I took down my box braids earlier this year, after wearing them on and off for four years of college, because I knew I couldn’t face another five-to-eight-hour, $150 day of braiding. It was time to enjoy my newly freed curls — and reacquaint myself with my emotionally draining detangling process, which I had never been able to master without losing a lot of hair and spending far too much money on product after product in the hopes of finding the one. Perhaps worst of all, I was spending a good hour-and-a-half finger-detangling every wash day. No matter how much a product claimed to condition or soften, it never gave me the slip I needed to detangle my fine, thick, single-strand knot–prone hair in a reasonable amount of time.
Increasingly convinced by YouTubers and Instagram influencers that my hair problems were being caused by product overload, I became obsessed with finding a one- or two-product routine. It was on this months-long hunt that I first heard of Briogeo’s Be Gentle, Be Kind Avocado + Quinoa Co Wash, in a feverish Google search.
Unlike other hair products I’ve used, which rely on silicones to coat hair, giving the appearance of softness and manageability, Briogeo’s uses plant-based ingredients to actually nourish hair and make it noticeably healthier over time. When I saw that Briogeo’s co-wash contained practically every ingredient that I’d ever heard was good or that had ever been good for my hair: aloe vera and avocado, both of which my hair loves; shea butter, a staple in my West African household growing up; and hydrolyzed quinoa, a natural source of protein and amino acids, I was sold. Plus, on top of being free of sulfates, parabens, and silicones, the co-wash contains squalane, a powerhouse ingredient for both skin and hair that’s a favorite among beauty writers (including here at the Strategist).
Sufficiently intrigued, and desperately seeking retail therapy after watching myself “graduate” virtually from college on my living room television, I splurged on the jumbo size (even though I already had three almost-full bottles of conditioner already). The 34-ounce bottle arrived in the mail, and I was so anxious to try it that I even moved up my weekly wash day.
I started out as I would with any conditioner: I divided my hair into four sections, distributed the Briogeo through my hair, and let it sit for a while after detangling and before rinsing. Usually, I’m using lots of water and conditioner in order to work it through my hair and detangle, losing lots of hair and using lots of low-slip conditioner in the process — but with Briogeo, I was shocked at how quickly I was able to run my fingers and detangling brush through my hair, and how fast I was done with each section. It was so smoothing and non-frizzing, even when I gave my hair and scalp a good massage. It came out thick, and looked almost like a deep conditioner, but melted silkily into my fine, type 4 curls. Also, I only left it in my hair for a few minutes while I washed my body, but my hair was amazingly soft after.
I’ve never believed in all-in-ones, but this co-wash has become just that. It more than adequately cleanses, conditions, detangles, deeply moisturizes, and softens my hair, without leaving it weighed down, frizzy, or dry. Usually, I’m always reaching for another product to compensate for what the last one did — a shampoo for product buildup from a heavy cream, a conditioner to restore moisture from a drying shampoo, or a leave-in to add more moisture that a conditioner inadvertently sucked out. Briogeo’s co-wash renders all of the product juggling unnecessary. I’ll work some oil, aloe, or shea butter into my hair after washing, but that’s really out of habit more than anything. In truth, Briogeo always leaves my hair good to go.
Best of all, it melts my tangles like nobody’s business. Coupled with my Felicia Leatherwood brush, this co-wash ensures that I am done washing and detangling my hair within 15 minutes every wash day, 20 if I’m feeling a bit luxurious. And the results are lasting. After using Briogeo for several weeks, my hair is so shiny — it has never been shiny — and is retaining length at a much faster rate than on any other previous convoluted hair regimen I’ve had, including an ill-fated sweet potato hair mask that left orange crumbs in my sinks for days, and after a crazed mid-quarantine moment where I decided I was going to cut all my hair off, but ended up cutting off a healthy two inches for no reason and left a bald spot just above my temple where I lost my nerve. (A spot that is growing back beautifully since starting Briogeo, by the way).
It’s pricey at $32 for 16 ounces, but I’ve found that its consistency — one or two small pumps totally coats and nourish each section of my hair — means that a little goes a long way, the 34-ounce bottle, which costs $58, has lasted me over three months, and there’s still enough for several weeks’ worth of washes left in the bottle. Plus, because this conditioner just does it for me — and by it, I mean everything — I’m not spending as much money on creams and shampoos and other hair products as I have in the past. My low-porosity hair, which used to become dry, brittle, and impossibly tangled by the end of the week, stays soft, moisturized, (relatively) free of tangles, and completely unfrizzy. Truly no other product has ever come close to giving me the salon feeling that Briogeo does, and I’m never looking back.
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