How Often Should You Wash Curly Hair

January 12, 2021 5 min read

How Often Should You Wash Curly Hair

By Tiffany Walker

Washing your thick, flowing curls can turn into an all-night affair. Seriously though, “I can’t, I have to wash my hair tonight” is a real reason some women need to say no to happy hours and nights out. If you’re worried about how often you’re washing your curly hair, you’re not alone. After all, there are several steps to follow, natural hair products to use, and a long list of dos and don’ts. 

But what if it didn’t have to be so complicated?

Enter co-washing.

That’s a very real possibility. Because washing your hair regularly can strip it of natural oils, co-washing is a great alternative. Co-washing is a simpler—and healthier—way to handle your natural hair. For curly-haired beauties, it might just revolutionize your standard shower routine. But before you ditch your regular hair care routine, how often should you wash curly hair? Or, if you wash your curls less, how can you make sure they are staying healthy?

We’ll fill you in on all the deets, including how to co-wash your curly hair, how often to cleanse your curls, and the best co-wash for curly hair to use for your hair type. 

What is Co-Washing?

So first, let’s answer the question: What is co-washing hair? Co-washing hair is just a shortened version of conditioner-washing, which is precisely as it sounds: washing your hair with conditioner only (otherwise known as “no-poo washing,” but you can probably understand why co-washing has become the more popular phrase). 

Before you go out and ditch the ‘poo, know that co-washing isn’t for everyone. For example, if you have thin, straight hair or an especially oily scalp, you’re probably getting plenty of natural oils and moisture as it is—too much, you might argue. But co-washing can do wonders for specific hair types:

  • Habitually dry hair
  • Curls, coils, and waves
  • Fragile hair, either as natural hair texture or from years of heat treatments
  • Colored hair to maintain vibrant hues for longer between salon trips

If this list includes you, you might want to consider incorporating co-washing into your hair care routine. How, when, and why? 

The Benefits of Co-Washing

What are the benefits of co-washing? Let’s talk about why you’d want to quit regular shampoo cold-turkey, anyway (or at least severely cut back on it). 

So this begs the question - is shampoo bad for your hair? For all the good it does, shampoo can cause quite a few problems, too. But using just conditioner in place of your usual cleansing duo can turn that all around:

  • Regular shampoo might be too good at cleaning your scalp. On the other hand, a cleansing conditioner offers mild cleansing without stripping your hair of its essential natural oils.
  • Co-washing provides much-needed moisture rather than drying your hair out.
  • Conditioners don’t contain the same harsh ingredients as detergents (yup, just like the ones in laundry detergent or dish soap).
  • Co-washing can prevent brittle, damaged hair that can arise from too much washing.

Shampoo isn’t your enemy, but excessive shampoo use certainly can be. All in moderation, as they say. That’s where co-washing conditioner comes in.

How Often Should I Wash My Curly Hair?

For many people out there, the answer is way less often than what you’re currently doing

Many curly gals and naturalistas have jumped on the infrequent-washing bandwagon, but plenty of long-haired folks are still washing their hair every single day (or close to it) when that’s simply not necessary. But, is it bad to wash your hair every day?

To be perfectly honest, there’s no real medical reason to wash your hair at all. But there are plenty of cosmetic reasons to maintain a smooth, clean, shiny head of hair—you just need to know how to do that in the healthiest way. Additionally, if you have Type 3 or 4 hair, you can usually wash your hair less to maintain your ideal hair texture and retain moisture.

So, just how often should you wash curly hair?

Even as you make the switch to co-washing, you shouldn’t say boo to the ‘poo altogether. In addition to your new, regularly-scheduled hair conditioner washing routine, play around with how often you need (and we mean need) to wash your hair with shampoo. It depends on your unique hair type:

  • Wavy hair – If you’re in-between tight curls and stick-straight hair, washing once a week is probably enough to keep things clean without overly drying your hair.
  • Medium curls – Space your shampooing out even more, with a good wash every two to four weeks.
  • Tight coils – You can likely get by with a full shampoo-and-conditioner-combo every six weeks or so.

There is, of course, an element of trial and error.

Start by using a moisturizing shampoo for curly hair once a month. If your hair starts to feel dull and lifeless, switch to every second week or so. If it’s still not at the level of spring and sheen you want, alternate between co-washing and shampooing. 

How to Co-Wash

If you’re looking to wash your hair less and try a no-poo method, make sure you know how to co-wash hair! Sure, “no shampoo” is the cornerstone of the co-washing movement, but there’s a bit more technique to it than that:

  1. Thoroughly soak your hair with water to loosen any debris and help with even product distribution.
  2. Apply enough conditioner to cover your entire head of hair from your roots down to the ends; this is likely more than you’re used to using; that’s because you’re cleaning and conditioning with it, not just the latter.
  3. Massage your scalp with hair conditioner for a full minute to cleanse it of any excess oils, leftover styling product, and impurities. Take care to cover every inch of your hair.
  4. Let it sit for at least three minutes, like a hair mask. The more damaged your hair, the longer you should let the conditioner work its magic.
  5. Rinse thoroughly, then dry. Feel free to style as you usually would.

Shampoo Less & Start Co-Washing With the Perfect Products

So, if you’re ready to have healthy hair and wash your curls less, try out co-washing! Hypothetically, you could hop aboard the co-washing train with whatever regular conditioner you’ve been using all these years. But you can also put the “co” in co-wash with a dedicated co-washing product—it was, after all, made for this exact situation. Finding a co-wash product from Mielle guarantees you the best hair moisturizer for curly hair.

Mielle Organics’s Detangler for natural hair co-wash gently cleanses your hair of excess oils and impurities without the harsh sulfates that can leave you with dry, brittle curls. 

Instead, your hair can grow as long, strong, and healthy as can be—exactly what you deserve. 


  1. Healthline. How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
  2. Medical News Today. Should you wash your hair everyday

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