No ‘Poo Curly Hair Care & New Thoughts on Co-Washing


At the beginning of this year I decided to start wearing my natural curl pattern versus always setting my hair in braids.  I read the 2nd Edition of Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey in one day, and revamped my hair care completely.  Prior to this change I was using only DIY herbal and botanical concoctions for all of my hair care.

The Curly Girl Method taught me to confidently detangle and style my hair without a comb or brush, how to trim and cut my hair curl by curl, and the importance of conditioner.  This method is based around using a silicone free and sulfate free conditioner only to cleanse hair and for styling.  I began co-washing my hair every other day with a store bought natural conditioner and also my own homemade conditioner to first build moisture back into my hair.  I now co-wash or “deep condition/cleanse” my hair every three days.

Returning To Simple Herbal Hair Care

Frequent co-washing creates beautiful hydrated curls, yet also for me an unhappy scalp.  I discovered that the solution to my irritated scalp was a simple herbal treatment that I had been using last fall.  A scalp massage with the DIY Green Tea Cleansing Hair Rinse using an herbal infused apple cider vinegar this time in the ingredients was exactly what I needed.  This basic rinse also helped to clarify my hair.

I also started using flax seed gel again with great success.  On the few days that I did not leave conditioner in my hair, I was able to easily detangle and style my hair with flaxseed gel alone.  I added a tiny bit of oil to my flaxseed gel to maintain more moisture in my hair.


My Current Hair Regimen

I’ve noticed that my hair responds better to being cleansed more frequently.  Co-washing every three days has been wonderful for the health of my hair especially since it gives my hair a chance to become completely saturated with water often.  It is moisture that dry curls need most, and co-washing adds that needed moisture.

My hair regimen consists of using the DIY Green Tea Cleansing Hair Rinse for my scalp on every wash day, and co-washing with a natural or homemade conditioner.  I use a natural conditioner to detangle my hair, and also as my leave in.  I detangle my curls with my fingers only.  Flax seed gel makes a great styler and creates great curl definition.  I also like the look of my hair with flax seed gel by itself.  I add a mix of natural oils to my hair focusing on the ends of my hair every day.  One of the most important steps for me creating perfectly defined curls is smoothing each curl individually which I learned from the Tightly Curly Method.  Yes it takes a bit more time than simply raking product through your hair, but the final look is fuller more defined curls.

On the days that I deep condition my hair, every third wash day, I instead combine deep conditioning and cleansing in one step.  I simply mix rhassoul and/or bentonite clay to coconut milk.  Coconut milk is my favorite deep conditioner, and I truly love using clays to cleanse my hair.  I’m playing around with other herbal ingredients to add to this mix as well.  On the days I “deep condition/cleanse” I follow with a natural conditioner and/or flaxseed gel to style.

At night I put my hair up into a very high ponytail or “pineapple.”  I always sleep on a satin pillowcase to protect my hair from rubbing against cotton.  In the morning I spritz my hair lightly with water or the DIY Skin Hair & Body Mist,  and add a mix of natural oils to my hair focusing mainly on the ends of my hair.

This month I’m taking a break from my own cosmetic line formulations to focus on some other projects.   I will instead be testing other conditioners, and using the simple herbal hair treatments that I already formulated.  I have been asked many times about wonderful toxic free conditioner options.  This month will give me the opportunity to create a list of all natural conditioners that work well with the Curly Girl Method.

What natural hair care products and methods have you been using for your straight, wavy, or curly hair?

Also are you interested in making your own DIY Cleansing Conditioner?  Here’s the recipe!  See my most updated hair products and regimen here.

(Images by Dawn Michelle)

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  1. says

    I’ve recently been dabbling in flaxseed gel and I LOVE it. I have mixed hair that’s very curly, but very fine. The flaxseed gel gives it lift, hold and keeps it frizz free. Little did I know, but I have been a co-washer for years! I low-poo my hair once or twice a week and condition every other day or so. I can’t give up my comb though! I find I lose more hair raking it than I do combing.

    I’m very much enjoying discovering the curlyhair culture that’s out there. Now to find a place that can deva cut my curls in Canada!

  2. Sharon says

    Hi Dawn, love your site, wealth of info. I am a recent vegan, also looking for natural solutions. I really feel that you should write a book filled with all of your info. Please tell us what natural conditioner you use to co-wash. Thanks Sharon

  3. says

    Unlike Stephanie, I hate the flax seed gel. It leaves my hair very dry.

    I’m about to try the Terresentials Hair Wash. I bought 2 bottles…Lemon and Lavender. I am going to use this weekend.

  4. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Stephanie, I’m beginning to love flaxseed gel more and more now that I’ve revisited using it again. Do what works for you when it comes to combing or not combing. I’m in awe that curly hair is so uniquely different for everyone. Peace and Sunshine!

  5. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Sharon,
    Glad you love the blog! I’ve actually been thinking of writing a book… I’m glad that there is already interest though. That’s already a good sign. As for conditioner, I’m still using what I’ve made already. I’ve been formulating skin and hair care for my product line. I will post a few conditioner reviews as soon as I find what I’m looking for, and get a chance to use them enough to review.
    Best Wishes!

  6. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Michelle, I would love to hear what you think of Terresentials. I love how the Left Coast Lemon Hair Wash smells!

  7. Lola Zabeth says

    Lately, I’ve been experimenting with green tea also for face and hair, and loving it so far. I’m also loving wheatgrass rinse (powder wheatgrass mixed with water or apple cider vinegar) for my scalp to get rid of the itchies. Great post!

  8. Dawn Michelle says

    Wow Lola, Wheatgrass for hair care sounds amazing! What benefits have you noticed from it? Thanks for sharing!

  9. says

    Wow you’ve great hair! You use quite natural and inventive products too. I’ve recently started using the best hair care shampoo for my hair type and my hair has improved massively. Also, i’ve found that eating plenty of salmon can improve your hair quality dramastically.

  10. Lola Zabeth says

    @Dawn Michelle—the wheatgrass has done wonders for my scalp which seemed to always be itching.

  11. Dawn Michelle says

    Thanks Sam! Omegas are so important for the entire body. I take flaxseed oil capsules. It is also great that you are paying attention to how foods affect your body. Hope you are having a beautiful day today!

  12. LaQuele says

    Hi Dawn, I’ve just recently joined your blog (at the suggestion of my mother). My mother and your mother are god-sisters and they recently spoke after a long time and your mom told my mom about your website and blog. Well I’m loving it and learning so much new information on heathy ways to care for my natural hair. Thanks for sharing such helpful information. I have stopped using shampoo and have been conditioning more often for the past two weeks and have already seen a major difference in my hairs moisture level. I purchased the Curly Girl Handbook too. The method sounds really good, however do you know if it works on fractal/zigzag curls, in other words really kinky hair as far as loosening out the curls and giving it shine?

  13. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi LaQuele,

    I’m really glad our mothers got back in touch! I’ll probably talk to my Ma sometime tomorrow and get the full story :) As for curl loosening, the curly girl method mainly brings the proper moisture levels back to your hair. It will work on fractal/zigzag curls. It takes about a 4-6 weeks for your hair to gain back moisture and to really see the difference in your hair. You’ll notice more curl definition starting from the ends of your hair up.

    As for curl loosening I’m a big advocate of henna treatments. I did notice that henna did loosen my curls as well as really strengthen my hair. It has made my hair extremely shiny as well as less frizzy. Read this article on henna for curl loosening and also this one on how I mix my henna treatments and apply henna. I have a bunch of other articles on henna as well. Henna treatments have nothing to do with the CG method, but I fell in love with what it has done for my hair. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Dawn Michelle

  14. LaQuele says

    Thanks, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about this journey now. I will definitely start reading more articles tomorrow, starting with the ones on Henna. My mom’s name is Bonita Carter by the way and my Grandmother’s name was Ruth Carter (she was really close friends with your grandmother Jackie). We actually have a pic of you as a child in a family album, however I don’t recall ever meeting you as a child. Thanks again for the info. Can’t wait to read more articles.

    LaQuele :-)

  15. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi LaQuele, Aunt Ruthie is the one who taught me to crochet as a little girl! I don’t think we ever met, but I hope that one day we will. I’m glad that you are more optimistic on this journey. Best wishes with everything!

  16. LaQuele says

    Thanks & yes, she taught me to crochet as well. Lol That was her favorite activity. I read one of your articles on Henna. I’m going to give it a try over the weekend. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I also sent you a friend request on fb. :-)

  17. Kisha says

    Loved this! Can’t wait for your list of toxic free conditioners. Do you know when you will post them? Thanks!! I love AO and koils by nature conditioners. Kbn makes a fragrance free version.

  18. Edna says

    Hi Dawn, love your hair! My hair is super-dry so I’m going to give the Curly Girl method a try! I catch colds pretty quick and want to know how long it takes for your hair to dry? I have super-thick hair and would appreciate any hair-drying tips that you can give me so I won’t have to resort to using heat. Thanks and have a great day!

  19. Dawn Michelle says

    Thank you Edna! The Curly Girl Method will definitely help build the moisture levels back in your hair. Don’t be nervous about leaving conditioner in your hair either as it makes a huge difference. I find that when I use only conditioner in my hair as a leave-in that my hair dries faster than when I use conditioner and flaxseed gel. I also have been using the curl defining technique of smoothing each curl with the Tightly Curly Method. It takes some time to do yet it cuts my hair drying time in half. If I only rake conditioner through my hair in sections, my hair takes longer to dry than when I smooth each curl individually. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  20. Ari says

    Hi Dawn Michelle! I just discovered your site while searching for DIY shampoo and conditioner. I know I’m a little late to the party, but I wanted to share that I use whey that I drain out of my homemade yogurt to style my hair, which is thick, wavy, and short. The protein holds my hair in place without weighing it down and the acidity rebalances it, leaving my hair soft and bouncy. I’ve also been using the whey as a facial toner. Have you ever tried it?

  21. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Ari,

    You are never late to any party here! LOL! Wow, I’ve never used whey. I usually use hemp or pea protein for my smoothies. I would love to learn how to make coconut milk yogurt though.

    Feel free to share more if you like. Those who do use whey for protein shakes or for homemade yogurt may find it helpful. I bet the protein is also strengthening for your hair too! Welcome to the Minimalist Beauty club! Keep it simple and affordable, and most important keep in all natural! Best wishes!

  22. grace says

    hey i need advice . is there a difference between co wash and deep condition? plz keep in mind in from SA n we dont do co washing . i dont want to buy a brand product. i prefer it to expeeriment homemade DIY receipes.
    my routine is 2 egg yolks , garlic juice, cayanee pepper, honey ,avocado. i keep this till the yolk dries on my hair. would this be considered a co wash or deep conditioning?
    please help me

  23. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Grace,
    Yes there is a difference with co-washing and deep conditioning hair. Co-washing is using a conditioner to cleanse the hair and scalp. Usually in co-wash conditioners there are specific ingredients to remove dirt and oils form the hair without stripping the hair of moisture. Your DIY conditioner is more of a deep conditioning treatment. I too prefer making my own hair care. I’d simply suggest adding an herbal or clay hair wash to your regimen. You will be able to cleanse your hair following your deep conditioning treatment. I describe how you can make your own DIY herbal hair wash in this article. That article is a part of a hair care series all about making your own hair care products.
    I hope this helps you <3