black-woman-washing-hair

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 […]

Annie
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… Read more »
Ashley

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

Chachamusicgirl
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… 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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LBell
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… Read more »
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Jesse

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.

Kami
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… Read more »
Jersey

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.

helen
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 »
Dabney

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

cj
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 »
mangomadness

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

JENNID
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… Read more »
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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 »
Rachelle

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.

Jeshika

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.

msboogee

I cleanse condition twist

D.K.
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… Read more »
naturaljamaicanbeauty
naturaljamaicanbeauty

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 !

Renee

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.

silkynaps
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… Read more »
Kayla

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

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