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How to co-wash like a pro

If you have curly, coily or Afro hair (or it’s been chemically treated) there’s a good chance that your hair care routine could benefit from co-washing.

What is co-wash?

Many shampoos are formulated to include sulphates. Whilst cleansing the hair thoroughly, sulphates can also strip natural oils and moisture from the hair fibres, leaving them dry and prone to breakage. The moisture that has taken days or possibly weeks to be built in curly, coily or Afro hair through routines such as the LOC Method can easily be stripped away with a high-cleansing shampoo. Co-washing enables hair to maintain its natural moisture levels and become healthier and more resilient. It's also a great option for beards!

Lush Afro hair specialist Sarah Sango explains that co-washing hair is a great alternative to shampoo for hair that’s porous and loses moisture quickly. “Co-washing means ‘conditioner washing’, in other words, cleansing your hair using a conditioner as opposed to a shampoo. When I first saw Lush’s hair care range, I wanted a co-wash that would give a creamy lather instantly, could distribute evenly throughout my hair, and was SLS-free. I wanted the feel of using a deep cleanse shampoo yet without my hair feeling stripped of moisture. It’s important with co-washing that there is a balance between hydration and cleansing.”

That’s where Avocado co-wash comes in. This naked bar has been recently reformulated to give curls, coils and any other hair texture a gentle SLS-free wash. On the ingredients list you’ll now instead find Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate: a sulphate alternative that is often referred to as ‘baby foam’ as it is a less active surfactant, better for gently cleansing fragile hair.  

Thankfully, Avocado co-wash still has the same great benefits as before. Cupuaçu and Fair Trade organic cocoa butters with fresh avocado to condition and deeply moisturise the hair, whilst rosemary, lavender and nettle infusion soothe and clarify the scalp. This co-wash is a brilliant all-rounder, but you can also give our exclusive co-washes a go, currently available in Birmingham, Oxford Street and Liverpool shops.

Banana co-wash is packed with fresh banana and hydrolysed wheat protein help to repair and thicken the hair; “This is amazing for chemically-treated hair, whether you relax or colour it. This is going to help keep your strands strong,” says Sarah. 

Coconut co-wash is hydrating and detangles your hair with rich coconut cream. “This is my go-to when I need a moisture boost!” says Sarah. “It’s so gentle, I use it on my baby’s hair.”

Mango co-wash is made with enzymic mango flesh and mango butter to add moisture to your hair. Sarah advises, “This one is the most cleansing, so if you’re focusing on removing product build-up or you want to freshen your hair in between deep cleanses, this is your go-to.”

Avocado co-wash

"I wanted a co-wash that would give a creamy lather instantly, could distribute evenly throughout my hair, and was SLS-free." Lush Hair Lab's Sarah Sango

How to co-wash 

Wet your hair and massage your naked co-wash into the scalp. Alternatively, create a lather between wet hands, then work through the mid-lengths to ends of your hair. Use your fingertips to rub over your entire scalp before rinsing thoroughly. The co-wash coupled with the friction of your fingertips will loosen dirt and residue without stripping away the hair’s natural oils.  

Next, take your regular amount of conditioner (we recommend Power or Glory for Afro hair) and apply as usual, using your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to carefully remove tangles and spread the conditioner through the lengths of your hair. If you find your hair could do with that extra bit of moisture and hydration, you might want to try leaving the conditioner in for 20 mins under a shower cap as a treatment and then thoroughly rinse. 

Depending on the styling products you use, and how often you are co-washing instead of shampooing, you might find that you get a bit of product build-up. In this case, it is advisable to cleanse hair with a clarifying shampoo like Fairly Traded Honey every few washes, as necessary (usually about every three weeks).

So, now that you know what it is, why not try working co-washing into your hair care regime?


See Lush’s new Afro hair care range here 

Follow Sarah and the Hair Lab team on Instagram for more hints and tips.



Comments (10)


about 4 months ago

Product sizes incredible small, for 2C hair usage. Names of the product, really ! ... Not sure why I have an 'icky' feeling about the product names in the Afro hair care range

Mr Noubar

about 3 years ago

I'm worried that this would just make my hair greasy! Does Retread contain silicones? I have been washing with Curly Wurly and I've been conditioning with Retread. I wish Retread was thicker though! It's so thin!


about 3 years ago

I use body conditioners in my hair for a heavier condition

Lush Customer Care

about 3 years ago


Hi there, to give you a comprehensive and detailed answer on this, I would recommend contacting our customer care team on 01202 668545, or [email protected]. They will be more than happy to help - Max

about 4 years ago

Is Veganese made for co-washing? Because when I was sampling it it started lathering faintly and it made me nervous xD

Lush Customer Care

about 4 years ago


It's meant to be used like any other conditioner, it shouldn't lather, it should lightly coat the hair leaving it soft and shiny.


about 5 years ago

I wasn't sure about Co - washing as I don't have Afro, mixed textured, curly or over coloured hair. I am Indian, my hair is in a short bob and is straight. If anything I have some split ends but that's about as damaged as it is. I have it coloured with Henna but not overly. The lady in the shop was showing me the new products and suggested that I try it. As I am always after volume in any product I buy for my hair, I was a bit reluctant, so, Igot a little sample of the Avacado co-wash from the Oxford Street shop today, got home and tried it. I AM IN LOVE WITH IT!! It gives you sufficient volume ( but obviously not as much as BIG or Seanik). Definitely going back for more, smells heavenly too!!


about 5 years ago

Ok - now got the hang of using this - and I'm a convert. I don't use it every time I wash my hair, but it's going on holiday. Another winning product - and the scent? I want more stuff to smell as good as this.


about 5 years ago

So how does this work if you use a solid product such as Avocado Co-wash?


about 5 years ago

how can I do co-wash with solid conditioners, like Jungle, or Big? I think solid conditioners just have no choice to skip the shampoo and applying conditioner.
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