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Co-washing saved my dye job!

3-28-12 red hair woman

I have a confession.

I’m kind of addicted to dying my hair.

I can never seem to decide whether I want to be a blonde or a redhead … or straddle the happy medium between the two as a strawberry blonde.  I’ll go dirty blonde for a while before I start to get annoyed with how mousey my hair looks, so I’ll try a light auburn shade for several months, only to get fed up with how quickly the red fades … so I revert back to blonde, starting the vicious cycle all over again.

So now, after nearly ten years of dye job after dye job, my formerly soft, baby fine hair has become dry, damaged, and a pain to style–until I discovered “co-washing.”

Co-washing is short for conditioner washing, which is exactly what it sounds like – skipping shampoo and using a conditioner to wash your hair instead. Shampoo – especially those with sulfates – can be seriously drying, so anyone with dry, coarse, or color-treated hair usually dreads having to use it. Conditioner, on the other hand, is designed to add moisture to your hair, so cleansing with it actually leaves your hair soft and manageable.

The best part of co-washing is that it works with any old conditioner, so you can use a bargain priced bottle from the drug store instead of having to shell out big bucks for a high-end shampoo that’s gentle enough for dry, damaged, or color-treated hair. There’s a fine line between treating your hair and over-moisturizing it, though, so don’t use a deep conditioning product for co-washing or you may wind up with limp, flat hair.

Customize your co-washing routine based on how dry, coarse, or damaged your hair is. If your hair is seriously dry, you can co-wash in place of regular shampoo washing every time you cleanse your hair – but be sure to use a clarifying shampoo once or so a week to remove any buildup that may occur on your hair and scalp from the conditioner. If your hair is only moderately dry, you can alternate between regular shampooing and co-washing or co-wash every third or fourth time that you cleanse your hair. To avoid over-moisturizing your hair, it’s best to start slow, so try co-washing once a week and see how your hair responds.

I’ve been co-washing for almost a year now, and not only is my hair softer and healthier, my color doesn’t seem to fade as fast either.

Hey, maybe I’ll even make up my mind and keep the same color for more than a few months.

Or maybe it’s finally time to try a brighter red…

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Jennifer Blair
By: Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a freelance writer and self-professed beauty junkie. A former beauty consultant for Clinique and Bare Escentuals, she enjoys road testing new products, recreating celebrity looks, and passing on tips and tricks that she's picked up along the way. Jennifer has written for several hair, makeup, and fashion websites, and maintains a blog, There's Always Time For Lipstick , to share her love for everything related to makeup, hair, and skin care. In her spare time, she enjoys taking in baseball and hockey games, and trying to convince friends that life isn't complete without a good red lipstick.