and scalp while adding lightweight conditioning. It is a concentrated formula, which means it will last you a long time.
Key ingredients: Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Matricaria Recuitita (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Yucca Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis (Melissa) Leaf Extract
Pros: 97% natural/naturally derived ingredients. Sulfate free and paraben free.
Cons: A bit on the pricey side
This cleanser washes away pollutants while also deeply moisturizing from root to tip.Frizz be gone! This curl cream prevents frizz, defines curls, and hydrates hair- all without leaving any crunch or residue.
Key ingredients: Shea Butter, Vitamin B5, Agave Tequilana Stem Extract
Pros: Sulfate free, paraben free, no petrolatum, and no artificial colors
Cons: If you’re following the Curly Girl Method, it contains Dimethicone and Amodimethicone.
This is another one of my favorite co washes, hands down. This ultra hydrating 4-in-1 formula effectively cleanses, conditions, detangles, and nourishes hair.
What is special about this formula is that it’s made with Briogeo proprietary NOVA Complex that supports healthy hair.
Note: this comes in a two pack of the largest size (32 oz.), but will last awhile because a little goes a long way.
Key ingredients: Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, Quinoa Extract, Green Tea, Bamboo Extract
Pros: No sulfates, silicones, parabens, DEA, artificial dyes, or phthalates. Uses organic ingredients and is gluten free and cruelty free.
Cons: Pricey, but worth it.
This is a nourishing co wash that is perfect for chronically dry hair. If your hair is rough, dry or brittle, then this is for you! If you wear your hair in protective styling, then this is also for you.
Key ingredients: Enriched with Flaxseed, Avocado, Coconut Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar
Pros: Moisturizes dry, brittle hair. No mineral oil or petrolatum. Sulfate free and paraben free.
Cons: May have to use a lot.
One of the most cost-effective and efficient hair lines available is definitely Jane Carter Solutions. The company have been in business since 2004, selling items for both men and women of all ages, from many ethnic backgrounds, and for all hair types.
This beautifully blended formula softens, spreads, and lifts your natural curls while also retaining moisture. It also cleanses your hair of impurities while preventing frizz, tangles and breakage.
Key ingredients: Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Restorative Botanicals
Cons: May be limited by availability.
The Conditioning Wash is both a shampoo and a conditioner that will gently cleanse and hydrate your hair. This top-rated co-wash is designed to create a light lather and optimal slip, while also not strip away your scalp’s natural oils. This product will leave your hair feeling softer, shinier and healthier.
Key ingredients: Rosemary Oil, Smashed Avocado, Rare Andiroba, Organic Apricot, Raw Aloe Vera
Pros: 100% Vegan, Cruelty-free, No minerals, sulfates, or phthalates
Cons: A little pricey.
Did you know that Head & Shoulders were the first to find an active ingredient to target the root cause of dandruff? Yep, ’tis true.
This formula cleanses and removes build up and is gentle enough to use daily. This rich and conditioning co wash gently cleanses curls while also providing relief to a dry and itchy scalp. It can be used to refresh hair and scalp in between washes. With regular use, it will also help balance and restores scalp health (associated with dandruff).
Key ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc, Coconut Oil, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol
Pros: Provides intense hydration, dye-free and paraben free
Cons: Contains dimethicone
This low lather formula was developed by scientists and perfected by stylists, which means this is a win win. The Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-Wash is the perfect solution for dry, damaged hair. It deeply hydrates and leaves your hair looking and feeling healthy.
Key ingredients: Stearyl Alcohol, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Panthenol
Pros: Very affordable, easy-to-use pump dispenser. Paraben-free and dye-free.
Cons: Contains Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone which may cause skin irritation for some people.
Watch this video to learn more about the product.
If you have high porosity hair, then this is for you! This was my go to co wash when my hair was over-processed and at its driest. It is a thick, creamy conditioner that is super moisturizing.
Key ingredients: Shea Butter, Mongongo Oil, Hemp Oil, Panthenol, Baobab Protein, Irish Moss
Pros: Made with certified organic ingredients. Contains Mongongo Oil which is high in antioxidants and Vitamin E, which is great for high porosity hair. Also contains hemp oil, which is a natural conditioner. Perfect for color-treated hair.
Cons: Not always in stock.
This formula is designed to treat dryness, relieves itchiness, and dandruff on the scalp. The olive oil and tea tree oil in the formula provide soothing relief. It also help in the development and maintenance of your curls while providing a lot of moisture for dry and curly hair.
Key ingredient: Zinc Pyrithione, Piroctone Olamine, Betaine, Oil-Based Moisturizers
Pros: Affordable, soothes and relieves itchy scalp instantly. Hydrates curls. Paraben-free.
Cons: Strong scent, may irritate sensitive skin, may be messy due to the tub container.
Check out my full review on this product here.
This co wash has a mild cleansing action while also restoring important nutrients and natural moisture back into your hair – all in one simple wash. On the days you don’t shampoo, it balances your hair’s natural oils to prevent excessive build up.
Key ingredients: Aloe Extract, Sea Botanicals, Honey
Pros: Great for all hair types, light moisture, water-soluble ingredients, no parabens, dyes, phthalates.
Cons: A little pricey.
The key ingredient in this scalp treatment is a blend of essential oils that help to dissolve unwanted accumulation and build-up at the scalp and roots. It also fills in the gaps and cracks along the the hair’s cuticle, which helps to restore damage and keep it hydrated.
This product encourages hair growth by stimulating blood flow in the scalp. It also softens hairs and helps to improve hydration levels, preventing moisture loss.
Key ingredients: Highest Quality Plant Extracts Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Bay Essential Oil, Olive Oil.
Pros: Natural and organic ingredients, no harsh chemicals
Cons: Some may not be keen to coconut oil.
If your curls need extra moisture, Hydra Drench Cleansing Conditioner is for you! This ultra-hydrating cleansing conditioner washes away impurities while conditioning simultaneously. If you have low porosity hair, high porosity hair, damaged hair, color treated hair, etc. this will work wonders for you.
Key ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Marshmallow Root Extract, Nigella Sativa (Virgin Black Cumin) Oil
Pros: 100% Natural Scent. Protein free. No harsh ingredients. Highest level of moisture.
Cons: A little pricey
This special formula gets rid of daily dirt and grime build-up without getting rid of hair’s natural oils, resulting in frizz-free bouncy hair. It’s also safe for color-treated or processed hair! It also strengthens hair, seals in moisture, and reduces frizz.
Key ingredients: Cationic Cleansers, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Organic Evening Primrose Oil, Hemp Seed Oil
Pros: Say bye bye to frizz
Cons: Contains Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone, which may be a skin irritant to some people.
How To Co Wash Curly Hair
You will find that there are a few different ways that people like to wash their hair. The best way to find out what works best for you is by experimentation.
However, we can give you a few tips on how to co-wash your curly hair the right way:
Rinse hair with very warm water, 3-5 mins.
Apply co wash to hair and detangle with wide tooth comb or detangling brush. Make sure that you are using a generous amount of product. This will ensure that your hair is properly coated and that you are getting the full benefit of the product.
Massage into your scalp to stimulate scalp and leave in for 5 minutes for optimal conditioning.
Rinse thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.