For many if not most women with nat­ur­al hair, the day of dread is wash day. It is the day that you have to deal with detan­gling, wet hair, shrink­age and of course styling. How­ev­er, your wash day is a cru­cial part of main­tain­ing clean hair and pre­vent­ing tan­gling and mat­ting. The end sto­ry is that you can­not avoid this day and there­fore the only ratio­nal thing to do is to cre­ate rou­tines that will make it more tol­er­a­ble or dare I say.……enjoyable.

1. Rules.….What Rules?

Here on BGLH, I often read com­ments about why is it that writ­ers offer vary­ing advice, why can we not just agree on meth­ods or pro­ce­dures and why are we always switch­ing the rules? The answer is sim­ple, there were nev­er any rules to begin with. Nat­ur­al hair is diverse mean­ing we have dif­fer­ent

  • -curl or coil sizes
  • -indi­vid­ual strand thick­ness
  • -over­all hair den­si­ty
  • -hair response to dam­age
  • -shrink­age and uptake of water

These five fac­tors will deter­mine how your hair behaves on wash day when it is wet and also how it will respond to a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct. There­fore, if you require a hair rule, then it should be fol­low what your hair is telling you to do. If you can wash your hair free, do it; if you need to twist or braid it to wash it, then do that instead. If you have to fin­ger detan­gle exclu­sive­ly, do it; if you pre­fer to comb or brush your hair in addi­tion, then do that instead. If pre poos are too time con­sum­ing for you, skip them; if you find them vital to main­tain­ing your hair, do them. Do not try to fol­low some­one else’s guide, make your own rules for your hair.

2. Hair is very pre­dictable, expect the same results every time

If your hair takes 6 hours to dry, it will not sud­den­ly tak­ing 3 hours if you do not change tech­niques. If your hair shrinks and tan­gles tight­ly when washed wet and free, this will not change over time. If your hair forms clumped curls when con­di­tion­er combed but frizzes up with dry brush­ing or humid­i­ty changes, again, this will not change. Accept your hair for what it is and not what you want it to be.

If you change how you han­dle your hair e.g mak­ing it dry faster by air dry­ing in curl­form­ers, pre braid­ing hair instead of wash­ing free to reduce tan­gling and shrink­age or find­ing a good hold­ing prod­uct for clumped curls, you can get a dif­fer­ent but still pre­dictable result You should place your empha­sis first on tech­niques that help you dur­ing wash day. These are more valu­able and effec­tive than search­ing for a hair prod­uct to com­bat com­mon prob­lems such as tan­gling or knot­ting dur­ing the wash, dif­fi­cul­ty in comb­ing or high lev­els of shrink­age.

3. Stop con­fus­ing tex­ture for dry­ness

We have all heard the term ‘bril­lo pad hair’. This is in my view one of the clear­est exam­ples of con­fus­ing tex­ture for dry­ness. High shrink­age hair is par­tic­u­lar­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to form­ing tight coils with­in hours of being fresh­ly washed and con­di­tioned. This hair is actu­al­ly mois­turised and not dry at all but by virtue of being left to shrink, feels extreme­ly dry and brit­tle. The same hair will feel mois­turised if air dried in a stretch­ing method such as African thread­ing, curl for­m­ers, twists or braids. In fact, even dry­ing the hair out fur­ther with a blow dry­er will pro­duce hair that ‘feels’ more mois­turised, although it is real­ly not. Blow dried hair is actu­al­ly dri­er inter­nal­ly than air dried hair but the smooth­ness of the strand (lack of coils and kinks) con­fus­es some nat­u­rals who think it feels soft­er and mois­turised.

In short, dry hair and tex­ture are two sep­a­rate things. It is a skill that we all devel­op in time to under­stand how our hair feels when mois­turised and sec­ond­ly how often we need to add mois­ture.

4. Tri­al and error is the name of the game.

Find­ing the tech­niques and prod­ucts to help main­tain your hair is all about tri­al and error. There is no set for­mu­la that I as a sci­en­tist can give to you. There is no set for­mu­la that a blog­ger, youtu­ber or hair­styl­ist can give to you. You have to exper­i­ment and find what works and what does not. Addi­tion­al­ly, exper­i­ment­ing is going to last for as long as you have hair. Some prod­ucts may stop work­ing for you and you have to try oth­ers. Your hair will grow longer and you have to cater to what­ev­er it will be doing at the longer length (e.g tan­gling more, devel­op­ing more hang, curl­ing less etc).

Ladies, have you fig­ured out your wash day rou­tine? What is your process?

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27 Comments on "4 Tips for Figuring Out Your Wash Day Routine"

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[…] five fac­tors by BGLH will deter­mine how your hair behaves on wash day when it is wet and also how it will respond to a […]

Wash day is tonight ? I pre­poo with cas­tor oil, olive oil and coconut oil. Either all three or a com­bi­na­tion of 2. Leave it on for about half an hour under a show­er cap. Then I use a sul­phate-free sham­poo Then I detan­gle with Treseme nat­u­rals con­di­tion­er Then I deep con­di­tion (always mois­ture, nev­er pro­tein – my hair hates pro­tein) And final­ly I leave it to air dry til it’s damp and then apply Aussie mir­a­cle moist and seal with a mix­ture of shea but­ter, cas­tor oil and jojo­ba oil.  Then I braid it in 6 braids and let it dry which… Read more »

How do you all Feel about wash­ing your hair with Black soap? yes or no?

My wash rou­tine is sim­ple as well. 1. Sham­poo every oth­er day alter­nat­ing between Ter­ax Miele Hydrat­ing Sham­poo and Philip B Russ­ian Amber Impe­r­i­al Sham­poo. 2. Con­di­tion with a mask or treat­ment alter­nat­ing between Red­ken Smooth Lock But­ter Silk or Joico Mois­ture Recov­ery Balm for ten to fif­teen min­utes while I wash my body. 3. Apply two dol­lops of leave in con­di­tion­er (Cir­cle Of Friends Pia’s Pineap­ple Leave In Con­di­tion­er or Marisol’s Mel­on Leave in Con­di­tion­er) and hair serum ( Matrix Bio­lage Exquis­ite Oil or Alter­na Bam­boo Smooth Ken­di Oil Pure Oil Treat­ment) to the ends.  4. Run through my hair with a… Read more »
Sarah Jankins

My wash rou­tine is sim­ple, and I’ve been fol­low­ing this rou­tine for 2 years.
I do it in 5 easy steps.

1. I wash my hair and skip a day and it does on and on.

2. I always have to use any­thing TRE­sem­mè

3. I don’t con­di­tion every­time I sham­poo. ( I don’t see the need to if my days are not far apart ) 

4. Keep con­di­tion­er inch­es away from roots.

5. Use 3 hand­fuls of sham­poo. ( bad habit ).

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Good post. I had been exam­in­ing fre­quent­ly this kind of weblog with this par­tic­u­lar impressed! Very help­ful info espe­cial­ly a final piece :) My spouse and i deal with like infor­ma­tion and facts a great deal. I’m search­ing for this par­tic­u­lar info for some time. Thank you so much along with best of luck.

Yet anoth­er bril­liant and sen­si­ble post, Jc! Thank you. Hope more new nat­u­rals in par­tic­u­lar read this one… I find that for me, hav­ing longer nat­ur­al hair requires the same kind of wash-day plan­ning that hav­ing relaxed hair (of any length) did. Time needs to be reserved, because there are STEPS involved, lol. My nor­mal process is very sim­i­lar to those men­tioned above: — The night before, fin­ger-detan­gle and de-shed with con­di­tion­er and AVJ and put into large twists — Next day, wash the hair while in twists (if I’m deep-treat­ing I will take the twists out and just use clips… Read more »
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Con­cept num­ber #3 (stop con­fus­ing tex­ture with dry­ness) is on point and should be told to all new nat­u­rals!! I don’t know how many times I hear some new nat­u­rals say that their 4c hair is dry and “nap­py”, and yet they’re wear­ing a shrunk­en wash and go. You must know what your tex­ture is like AND be able to tell when your hair is dry.

Num­ber 4 all day long on this one. I start­ed the no-suds (I hate the term no-poo, it sounds like it involves an ene­ma) lifestyle and my detan­gling ses­sions are now s breezy. Like seri­ous­ly, I used to have hair balls the size of a small bear (which lat­er I learned was not a lot of shed­ding like I thought, but also a lot of break­age) and now they are a quar­ter the size of my fist.  After almost 4 years of being nat­ur­al and liv­ing on every nat­ur­al blog, forum, and youtube, I thought I had tri­al and error-ed every­thing.… Read more »

I most­ly wash my hair with my braids or twists exten­tion every week­ends. I wash with sul­fate free sham­poo and then I put con­di­tion­er. After that when my hair is almost dry, I redo my braids or twists exten­sion (I have a lot of patience by doing that)by putting a leave-in sealed with coconut oil. I detan­gle my hair with my fin­gers.

i am not sure if my hair is incred­i­ble thin or what, because detan­gling has nev­er tak­en me all that much time. my strands are medi­um to coarse, and my lenght is mid-length, 4 a/b/c, i guess, so i dont get what y’all do to detan­gle for hours!. if i use a good con­di­tion­er, one with good slip, my hair kind of detan­gles itself in the show­er, while rins­ing. but, i have a hard time not rinsing/co-washing it too often, i just dont like when my hair gets dull and that is every 1–3 days. and i hate pro­tec­tive styling,… Read more »

Once I real­ized what my hair need­ed, it was easy to cleanse my hair. I look for­ward to wash day!

Great post! 1) I mist my dry, stretched hair with water, apply some con­di­tion­er, & detan­gle (using my fin­gers & fol­low­ing w/ the Tan­gle Wran­gler brush) in chunky sec­tions. I 2-strand twist after detan­gling each indi­vid­ual sec­tion. 2) I rinse & mas­sage my hair & scalp for at least 3 min­utes, then I pro­ceed to sham­poo. 3) After sham­poo­ing, I squeeze the water from my hair, unrav­el each twist, apply deep con­di­tion­er, & re-twist each sec­tion. I place a plas­tic bag over my hair and let the con­di­tion­er absorb for 30 min­utes. Then, I take the plas­tic bag off, let… Read more »

I have been nat­ur­al for over 4 years. I have super dense, kinky, coily, Afro-tex­tured hair.

My wash day rou­tine is:
— sec­tion dry, stretched hair into 10 parts
— fin­ger-detan­gle w/ water/glycerin spritz & coconut oil
— deep con­di­tion (in 10 twists)
— cleanse w/ dilut­ed sham­poo via col­or appli­ca­tor bot­tle (in 10 twists)
— mois­tur­ize, seal ends & stretch (10 braids w/ two-strand twist­ed ends)
— air-dry under a hair tie for 1 day
— style into braid-out, bun or updo

For me its: Fin­ger detan­gle with some oil the day before wash day on wash day I sec­tion my hair into four big pony tails using hair ties or clips. Wet my hair down and wash from root to tip. Rinse. Pat dry and add some con­di­tion­er. If I want a deep treat­ment I cap it and let it do its things for 15–30 min. If not I apply a gen­er­ous amount of con­di­tion­er to each sec­tion, quick­ly fin­ger detan­gle to remove some shed hairs and rinse. Tow­el dry add some leave in and seal with but­ter. Place into big twists… Read more »
Beautiful Male Butt

I have been surf­ing online more than 4 hours today, yet I nev­er found any inter­est­ing arti­cle like yours.
It’s pret­ty worth enough for me. Per­son­al­ly, if all site own­ers and blog­gers made good con­tent as you did, the inter­net will be a lot more use­ful than ever before.

Briana Hicks
I wash my hair by tak­ing sec­tions (any­where between 4 and 8, depend­ing on my mood), sat­u­rat­ing them with a spray bot­tle, then using a con­di­tion­er to detan­gle. I two-strand twist each sec­tion, then rinse the con­di­tion­er out. Some­times It take out my twist to rinse, but some­times I don’t. If I DO take them out, I comb through each sec­tion, add some olive oil, then retwist (like Nap­tural85 does in her Quick Sum­mer Beach Curls Tuto­r­i­al). I let it dry over night, and where my hair like this for 2 or 3 days, keep­ing it stretched by putting it… Read more »

I detan­gle with coconut oil and sep­a­rate in 4 sec­tions the night before. i wash my hair every 2 weeks with creme of nature sham­poo. apply con­di­tion­er out of the show­er. get back in the rinse it out. After that, comb thru with a wide tooth comb. apply my african pride leave in con­di­tion­er and shea but­ter mix. i let my hair air dry and then i style.


My rou­tine is sim­ple six play braids. Wash the scalp, con­di­tion, deep con­di­tion­er with heat cap. Wash out and wrap with old t shirt. Take out braids detan­gle then Ban­tu knot and leave to dry over night.


I cleanse con­di­tion twist

This is a great post. My rou­tine con­sists of dry fin­ger detan­gling a day or two pri­or, then ful­ly wet­ting my hair, care­ful­ly wash­ing with Shea Mois­ture sham­poo, ful­ly con­di­tion­ing with Shea Mois­ture con­di­tion­er (pay­ing lots of atten­tion to the sides of my head and the kitchen), bag­ging with a plas­tic bag (then I wash up and get out) and sec­tion­ing hair to fin­ger detan­gle again. I’ll usu­al­ly seal with olive/avocado oil, coconut/olive/grape seed/avocado/almond oil or the Shea Mois­ture baby oil and twist.  If I want straight hair on rare occa­sions, I’ll either seal, curl in foam curlers, air dry and… Read more »

my rou­tine includes sham­poo­ing my hair once a month… after sham­poo­ing and con­di­tion­ing, comb with a wide-tooth comb… wash out the con­di­tion­er, and add olive oil, or coconut oil…put some twists in to dry and stretch my hair, and bam! there it is… pret­ty sim­ple !


My wash rou­tine has become so easy. I co-wash, detan­gle (under run­ning water) in the show­er with a wide-bris­tle brush. I nev­er tow­el dry; I don’t want to bring fric­tion to my hair. When I get out, I part hair into 2–4 sec­tions, gen­er­ous­ly apply Knot Today leave-in con­di­tion­er and then seal with coconut oil, twist each sec­tion and wear a scarf until it air dries. The next day, I style as I wish.

I hon­est­ly don’t like deal­ing with wet hair and clean-up, so I get sham­pooed and styled twice a month at the salon.

Until last night, I was very anti-fin­ger-detan­gling. I ain’t got time for that! How­ev­er, now that my hair is real­ly start­ing to show some length reten­tion, I want to keep it that way. Every­day, I was sweep­ing up lit­tle coils that popped off my head; so, I switched out all my combs for seam­less bam­boo and rub­ber combs. Still there was no sig­nif­i­cant change. Final­ly, last night, I decid­ed I make the time to fin­ger-detan­gle. I light­ly fin­ger-detan­gled with my shampoo…then real­ly fin­ger-detan­gled with my deep con­di­tion­er. Then this morn­ing, I light­ly fin­ger-detan­gled again as I styled my hair. No combs.… Read more »

What works for me:

1. Deep con­di­tion­ing and detan­gling before wash­ing my hair (saves time and I wont have to jump back into the show­er lat­er)
2. Wash­ing in four sec­tions sep­a­rat­ed with duck clips (using duck clips are faster than twists or braids)

My wash day is so much quick­er and more effec­tive this way than the clas­sic pre­poo-wash in twists-dc rou­tine.

Autumn W.

I agree, I alter­nate between wash­ing in twists or using clips. I find the clips to be a lot faster