Could Excessive Co-washing Cause Excessive Shedding?

Last updated on April 24th, 2023 at 08:16 pm

fine natural hair

I wrote this post about hair growth a short while ago (It’s one of my bright ideas where my natural hair is concerned lol). These bright idea posts aren’t scientifically proven but they do make you wonder.

Today I was thinking about co-washing and how it might be causing excessive shedding. That is, depending on how you co-wash of course.

You see, lots of ladies co-wash their natural hair with a conditioner. Hence, the term “co” aka conditioner wash. Now days there are more co-wash products on the market meant specifically for co-washing. Yet, it’s still very popular to wash the hair with a regular rinse out conditioner.

Well, I got to thinking about the purpose of a conditioner…

A CNN article quote by celebrity hairstylist Juan Carlos Maciques of the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City:

“The truth is, “all conditioners smooth the cuticle, soften hair, add shine, and restore moisture”

All other information aside, I was paying particular attention to the “soften hair” part.  If one purpose of the conditioner is to soften hair (which is evidenced by the common practice of applying conditioner after shampooing and hair strengthening treatments like protein) then it would stand to reason that applying the conditioner to the scalp would soften it as well right? Ok stay with me.

If you apply a conditioner to your scalp on a regular basis vs. just applying it to your hair, could it be that the hair follicles are softening and releasing the hairs prematurely? (the operative word being “Regular”)

It’s been decided among hair enthusiasts and gurus alike that you should apply shampoo to the scalp and conditioner to the hair.

But what if you don’t shampoo? If you co-wash only and use a regular rinse out conditioner vs. a co-wash product, should it also be applied to the hair only and not the scalp?

Could it be due to the softening effects of the conditioner? If so, then is it possible that extreme softening meant for the hair can lead to the scalp shedding the hair prematurely from the scalp?

Here’s a pic of the instructional/benefits on a couple bottles of store bought conditioner.

co-washing with rinse out conditioner

Seems the main purpose of rinse out conditioner is to soften the hair. Maybe, not so much for use on the scalp. Again, this isn’t some scientifically proven. It’s just an observation that can make you go hmmm.

Do you co-wash with contact to your scalp regularly?
If so, do you ever notice an increase in shedding?

To read that full CNN article, go here.

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  1. Sandra Kirk says:

    Dec. 8, the lady in that ad of excessive co-washing. What is her hair type? I have only been natural for close to two years and still don’t know my type and her hair looks the closest to mine that I have seen yet.
    Please help. Thanking you in advance.

    1. Hi Sandra-

      I’m the lady in the pic 🙂

      Hair typing isn’t a definitive system. It’s only a guideline. Most people have more than one type of hair on their head. For example, most of my hair falls under the type 3c but there are a few patches of 4a and at my nape there’s probably a patch of 3b. Very undefinitive.

      It’s better to focus on your hair’s porosity (how it absorbs and releases moisture).

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