Now certainly, sulphates which are found in shampoos dry out the hair and strip the scalp of all oils, while conditioners are said to be always good for the hair and scalp. But in reality, hair conditioners were not designed to cleanse the hair just as face moisturizers are not designed to cleanse the face. Sure you can use creams to remove makeup with a cotton pad, but try to rinse off the cream or lotion with just water. You can't.
I have used the co-wash method in its original “no-shampoo method” and in many different forms it has morphed into over the years - over periods of time ranging from 1 week to 2 months - with and without the ACV rinses, with and without baking soda. Even with lemon. And this is my opinion on it in general.
- It gave my hair a soft feel.
- My hair felt moisturized for longer.
- It made detangling easier.
- It shortened styling time.
- It did not effectively cleanse my hair.
- It did not cleanse my scalp.
- It caused extreme build-up and dullness.
- Over time, without alternating with a cleanser it caused breakage.
- I had to clarify to get the build-up out and even then it took weeks for my hair to rebalance itself.
If you are considering this method of washing your hair you need to understand that it is not a true cleansing method. There are non-sulfate and natural shampoos that contain mild cleansers which do a great and thorough job of cleansing and balancing the scalp without stripping it of all its good oils and ph balance.
In summary, I believe there is a place for co-washing but in my opinion, if you have natural hair, it only should only be used intermittently, somewhat as a treatment process and alternating with proper shampooing and cleansing with shampoo. In order to avoid the problems of build-up and breakage you should not use this method exclusively.
If you do find this method works for you, it is important that you clarify your hair with a clarifying shampoo at least every 2 weeks, to remove the buildup and binders left in your hair by the conditioners (especaially creamy ones). Be aware of that.
For more information on the No Shampoo Method, search our forums or Google the term. There is a lot of information out there.