American Curl: Co-Wash

No beauty creation has ever been more suited for curly hair than cleansing conditioners. Why is it such a perfect match? “The cleansing power of traditional lathering shampoos can be too much for curly hair,” says Matt Swinney, L’ANZA Healing Haircare Global Creative Director. “Because there are no traditional surfactants in co-washes, they deliver more moisture, so curly hair becomes soft.” Here, Swinney gives us the scoop on the creamiest, gentlest washes you can offer your clients.

Q: Why are cleansing conditioners ideal for curly hair? 

A: First, you need to understand the anatomy and issues of curly hair versus straight hair. Curly hair is always dry, with open cuticles allowing moisture to escape. Curly hair has sharp bends, leading to thin spots and breakage. And, curly hair has increased friction, with individual strands rubbing against each other. Cleansing conditioners provide extra moisture, reduce friction, increase shine, create ideal fiber alignment and don’t open up the cuticles. In short, everything a curl craves.

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Q: How are cleansing conditioners effective at removing buildup, oil and dirt? 

A: It’s similar to how cold creams remove dirt and makeup on the face. You don’t always need traditional lathering surfactants to remove buildup and oil. Many fruits, for instance, have natural hair-refreshing compounds. In L’ANZA Keratin Healing Oil Cleansing Cream, Shikakai Fruit is the key cleansing ingredient. It’s an Ayurvedic medicinal plant that’s been used to cleanse hair in India since ancient times. It contains natural saponins and alpha hydroxy acids that purify the hair. 

Q: What should stylists tell their clients when they buy a cleansing conditioner at their salon? 

A: There aren’t that many pitfalls when it comes to cleansing conditioners. However, what a client needs to know is when they should switch back to a traditional shampoo, for a more thorough cleansing. Alternating between a deep-cleansing surfactant shampoo and a cleansing conditioner keeps curly hair healthy and ideally balanced. Clients just need to know the right schedule for their particular curl type.