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Photo Credit: Going-Natural.com

In the first year of being natural, wash and gos were easy and my go to style. They really make sense for shorter hair as they require far less manipulation than any other style (including protective styles) at that hair length.

The final look that you get with a wash and go is heavily reliant on your curl pattern. Hair products can only accentuate what is already there. You may have seen youtube videos where hair goes from an undefined afro to orderly curls but do not be fooled that your hair can do the same. The truth is if you brush out any form of curly hair or indeed back comb straight hair, you do end up with an afro. However, some hair cannot genuinely ever really form ordered curls.

To showcase the spectrum of wash and go appearances, here are 3 general looks that you can expect. I have intentionally selected videos where the ladies have shorter hair as this length showcases curl patterns quite beautifully.

1. Hair that generally does not form ordered curls

Pearls of wisdom: My styling skills definitely need polishing, did you notice how she expertly creates fairly straight parts with her fingers alone? She also talks about accessorizing with hair clips or earrings. These are great tools for styling a natural wash and go.

2. Hair that naturally curls

Pearls of wisdom: She uses plenty of moisturizing products from curl activator and a water/glycerin mix. Notice how easy it is for her hair to form and retain the curl pattern without much prompting and also note her unique technique to reduce frizz. Finally, notice how she gently uses a comb to give her hair volume without breaking the curl pattern.

3.Hair that needs coiling to curl

Pearls of wisdom: I liked this video because her hair is actually a hybrid or 1 and 2. It almost looks like hair that does not generally form a curl but with a little encouragement with twirling, you do get a curl. In general, you will not be able to finger comb exclusively with this hair, the hair will generally be able to clump after combing or brushing.

4B and 4C ladies have you attempted wash and go’s? How did you handle the curl definition aspect?

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64 Comments on "Wash and Go’s for 4B and 4C Hair"

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Adrirnne
I have 4C/4B hair… I had the same frustration with my hair having no curl definition. Just about a week ago I saw a link on the TeamNatural Facebook page about the “Anthony Dickey” method for washing natural hair. 4C hair is naturally drier and easy to break so I do this every 2-3 days. Water is my hair’s best friend. After I tried this method … I’m happy to say I have a hair style I can just get out of the shower and go with! So don’t believe the hype about us 4C and 4B naturals having to… Read more »
kai

How do you/ want products do you use to define 4c curls….getting tired of braid outs, twist outs, Bantu knots,etc

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Renee Perry

I need help! What kind of hair do I have? All I know is I have curls but my hair is so thick that its hard to see them! They are deep down under all the thickness! UGH! I don’t know what to use! My hair eats OIL!!!!

shanae

you most likely have a 4a hair pattern, that definitely describes my hair also.

Lizzie
I like the wash-n-go look for my hair even though it’s not a TWA anymore (and I love my shrinkage). The only issue is my curl pattern on top is wavy while the middle is more compact and the back has ringlets! Thankfully curl activators do help give me a more unified curl pattern. I usually wear my hair in small two strand twists to give me more curls when I take them down or spritz them and get ringlets. But now when my hair is loose and I wash it, I’ll still have a ringlet shape at the end… Read more »
Miya
I’m relaxed but I naturally have 4C hair and my sister is natural with the same hair texture. I’ve realized that water-based moisturizes do not help at all. Any drop of water shrinks her hair so putting on that moisturizer shrinks it and makes it dry all over again and ultimately tangled. Products with soft water like Taliah Waajid (I think that’s how it’s spelled) stretches her hair but doesn’t last long. I used to wonder why naturals would say “I don’t mind getting my hair wet” because I’d rather get my hair wet, relaxed than natural in the rain!… Read more »
Bri

[the last vid] This is exactly why we need a hair typing system. Got all these Sistahs confused when their hair doesn’t curl. What a shame. This hair is not curly.
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Rho

All black hair is curly, just a different kind of curl… a coil. Whatever term you choose to use its the same thing. If you pull out a strand of hair, it is coily. The expectation of results is obviously not the same. But curly it is!

Cynthia

I agree with you… Hair typing can get a bit crazy, but yeah, it’s kind of helpful at times, and yes, you do have a point!! right, Ladies??

Monique

Forgot to add I have 4a/4b hair.

mo

My name is Monique too

Monique

JUST A TIP..for those who wear wash and go’s and are concerned with the tangles or knots that they might get or do get. I did a wash and go for the first time a few days ago…first time in maybe years. Surprisingly I don’t have any knots or tangles what I do every night is divide my hair in two sections ( a low pony tail on each side) and band each section loosely making sure not to band it to tight to prevent breakage.

LaNeshe

Since today is the first really warm day of the year I opted for a wash and go. I probably do 5 wash and gos a year at most. My hair has really tight curls/coils. I used Karen’s Body Beautiful leave in and KCCC with nice results. I do have more tangles with wash and goes than stretched styles, which is why I don’t do it too often.

Destiny
So much banter and back and forth! do what suits you! Despite all the arguments against wng for 4 hair, I tried it anyways, and found that it really worked for me, especially when I got my oil balance right. I actually discovered that the constant stretching that type 4 hair people always champoin was actually ruining my curl pattern. For all those ladies and men who believe that a wng don’t work consider your everyday regimen, do you keep it stretched all the time? Your hair is probrabably overstretched, so it wouldn’t look good in a wng unless you… Read more »
Kayla

Since when did a wash n go become wash and go and curl? Nothing in the name implies that you have to have or define a curl pattern or whatever, so why is that now a requirement? A wash and go should be simple: wash and go. Of course, your hair should be moisturized and well kept, but that’s a requirement for a healthy hair regime, not the style. Let’s keep it simple. All of this is too much.

danielle

I like wash and gos because I’m lazy. I dont bother with the twisting, raking, coiling, or whatever other techniques are out there.. I have started learning to flat twist though, but I’m not a fan of the stretched look. Perhaps because my hair is still short

Caramelcurls

As a 4a/b natural, I personally have no desire to do wash and goes. I prefer to keep my hair stretched via a braid out. I wash and condition my hair every 2 weeks and braid it every other night. I don’t use direct heat. I’ve been natural for about a year and a half and my hair is growing, healthy, and happy. I would not want to deal with leaving the house with my hair wet or the knots and tangles often associated with wash and goes. I say do what works for your hair!

LBell
The WNG in its literal sense — where it’s not so much about curl definition as it is about having the freedom, after years of relaxers and all that implies, to literally just wash and go — is what made me first fall in love with my TWA. In all the years I’ve been natural I’ve BC’d five times, including the original BC. For the first four of those times, I’d be a happy camper for the first 6-8 months or so because my hair regimen would be a piece of cake. Past 4 inches it was no longer enough… Read more »
Rain

My whole twa stage was a wash’n’go so I had my fill and enjoyed it but the tangles are not worth the price of a cute hairstyle that may not last long…

Grey Poupon

Lol @ wash n go 4b hair. As if! My hair would be a matter mess.

Cami

My wash n go with no product. Excuse my face I’m not wearing make-up either. lol
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efa

your hair is the cutest!!! i am in envy with your wash n go it looks so lush!!

Cami

Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

LaNeshe

So cute!

Cami

Thank You ๐Ÿ™‚

Tisha
I wore a wash and go few months ago b/c my scalp was so dirty that I couldn’t take it anymore. It was morning and I had to go to work. So I co-washed, than I added some gel by using 4 big sections.It took me 10 minutes. The results were cute and it was fun having my hair stand straight up for a few days. I had approx. 10 inches of hair at that time. Just b/c I don’t have elongated curls, doesn’t mean a wash n go is impossible for me. It is not the “privilege” of only… Read more »
jungfrau1010
I rocked wash & go for the 1st year or so of being a new natural with a TWA. It was fun & I felt super flyyyy with it. I worked the Kinky curly knot Today & Kinky curly curling custard thru it in sections from root to tip daily, shampooing daily to refresh it. My hair is very thick and I did not get any curl definition but since I was not on any healthy hair journey or aware that You Tube and an online community of natural hair mavens existed, I never had that expectation & was fine… Read more »
LM

I love how defined my curls look and how big and voluptuous my fro is after a wash n go with shea moisture and eco styler gel, using the raking method with my fingers. However, the tangles and knots that come with it are despicable lol. After a few days of wearing a wash n go, I can count on having to detangle my hair over a course of a couple of days smh. If I ever try a wash n go again (maybe this summer), I will try twisting my hair nightly to stretch the curls and minimize tangles.

efa
you know what really helps disoslve tangles after a wash n go? oil. after i wash and go if my hair is tangly i drench my head with water, no condishioner. then i section it into workable parts and cover the section im detangling in oil. it is the best detangler ever and has slip like you would not believe. hopefully that helps when you wash n go this summer.!! ๐Ÿ™‚ (also i dont use combs so it would be easy breezy if you use a comb to detangle and i have 4a/3c hybrid on my hair if that matters… Read more »
Tabatha

I have tried the wash and curl with my hair and I didn’t like it. It was too matted to my head and I couldn’t get it to look like anything that looked like I even groomed my hair in any fashion. So Wash in go is not for me at this moment. Things may change in the future you never know.

shelikes
to video number 3 – you asked a good question. i spent years and years damaging my hair hair follicles and scalp with heat, relaxer, etc., then as i tried to grow it out naturally, i labeled my hair as coarse. it WAS just like yours. well, i had spent most of my life damaging it, so of course it was coarse. it was not naturally coarse, because prior to the damage, ie at 1-5 yrs of age, it was thick but kind of soft. my mother was lazy and didnt want to be bothered with combing and platting, plus… Read more »
juanita617

That was a “feel good” message. Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lurie
I’ve never been able to do a wash and go beyond what you see in that picture. My wash-n-gos are really wash-n-Fros. I love wearing a big nappy Afro so I’m ok with that. But I have to braid up my Afro at night so that it is manageable the next day. So the “go” or the simplicity part of a “wash n go” doesn’t really apply to my 4C hair. It’s important to set expectations – our 4C hair can do things other types can’t and vice versa. So long as you love the hair you have, you are… Read more »
gapch

i think your hair is gorgeous. it rocks. but i think the confusion is many people image of a “wash and go” is really “wash and hair will flow.”

as this article points out everyone hair is different. many people just have learned to accept the fact that their hair is a “wash and fro.” instead they do all sort of manipulation and styling techniques to get the “wash and hair will flow” appearance. to each its own

lilkunta

@ Lurie : AMEN and THANK YOU. I have 4d 4e 5a hair. I cant do a wash & go bc the end coil so badly. I wash condition then quickly plait it. I can only do my hair wet bc dry it is clump and I hear it snap and break as the comb moves through ut.

silkynaps

your hair is so pretty!

Lurie

Thank you!

caribbeancurl

How do you get the hair to be so uniformed all around? Do you still have to manipulate (pat some areas, tug some areas) because when i simply wash and allow to air dry, its lumpy as cereal, not all rounded.

caribbeancurl

oh and how do u take care of the tangles, if any, when u want another style? IS it an automatic trip back to the shower?

Deb

i mean curls/coils are cool but some people focus waaaaaaaaaaay too much on making their “curls pop”. We all know that for most people there’s some deeper reason than just preference. Our hair is so versatile, enjoy it’s versatility!

I’m not saying this article or the women in the videos are like that (I’m not inside their heads) just speaking in general.

efa
i completly agree. idk when i wash and go its legit because i have no time to do my hair so i wash it dry it throw in some leave in and something to seal and leave. my hair is naturally clumps alot so i dont use gel to “define and hold” them because idk i dont care? when i see people using half a tub of eco styler to “define” a curl im like whats the point. also ur going to need to wash tomorrow because of the product all over ur hair. idk i like to keep it… Read more »
Lorraine
Well stated, Deb! One of the deeper reasons being that some Black naturals defining their curls want to appear “biracial” or like they have “good hair.” Just being real. When I saw YouTube videos of Black women doing that, that’s instantly what I thought. I also don’t like when people compliment naturals who have every curl defined and don’t compliment the sistas with the twist-outs or the big puffy Solange Knowles hair. Thing is, defining your curls is great, it’s a valid part of the natural hair movement, defined wash and go’s have helped a lot of women stay natural… Read more »
gapch

i was with you until the second paragraph. how is longing for defined curls and using manipulation techniques any different than using twist outs to force a pattern of hair or texture thats different than what he she natural have. twist outs are the most population manipulation/ defining technique. if you wouldve limited your argument to “afro” instead of “afro and twist out” i wouldve been with you

Cami
I agree and also disagree. I agree that curl deffinition/obssession is whack, but as you can see from my post below I can wash and go without heavy gels, creams, or pomades. I DO NOT rake, shingle, or shilackle my hair. When I step out of the shower I wrap my hair in t-shirt to absorb the extra moisture then shake my hair and let it fall where it wants. Some textures clump on their own. What would be detrimental for my hair would be picking it out into an afro or puff. On top of that, picking and fluffing… Read more »
Lorraine

LOL! “Shilackle my hair.” I agree on the major manipulation point.

Dananana

I wish I would have seen this when I was newly natural, it would have been so helpful to my self-esteem! Great article.

Vonnie

Lol I have not been able to do “wash & go’s” since I had a TWA, and to try now, with all the finger-raking with product and such, is not worth my time. Besides now that my hair is longer wearing my hair out is a no-go for length retention. I have 4c hair.

Lorraine
My daughter has very thick 4b hair and while she looks pretty with wash and go’s, her hair at 12 inches is too long for her to wear them often. She gets horrible tangles and it takes forever as you said, Vonnie, to do all that raking and defining of each curl with gel to achieve the wash and go. I have 3c/4a hair and I don’t feel like doing all of that on a regular basis. And don’t skip a session whether you want do it weekly or every three days! 4a hair almost feels dreadloocked. Medium-sized braids, twists,… Read more »
G

I thought the purpose of a wash n go is to showcase your curls, waves & coils. MOST not all 4b/4a naturals dont have curls, waves and coils so they usually dont do wng.

Nubiahbella

I find it insane when people put so much limitations on their hair because they think only one look is acceptable for some hairstyles. We still have a long way to go.

People across races with various hair texture have been wash and going as it’s really a simple (and convenient) hairstyle.

Finally,What some call (4b,4a,4c, nappy, kinky etcc…. ) IS indeed curly hair, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t shrink up!

Jo Somebody

Zig-zaggy/non-curly/kinky hair will shrink up too, in the same way an accordion works.

Barbara

I wouldn’t say wash n go’s “purpose” is to showcase curls BUT that seems to be the case for LOTS and LOTS of women even if it means using half a jar of gel to get “curls to pop”.

I’m 4b/4a and wash and literally go-no gel, no shingling, no trying to define curls, just pick it out with some oil and go.

Kade

I have 3c 4a as well as 4b and 4c ALL of which CURL is someway or another!!! I don’t understand why people say 4c hair doesn’t have a curl pattern because I have noticed that I have a smaller curl pattern on my head of which isnt my 4b curls/coils…AND on that note I don’t think 4b zigzags…AHHH!! to be honest the whole hair typing system is a mess!!

juanita617

I’m glad you said that because to be honest, I’ve never seen anyone with zigzag hair. I’m still transitioning but I know I have 4c hair but because I can see a curl pattern I now think it’s 4b. I can see some seeing zigzags once it’s combed out and stretched out. Idk…interesting point though.

gapch

just because you havent seen it doesnt mean it doesnt exist. there are those who hair doesnt coil or curl it takes on a z pattern.

Mel

A wash and go is supposed to be a low maintenance style. Not necessarily to showcase “curls, waves, and coils”, ANYONE can do a wash and go….SMFH I think most people with 4a and 4b hair choose not to do wash and go’s because of tangles and knots, not because of lack of “coils”.

gapch

i think most people with that texture dont do wash and gos because if they simply wash and go they have a fro… which they havent embraced and are instead chasing a loose curl or wave pattern that they can only get from twist outs, braid outs, henna treatments and the such…

until they learn to accept a wash and go for what it is they wont do it…

LaNeshe

I AGREE! Everyone can do a wash and go, but people who think it doesn’t “work” for them are looking for their hair to hang or do something unnatural. 4b and 4c unless very long will not hang like the wash and goes of other curl types.

gapch

a few tangles are natural. rock that fro

Lillian Mae

RE: I think most people with 4a and 4b hair choose not to do wash and goโ€™s because of tangles and knots, not because of lack of โ€œcoilsโ€.

This is exactly why I would never wear a wng!

Mia

I have 4a hair and all I do is wash n go’s.The key is MOISTURE INTENSE products…I really dont have troubles with tangles and knots because of the products I use.

Tashi

What Products do you use?

Chanelle Indigofera, Beauty Expert

You are right all curl patterns unique. It is important not to obsess over curls. Love your coils and kinks. See how I create texture for my model’s thick coily hair in this video http://indigoferabeauty.blogspot.com/2013/01/natural-hair-styling-tutorial-loose.html
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