Greasy Hair: Cowash - an Effective Remedy?!

Cowash: what it is, how and when it is done and above all for which type of hair it is indicated! Could cowash be an effective remedy for oily hair?

If you have asked yourself at least one of these questions, if you have only heard about this particular method of washing your hair in passing or if you are looking for an effective remedy for your oily hair then read on! It could represent the alternative to shampoo that you can no longer do without.

I'm trying everything to find that hair care routine that helps me fight my oily hair . I talked in depth about my hair care routine and the criteria I use to choose the natural products to use in the care of my oily hair in this article: How to Choose Natural Products for the Care of Oily Hair

The herbal dye wraps have certainly helped, the alternative washes with chickpea flour too, but I must say that only since I integrated the cowash into my routine have I started to see real benefits... not just soft, silky and polishes but also the time between washes increased from 2 days to 3-4.

If you want to understand if we have similar hair, I talked about it in depth in the article dedicated to the care of fine and thin hair .

But summarizing in 2-3 words: my hair is smooth like spaghetti, very fine and thin, which gets dirty just looking at it and the oily scalp makes it unwatchable 2 days after washing. Volume usually zero if I don't create synergies between specific treatments and products as I describe in the above mentioned article.

To make everything even more complicated, seborrheic dermatitis always pops up in the most stressful periods so going to remove the shampoo, at least for a few washes, has only brought benefits!

cowash what is it how it is made ingredients doses benefits oily hair

What is cowash:

the cowash , which stands for Conditioner Only Wash , is an alternative washing method, which is very delicate on the skin as we only use the conditioner on the hair.

What is needed to make cowash

  • An eco-friendly conditioner (essential requirement: free of silicones and petrolatum)
  • Brown sugar or white sugar
  • A specific essential oil for the care of oily hair: rosemary essential oil, sage essential oil, lemon essential oil or lavender essential oil (maximum 1-2 drops)

Cowash - the choice of conditioner

The choice of conditioner is very important for the success of the wash.


Make sure that the conditioner does not contain silicones otherwise you risk finding yourself with dirtier hair than before. The sheath that the silicone creates on the barrel would trap dirt. I told you about how silicones act on our hair and when they should be avoided, especially in the case of oily hair: Silicones in hair care? Absolute evil?


In addition, make sure that the conditioner is not too nourishing (in the INCI the oils and butters right at the top of the list of ingredients prevail in this case) because it will leave your hair heavy.


Choose a conditioner that has a relatively low price because with cowash you will use up a bottle in 2-3 washes at most.

As in all things, also in this case, to understand which product is suitable for the needs of our hair, we should experiment - experiment - experiment. There are no products that can universally meet the needs of all of us. So don't give up on your first go wrong...

Cowash: Is sugar essential?

Sugar isn't essential in cowash, but it's better if it's there because it ensures a light scrub that facilitates the removal of dead cells and oxygenates the tissues , leaving the skin regenerated and hydrated at the same time thanks to the polysaccharides.

The most suitable is cane sugar, with a medium granulometry (avoid very raw cane sugar), because it takes longer to melt and we also risk scratching the skin.

In addition, the presence of sugar in the cowash compound is useful because when we no longer feel it with our fingertips on our scalp, it means that it has melted and we can proceed with rinsing.

Cowash: essential oil as an effective remedy for oily hair?

The properties of essential oils are known to rebalance the production of sebum and purify our skin . In synergy with this gentle washing method that doesn't aggressively stimulate sebum production, essential oils can ensure truly amazing results in the long run.


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Essential oils must be handled with caution and used in full awareness of the risks they entail because they are very concentrated: if used incorrectly they can cause skin irritation. They should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to their ability to penetrate the bloodstream.

Cowash: how to do it? Doses required?

For the doses of the cowash we adjust a little by eye, based on the length and how thick our hair is.

Having medium to long hair, I personally use for the cowash : half a glass of conditioner, 2 sachets of brown sugar and 2 drops of essential oil which I disperse into the mixture with a finger.

Obviously, everyone is free to adjust with the quantities based on how the hair reacts best, so also in this case: experiment - experiment - experiment.

The extra tip:

Sugar should be added to the glass only after having moistened the hair well to prevent it from melting in the conditioner even before applying it to the scalp.

Apply the compound thus obtained by taking small quantities with your hand and apply first on the skin, then until you finish all the compound also on the lengths. This way you are sure that you have distributed it everywhere.

It doesn't foam, so don't think that if there's no foam, it won't wash your hair.

Then massage the scalp and hair for a long time until you no longer feel the sugar grains (usually about 3-4 minutes are required). I stress, it's important to massage with your fingertips and not scratch the skin with your nails.

Proceed to rinse for a long time until you get bored. I am not joking!

It's one of the reasons why I don't exclusively use the cowash to wash my hair : the amount of water required to rinse the conditioner thoroughly from the scalp and lengths is considerable, sometimes it takes even more than 5 minutes depending on the Hair length. Preferably cold water.

Last the procedure with the acid rinse.

I talked about it at length here: Acid Rinse: Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon for Soft, Shiny Hair .

Or, as an alternative to the acid rinse, I use the Beautilicious Delights polishing hair spray .

The success of the cowash to find yourself with clean, soft and fluffy hair

It basically depends on these things:

  • use a lot of conditioner (not the usual nut of product you use to apply on the lengths, but at least a standard half glass). The amount obviously varies based on how thick and long your hair is.
  • massage the scalp and lengths for a long time to facilitate the removal of dirt.
  • rinse for a long time.
  • do one last acid rinse.

    If you are not satisfied after the cowash , it is possible that the conditioner used is not suitable for the needs of your hair or it is likely that you have not rinsed your mane long enough so your hair is still dirty. I assure you that if you follow the instructions given in this article to the letter, the cowash will be a real revelation.

      The cowash: why does it wash your hair?

      The difference between the formula of a conditioner and a hair mask is the presence of surfactants in the formula of the conditioner.

      The surfactants present in the conditioner are very delicate and their low washing power make cowash the ideal alternative method for washing hair delicately. This also explains why it requires a long massage to be able to remove dirt from the hair, without going to degrease it like shampoo surfactants do

      Cowash: when to use it?

      - in the summer when you sweat a lot more and wash your hair often

      - if you go to the gym several times a week I bet washing your hair is a necessity. The cowash is the trump card in order not to stress the hair too much

      - at the beach when you wash your hair practically every day to remove the saltiness (article link)

      - after herbal dye wraps: the presence of non-aggressive surfactants means that the color fades less.

      Cowash: which type of hair benefits from it?

      The benefits of cowash can benefit both oily and dry hair because it gently degreases, eliminates impurities from the skin and allows you to keep it clean without attacking it.

      Leaving it on the lengths while massaging the scalp, the fat content of the balm replenishes the lipid film of the lengths. You can provide more hydration by adding honey to your mixture (no more because you go to dilute the washing power of the conditioner which is already not very washing).

      Personally, I don't exclusively use cowash because it's not exactly the most eco-friendly way to wash your hair. I prefer to alternate it with other washing methods using chickpea flour or a mix composed of ghassoul and sidr.

      But surely this summer, cowash is a hair washing method that I certainly won't discard because the result on my fine hair is exciting: soft and voluminous hair, rigorously dried upside down (I also told you about it in my hair care routine).

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      So if you too are looking for a delicate and non-stressful wash that allows you to have voluminous, clean and soft hair between one shampoo and another, the cowash could be a valid alternative . Obviously, remember that each hair is unique and therefore the result is always very subjective. We must always be willing to experiment in order to understand what is best for our hair

      The cowash I was very skeptical at the beginning, so much so that it took me years to decide to try it. I was convinced that applying the conditioner to my oily scalp would only weigh down my fine hair but I couldn't be more wrong!

      The fact that it is cheap and very easy to prepare leads me to recommend it without batting an eye.

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