By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

I think that one of the most revolutionary steps in learning how to make my wash day easier was the final dawning that my hair was not built to be washed free. Natural hair over 6 inches in length usually  has significantly more bulk due to having a curl; shrinkage is also a big factor as it can complicate washing  by increasing tangling during the process.  For the first year of being natural, washing hair free is not an issue, when you do go into your second year, you may need to rethink your strategy to decrease knotting and tangling as well as overall wash time.

There are three key was to wash hair in sections:

Method 1: In braids that don’t come undone

This video is demonstrated on relaxed hair. This method is  best for natural hair with a very tight/small curl, multiple kinks, high shrinkage and long hair. If your hair has any one of these properties the benefit of keeping hair in the braids while washing is that it counteracts against tangling. In order to successfully achieve a good result, hair should be detangled prior to braiding it for the wash. Braids should be relatively large and loose so that you can access your scalp easily. Care should be taken not to tug or pull hair in the process.

Method 2: In braids that are undone

This method is suited to anyone with a loose curl, low shrinkage or who is not satisfied with the level of cleaning achieved with keeping hair in braids during the wash. This method is very similar to the first described above but undoing each braid allows easier access for shampoo and water. The first method requires a high attention to detail to distribute the shampoo well as well as to rinse it off. This second method eases some of those challenges while still allowing the volume of hair to be controlled.

Method 3: With section clips

This video shows how to use section clips to wash hair. I actually think that the hair on the demonstrator is actually more suited to using method 1 as section clips suit fine overall hair thickness, loose curls and hair that does not shrink significantly during the wash. Nonetheless, it is a good video to demonstrate how section clips can be used to control the volume of hair during the wash. Natural hair washed in this method is essentially almost free and this is the reason why hair with high shrinkage or high overall thickness (i.e. a lot of hair) is not suited to this method.

Ladies, what method do you use to wash your hair? Why does it work best for you?

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33 Comments on "3 Techniques for Washing Natural Hair in Sections"

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Koils Of A Libra

I HAVE to wash my hair in large braids. My hair is 4c and arm pit length so it’s not quite long enough yet to do twists without them coming undone


I have used all of the methods listed above (armpit length 4c hair) and I combine the last two methods I guess…I put my hair in 4 sections and clip them up…take them down one by one and wash and condition them clip them back up. I can get to my scalp and strands better yet still avoid tangles. Have seen TONY less breakage by finally accepting I can’t wash my hair while it’s free


My hair is only about 7-8 inches long but I have recently found that washing in about 6 twisted sections works well. Check out my vlog for styling ideas.


I ALWAYS wash in 4 – 6 twists. I have high shrinkage, fine, mid back length hair. No other option for me, lol.


[…] when I tackle it in sections, it also makes detangling much easier as well.  This informative article by Black Girl Long Hair demonstrates three different techniques for washing hair in sections that […]


[…] Washing hair in sections is a popular approach that helps keep hair from tangling when wet. Learn three techniques for washing hair in sections. You’ll see that some naturals opt for washing their hair while keeping it in braids, […]


[…] the finger combing on its own is good enough to keep your hair detangled (see the previous how to on keeping hair in sections while washing as that will help to stop hair tangling after […]

Ugonna Wosu

I can’t see the third video. What’s it called so I can go straight to youtube and watch it? Thanks.


Before most of washes I prepoo my hair and put my hair in large twist 6 to 8 or in bantu knot and I use these sections while washing I undo apply soap redo and go on the other one or sometimes I rinse before redoing it and go on the other one depending of my mood.


I’ll never wash my hair in sections, wash day is hair play day and I can’t do that if it is all plaited up.

I have found when I have washed my hair in plaits I always have conditioner left in when I take them out and end up having to wash them again.

Maybe if my hair was flowing down my back rather than being about 9″ long I might bother.

Still, it is interesting to read about the multitude of techniques avaialble but I like to keep it very simple.


Right now I can still wash it free because after my BC in August (and a follow-up trim in September to get any remaining texturised ends out of the way) my hair is now quite short. However since my hair grows pretty fast, I’ll have to start sectioning it soon, so these videos are a great help.


I wash my hair in sections of twists because it takes less time to twist than to braid and less chance of gunk. I think that really shouldn’t matter, but I have less lint, product, or buildup, attached to my kinks/SSKs imo. My hair type is 3-4 with mainly 4 dominating btw. Is washing in braids really better or more beneficial than twists?


so how do you keep the twists/braids from unraveling? Mine always unravels so I just opt to wash my hair in four clipped sections.


I wash my hair in twists. I twist to the end and they never unravel. I think it’s because I only scrub my scalp and then squeeze the twist to assist the shower street in getting the conditioner out.

If your twists or braids unravel, try using a metal-free hair tie to secure them.


Duuuude. I had been putting off trying this but as it happens I tried it for the first time last night. It takes for-damn-ever, I won’t lie. I essentially washed eight little heads, LOL! But I lost a LOT LESS hair, and it was lovely to have stretched and detangled hair when I stepped out of the shower. All I had to do was squeeze each section with my microfiber towel to dry it and set my hair. For that reason, I’ll be doing it from now on.


I tried the first method because of that very video but it didn’t work out for me. My hair kept coming out on its own (I’m relaxed) & before my wash was over I had just given up & went back to free washing which didn’t work out so great when I washed my deep conditioner out over the sink. Sectioning my hair in clips works so much better & then I just rollerset my hair in those same sections. Breakage has definitely been reduced from washing my hair this way.


I wash my hair in 9-10 plaits.

I also use diluted shampoo. And I haven’t had any issues with residual shampoo or conditioner. It takes me ~45 minutes to wash, condition, and style my hair.


I wash my hair in twists and use an applicator bottle to apply the shampoo directly to my scalp. Works a miracle.


Great helpful post, Jc!

Lately I’ve been doing Method 1 (with 8-10 braids) but I still don’t feel as though I’m getting everything in and then out. I don’t want to take the time to unravel each braid and check though. I much prefer large twists; I’m just going to have to secure them better so they don’t unravel.

I wash in 12 twisted sections that don’t come undone. Before shampooing, I detangle my hair 12 sections. After finger-detangling each section with coconut oil and conditioner, I twist it up. Then, I cover my hair with a plastic cap-hat combo and let the conditioner sit for 10-15 minutes. Finally, I hop in the shower, rinse the conditioner, shampoo my scalp (via diluted shampoo in an applicator bottle) and finish up my hair care routine (moisturizing, braiding, sealing, air-drying, etc). Washing in twisted sections works very well for my thick, long, tightly coiled hair. It simplifies detangling (no re-tangling while… Read more »

Same here! I find twists to be much quicker and easier to work with than braids. I use oil with a bit of water for the detangling/prepoo. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes, wash, and style. I do 4-8 twists.


I have the exact routine for my hair. The only difference is the oil used: my preference is a grapeseed/sweet almond/ jojoba oil mix. If I need it I’ll use a protein conditioner after shampooing (Aphogee Two Minute Reconstructor or AO GPB).


You forgot about twists. Thats what I do. I put it in 10 twists that i can unravel, detangle and retwist. I find it a quicker than the braids.


I like twists too. I have type 4 hair (highly coiled, high shrinkage) but with the first method my scalp doesn’t really get clean. I have to let it loose by sections and twists are definitely the fastest way to do it. Really important step is using a diluted shampoo/conditioner, though (I think that was mentioned in the first video).


I used to wash my hair in twists, but my hair is so thick that I’d need too many twists, or they would come undone. The braids are easier and faster for me now. But I’ll do a twistout more often than I’ll do a braidout.


Very helpful! I still wonder how people think (or suggest)that they (you) can wash their hair with shampoo only touching their scalp and not the rest of their hair?


I think what you are refering to is the lathering of shampoo on the scalp and allowing the suds and rinse off to clense the stands as the shampoo comes out, instead of putting shampoo in strands and mushing it around like in the old herbal essences commercials


Thanks Tam. That is what I’m referring to. Regardless, it seems as though it’s really hard to avoid getting shampoo on the strands of your hair. I always wondered how that worked 🙂


This was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo helpful! I need a tutorial on how to do this. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it the right way, but from this, I wasn’t too far off. This actually makes since in the way that it will cut down on my process – section to style, detangle, wash/cowash, tshirt/towel dry, conditioner, sealant, and DONE (if one chooses to stop there – me!)!!!

This tutorial will redefine my whole regimen which is great!


Oh, I’m not even a one-year natural, with about 4-4 and a half inches of hair and section washing STILL saves my life! I can only imagine how wash day would be without it *shudders*. After sectioning my hair in 6 sections, I detangle each section and break it down into either 2 or 4 twists. I then proceed to wash and/or deep condition with those 16 twists, only taking them loose during the rinse process to thoroughly rinse out the product, then promptly putting them back in twists. I then proceed to style as I wish after putting in… Read more »
Good article with nice visuals. I have thin very tight small kinky coils( A.K.A nappy, no curl definition)that I wash in only two sections using clips or lose pony tail holders and then divide into 6 large twists as I rinse out my shampoo. With thin hair braids take too long to unravel because no matter how big I braid the hair they end up smallish and not thick and juicy like. So what I do is soak one half of my hair loose, lather up with shampoo concentrating on the scalp and being sure to keep the hair streched… Read more »

Me too, before the pre poo treatment, i detangle my hair in 4 twists, then in the shower i do 2 twist concentrating on one at a time and also use the force of the shower head to help me detangle with my fingers, really reduces breakage.

I ordered the aubrey organics honeysuckle rose conditioner from the usa to switzerland and i can really see the difference for detangling my wet hair but still little knots with my curls because the ends are reminiscents of relaxed hair.


Thank you, you amazing ladies from blackgirlonghair, i was secretly hoping for a post about washing sections because i started to doing it. I don’t know if it’s normal because of my transition (not big chop), but sometimes my 3inches of curly hair tends to get knots (less when i dry my hair with a tee-shirt), so sometimes it’s difficult but its okay it’s growing in healthy state and expecting a bsl if i keep on being gentle.
THANKS TO YOU i learn to take care of my hair and i love it, it’s trully exciting :)))