This $8 Shampoo (Well, a Cowash to Be Precise) Saved My Hair
Sofia Kraushaar
  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 18/20
  • Quality/Ease of Use: 18/20
  • Aesthetics: 14/20
  • Scent: 18/20
  • Total: 88/100

Growing up, people constantly threw unsolicited suggestions my way on how to manage my coarse, frizzy and wildly thick hair. “Use this expensive product!” “Scrunch it with heaps of crunchy gel!” “You need to chemically straighten it!” “KERATIN!!!!”

And I did all those things, but mostly, I did everything I could to make it as sleek and flat as possible. Yet, even as an adult, my hair has outsmarted me at every opportunity—oh it’s slightly humid out? Poof! Oh, you’re going to wedding where you won’t have access to outlets? Tight, low bun it is! Oh, everyone’s jumping in the pool? So long, $50 blow-out!

My unruly hair has been bossing me around for as long as I can remember. And when I made a TikTok explaining my experience, and how quarantine has especially made my hair unmanageable, a majority of the comments said something like this: “DO THE CURLY GIRL METHOD!!!!”

The Beginning of My Curly Girl Journey

I’d heard of CGM before, but I’d never thought of my hair as curly. No, I’d describe my hair more as kinky or inconsistently wavy—people have told me my natural looks like dreadlocks, just to give you the idea. But the more I pored over the scroll of super helpful comment and bought myself a copy of  Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey, I knew I needed to try it out. 

The gist of CGM is that moisture is king; it’s the end-all be-all. Moisture keeps your locks in form and sans frizz. It’s that simple. The first step to increasing moisture is to cut out traditional shampoo which has sulfate detergent in it. Sure, it gives you those commercial suds, but it depletes moisture from your hair which is essential to going curly. So, what do you use instead of shampoo? A co-wash, aka a cleansing conditioner.

Finding a Co-Wash without Sulfate, Parabens or Silicone

Here’s where the CGM gets a little tricky. You do need to have a more scientific understanding of your hair—what type of curl do you have? How much deep conditioner can it hold? What’s the porosity?—which can be difficult to assess from the confines of your quarantined home without a professional. Instead of focusing on my curl type, I zero-ed in how to get my hair healthier. I made the educated guess that my hair is low porosity, which means moisture is even harder to come by. For that reason, I knew that in addition to the typical no-no’s of any product—sulfates and parabens—silicones had to go, too, as they can cause build-up (which I’m prone to) and make moisture retention even more challenging. HOWEVER, lots of products geared toward curly hair have silicone. Unless you’re fluent in reading ingredient labels, the easiest way to scan for this is using the Is It CG? website. Type in the product, ingredients and it will tell you if it’s CG-approved.

As I Am Coconut Cowash

All this to say, after lots of research, and a friend’s suggestion, I landed on the As I Am Coconut Cowash that sells for a whopping $8. It’s sulfate-, paraben- and silicone-free and did I mention it’s $8? Since so many CGM products have a really high price point, and maintenance is key—you need deep conditioners, masks, oils, gels—it’s a relief to know that my go-to cleanser is so damn cheap. I love the smell; it’s coconut forward with hints of tangerine. The screw top container is the most annoying thing about it—it’s hard to close the bulky tub when your hands are slippery with product. But as far as changing from a regular shampoo to a co-wash, there’s really no difference, it works just the same, except now I use a scalp massager (ironically made of silicone) to make sure I really get any build-up. Plus, in addition to cleansing, it starts the conditioning process earlier in my wash, which my hair sorely needs. The product promises to add moisture and detangle, and it most definitely does. It’s no wonder it’s has over 3,000 reviews and 4.5/5 rating.

Used with a deep conditioner (I’m still trying to land on one that I really love), a microfiber towel for soaking up excess water,  scrunching (with gel) so it doesn’t break or damage my hair, a dose of the right oil and the bonnet hood for drying, and my hair is actually manageable. I know I’m just at the beginning of my curly hair journey, but I’m excited and optimistic!

$8 at Amazon

RELATED: Hair on the Fritz? Try One of these 9 Coconut Oil Mask Recipes

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