We all know the benefits of cowashing, but it can be pretty difficult to find a co-wash that gives us everything we’re looking for.

Whether you’re just getting started on the Curly Girl method or have been rocking it forever, these fabulous 15 options will nourish your curls and leave them feeling soft, conditioned and ready for styling!

What is a co-wash/cleansing conditioner?

A co-wash (also called cleansing conditioner) stands for “conditioner wash” – and it refers to washing (usually natural hair) without shampoo, usually with conditioner.

You simply apply the product directly to your scalp and give it a good massage before rinsing out with cool or lukewarm water.

Many in the textured-hair community swear by this method of cleansing, claiming that it’s better for your strands because it doesn’t strip them of moisture.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out our article on Melanin Hair Care – they also make products for textured/afro hair.

What are the benefits of co-washing natural hair?

What are the benefits of co-washing natural hair?

Textured or natural hair is ordinarily more dry than straight hair because the cuticle layers are more tightly sealed together, which makes them hard to penetrate. Because of this, curly heads need lots of moisture — in the form of good old H20, but also in our products.

Cleansing conditioners are great for curly strands because it moisturizes without adding weight.

The best co-washes will:

  • Replenish moisture
  • Promote curl definition
  • Prevent frizz
  • Make your curls bouncy and shiny
  • Reduce tangles
  • Enhance shine
  • Improve hair growth
  • Cleanse thoroughly, while preserving the scalp’s natural oils
  • Keep hair soft without being greasy or heavy
  • Add volume to flat curls
  • Make your natural hair more manageable
  • Make styling easier

What are some good natural oils for a co-wash?

So now that we’ve established that cleansing conditioners are awesome, let’s talk a little bit about ingredients.

Because we’re using this co-wash on curly hair textures, we want to use a product that has extra conditioning powers. Some examples of this might be:

  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Mango butter
  • Aloe vera juice or gel
  • Silk protein extracts (this will add a little more protein to your hair)
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Essential oils can also be great for co-washing as they’re good for the hair as well as the scalp, and tend to have a pleasant, subtle fragrance.

These are just a few of the many ingredients that can add moisture and softness back into your strands. Pony up! And voila, super shiny curls.

How do you use a cleansing conditioners on curly hair?

How do you use a cleansing conditioners on curly hair?

Now that we know what cleansing conditioners are and what ingredients to look for, let’s talk about how to use it – especially on curly hair.

First, you want to use more of the product than you think is necessary.

For best results, you’ll want to apply about a quarter-sized amount at least – and if your hair is long or very thick, it might need even more than that. You can always add more later on if you need it!

Massage the product into your scalp and gently squeeze or scrunch it all over your strands.

If you have long hair, start at the tips and work up towards the roots so that the co-wash doesn’t end up “soaking in” too much before you get a chance to apply it to all of your hair.

Finish off with another round of scrunching to encourage curl formation, then place a plastic shower cap over your hair and leave the product in for about 20 minutes.

This will allow it to thoroughly hydrate your strands. If you’re short on time, just let it sit for 5-10 minutes – or even leave it in overnight like a deep conditioner.

After your allotted time is up, simply rinse out and follow with your favorite leave-in conditioner and styling products.

The Best Co-Wash For Curly Hair – Our 15 Picks

Now that you know all about co-washing, it’s time to talk about choosing the right product to start you off on your journey. Here are our top 15 picks for the best co-washes for curly hair.

SheaMoisture Curl and Style Milk

SheaMoisture Curl and Style Milk

SheaMoisture’s Curl and Style Milk is especially great for low porosity curls. This product contains shea butter, coconut oil, mango seed butter, silk protein extract – and that’s just the beginning! It also has a blend of essential oils that leaves curly hair soft to the touch, with a nice shine.

This product is great for detangling, moisturizing, softening and defining curls – you’ll want to invest in a good squeeze bottle for this one!

Pantene Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-Wash

Pantene Gold Series Deep Hydrating Co-Wash

If you’re looking for the best co-wash on a budget, this one from Pantene’s Gold Series will do the trick. This product is specifically designed for dry, damaged, or color-treated hair. It contains panthenol to strengthen the hair and lock in moisture – which makes it perfect for adding elasticity back into your curls.

It also has a delicious tropical scent that you are sure to love!

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Cleansing Cowash

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Cleansing Cowash

This is a great affordable co-wash that’s perfect for everyday use.

It contains the signature EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea Complex – which includes coconut oil, shea butter and protein-rich soy milk to moisturize your curls from scalp to tips. For an added kick of protein, you can also apply this product on chronically dry hair to refresh your curls.

It’s a great option if you have finer hair or low porosity curls, since it has a lighter consistency than some of the other products on this list. Plus, the scent is sure to leave you feeling pampered!

Oyin Handmade Ginger Mint Co-Wash with Green Tea & Ginger Extracts

Oyin Handmade Ginger Mint Co-Wash with Green Tea & Ginger Extracts

If you’re looking for a product that works great to seal in moisture, this co-wash from Oyin Handmade will leave you feeling refreshed.

It contains aloe vera juice, vegetable glycerine and raw honey to moisturize, as well as green tea extract and castor oil to strengthen your strands. These ingredients leave your hair hydrated and frizz-free – all while giving you a refreshing tingly feeling.

It’s a great option if you have kinky hair, since it contains a blend of botanical butters to nourish and seal each strand. It also works well for those with natural curls who are looking for something that can stretch out their curls.

As I Am Leave-in Conditioner and Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

As I Am Leave-in Conditioner and Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

This super affordable co-wash from As I Am is one of the best on the market.

It contains a blend of natural oils, including coconut oil and shea butter for a fragrant and hydrating detangling session that will give you soft, shiny curls from roots to ends. It also has a light consistency that’s easy to apply – just be sure not to rake it through your hair, as this can cause excessive product build-up.

This co-wash is best for those with low porosity smooth strands who want something that smells great and leaves them with soft curls!

Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Conditioner

Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Conditioner

This creamy and moisturizing cream from Shea Moisture is perfect for low porosity curls.

It contains hydrolyzed wheat protein, marshmallow root, and silk aminos which give all hair types the best slip possible while detangling – no raking required!

This product also includes natural oils like lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil to control frizz while strengthening each strand against damage.

This product is perfect for those with naturally curly or tightly coiled strands who are looking to maintain moisturized curls – and keep them frizz-free!

Hairitage Double Down Conditioning Wash Shampoo

Hairitage Double Down Conditioning Wash Shampoo - Walmart.com

Conditioner-only washing doesn’t have to weigh your hair down.

This product’s lightweight formula contains ingredients like marshmallow root and silk amino acids to give your hair the best slip possible while detangling – no raking required! It also has a light consistency, leaving it perfect for those with low porosity curls who want something that won’t weigh down their strands.

This product is perfect for those with naturally curly or tightly coiled strands who are looking to maintain moisturized curls – and keep them frizz-free!

TWIST Big, Rich & Dreamy Ultra-hydrating Cowash

TWIST Big, Rich & Dreamy Ultra-hydrating Cowash

This is a great co-wash if you have frizz-prone hairs.

It contains ingredients like panthenol, honeyquat, coconut oil, and silk amino acids to moisturize your curls from roots to ends while providing the perfect slip for detangling. Plus, it’s free of sulfates and parabens!

This product is perfect for those with naturally curly or tightly coiled strands who are looking to keep their curly hair well-conditioned.

It’s a great option if you have low porosity hair, too. It contains panthenol and silk amino acids, which deeply penetrate each strand to prevent water from evaporating from the surface of the hair shaft. Combine with a clarifying shampoo for best results!

PURA D’OR Moisture Protect Cleansing Conditioner

PURA D’OR Moisture Protect Cleansing Conditioner

This is a great option if you have fine strands.

It gently removes dirt and product build-up from the surface of your hair without stripping it, making it a great co-wash for all hair types!

It also contains ingredients like keratin protein and argan oil to strengthen each strand against damage, while preventing frizz. It’s also a great option for low porosity hair since it prevents water from escaping the hair.

MopTop Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

MopTop Cowash Cleansing Conditioner

This luxurious and rich co-wash is great for color-treated hair, thanks to the extra virgin coconut oil and its gentle cleanser.

It contains ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, and peppermint oil to provide your hair with nourishing hydration, while preventing frizz so you can effortlessly achieve stretchy curls.

MopTop also has a light consistency that’s easy for those with low porosity smooth strands who want something that won’t weigh down their strands and will leave them with soft curls!

Plus, it has a delicious fruity scent that wakes you up in the morning.

Design Essentials Natural Almond & Avocado Nourishing Co-wash

Design Essentials Natural Almond & Avocado Nourishing Co-wash

If you want to want to try co-washing on a budget, then this is a great option.

This product uses a gentle cleanser to gently cleanse your hair without drying it out. Plus, it contains aloe vera, avocado oil, and glycerin to moisturize each strand while improving elasticity so you can get stretchy coils all day long!

Design Essentials is also great for low porosity smooth strands since it won’t dry your hair out.

It’s enriched with keratin protein, too, so it’ll help strengthen each strand against damage.

RENPURE Vanilla Mint Cleansing Conditioner

RENPURE Vanilla Mint Cleansing Conditioner

This is the perfect choice if you have curly hair.

It contains powerful natural oils like marula oil, omega 6 oils, and cocoa butter to repair dryness without stripping your strands.

Plus, it has a creamy consistency, which makes it perfect for detangling – no raking required!

Your curls will be soft after using this cleansing conditioner since it contains shea butter and glycerin, which are excellent ingredients for hydration.

This product is also great if you have low porosity hair since it prevents water from evaporating from the surface of the hair.

Born Curly Avocado Shea Cowash

Born Curly Avocado Shea Cowash

If you have fine strands or curls that encompass a large circumference, this cleansing conditioner is the one for you!

It’s rich in protein, so it’ll strengthen your hair against breakage while also deeply moisturizing each strand to prevent frizz. It won’t leave your hair feeling heavy, either!

It contains ingredients like avocado oil and shea butter to moisturize strands while also nourishing them with protein. Plus, it has a yummy sweet scent if you’re in the mood for something delicious and fruity.

Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner

Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner

Carol’s Daughter makes excellent products for textured hair – so if you have natural curls, you probably already know about them.

It’s rich in ingredients like almond oil, shea butter, and panthenol that hydrate each strand while preventing frizz. It also contains silk amino acids to strengthen your hair against breakage.

If you have medium to low porosity coarse hair, this is the cleansing conditioner for you.

Kristin Ess Ultra Hydrating Curl Co-Wash

Kristin Ess Ultra Hydrating Curl Co-Wash

Want to moisturize your mane without disrupting your natural curl pattern? Give this conditioning cleanser from Kristen Ess a try.

It’ll give your hair a great amount of volume and elasticity since each strand will be hydrated after using this cleansing conditioner.

Plus, it has ingredients like sea kelp extract and passion flower extract to strengthen your hair against damage caused by heat styling and external stressors.

Kristin Ess also contains argan oil, which will reduce frizz in your hair and leave it looking and feeling soft and bouncy all day long!

This product has a creamy consistency that’ll solve the problem of tangled curls if you have fine strands with medium porosity hair!

Aussie Miracle Curls Co-Wash

Aussie Miracle Curls Co-Wash

If you have dry, coarse, and curly hair, this is the creamy co-wash for you!

Many traditional shampoos won’t properly remove product buildup – but this co-wash from Aussie isn’t like that.

It has a creamy texture that’s easy on your hair. Plus, it gets rid of product buildup while moisturizing each strand with ingredients like cocoa butter and coconut oil – two great hydrating agents!

This product will leave your hair feeling soft and looking frizz-free in no time.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a deep cleansing conditioner that’ll make your hair feel like silk and reduce frizz, check out the products we mentioned above!

Each one of them is different, but they all contain great ingredients to help keep curly or wavy strands as hydrated as possible.

They’re also excellent at detangling your curls without ripping through each strand to make styling a breeze.

Curly or wavy hair can be difficult to manage, but the right co-wash will make it manageable, soft, and frizz-free!

Trust us – you won’t want to use anything else after trying these co-washes.

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