At this point in my natural hair journey, I’m certain of three things:

  • I suck at doing twist-outs.
  • I can henna my hair in my sleep.
  • I have pretty much mastered the wash and go.

Even though I’ve practically got my wash and go down to a science (a super science, thanks to my new diffuser), sometimes soft, bouncy curls and coils will elude me. Typically, I can pinpoint the culprit — a wack conditioner that didn’t prime my hair for styling, a wack product that zapped the life from my hair, or me being wack in how I applied it. Sometimes, it’s a combination of 2 or all 3. The wash and go game is all about trial and error and I’m here to present to you 4 common wash and go woes that I’ve experienced, and how I’ve fixed them to avoid the excessive manipulation that comes with washing and starting again from scratch (although sometimes that is necessary…if a product is THAT bad).

Wash and Go Woe #1: Flaky Products

It has happened to me on several occasions: I find a curl definer I’m really excited about, and even my “test patch” goes well. But somewhere between wishful thinking and overzealous application of product, my hair looks great while wet but once dry — it looks dull, whitish, and my shoulders look like polar ice caps.

The Fix: All hope isn’t lost. As a temporary fix, section your hair and grab your favorite oil. Work enough oil (usually a nickle sized amount will do depending on the length and thickness of your hair) through each section, and it should banish enough of the flakes to get you through the next few days until it is time to wash. Whatever you do, don’t add more product, or any type of conditioner, moisturizer, lotion, hair milk — none of that. It will only exacerbate the problem. Oh, and avoid dark colored shirts until you wash again 🙂

Wash and Go Woe #2: Dry as the Desert

Your product says it won’t dry your hair out, and you double-check the label for drying alcohols and other no-no ingredients. It looks good, is nice and slippy, and feels like silk when it goes on your hair. But two hours later, your hair could justifiably be mistaken for a tumbleweed.

The Fix:  Did you add a layer of moisture under your curl definer? If not, now’s the time. If you did, grab a spray bottle of water, and whatever leave-in and moisturizer you used underneath the product that dried your hair out. In sections, gently spritz (to make the hair more workable) with water, apply a small amount of leave-in, and moisturizer on top. Before going all willy-nilly with product, do a small test patch to make sure you won’t get white balls and flakes that send you back up to problem #1. After applying all 3 layers of moisture, lightly seal with your oil of choice. That should hold you a few days.

Wash and Go Woe #3: The Fuzzies

Maybe you forgot to pineapple before bedtime, or you got the itchies and massaged your scalp to hard. Or if you’re like me, you started playing in your hair before it was fully dry. Whatever the cause, you’ve now got the fuzzies, and it’s looking like you should abandon all wash and go hope and opt for a bun.

The Fix: Don’t bring out the bun yet! There’s a neat little fix that will completely flip your wash and go. For hair that is generally fuzzy, take the front/center section of your hair and do it over. Seriously. Wash it, condition it, and apply product to it. Use a blow dryer or diffuser to expedient the drying process and lay it over the rest of the frizz. As an added bonus, add a little slickness around the edges with an edge control product (like Curls Passion Fruit Curl Control Paste) or a butter blend. It’s the same concept as redoing the top few rows of braids or twists — camouflaging the mess with a perfectly manicured perimeter.

Wash and Go Woe #4: Soul Glo Greasy

At some point, I really do need to accept that styling products with humectants high up on the list are a no-go for me. Yes, the moisture is amazing. But in then end, my hair is sticky and perpetually shrunken for days. The same goes for stir-crazy application of heavy oils and butters. Weighed down, stringy hair and grease spots on every thing I touch is what happens whenever my wash and go is too sticky or oily.

The Fix: Alcohol — in the form of a holding or styling spray. Before you x out of this article or leave me a crazy comment, hear me out. Greasy or sticky shrunken hair has too much moisture, or a product that draws in or retains too much moisture. Your hair may be nice and shiny, but do you really want to have to wash your hands every 20 minutes because you accidentally touched your hair? Sprays that contain alcohol will help suck up the excess moisture and oil — which is why natural and transitioning ladies are told to avoid them. Under normal circumstances, alcohol-laden sprays will dry out the hair and cause breakage. But to temporarily fix your sticky situation, they’re perfect. My go-to spray that sucks up just enough moisture without leaving my hair feeling dry, brittle, or hard is the Ouidad Flexible Hold Spray — although I’m almost certain this is not the intended purpose for this product.

What other wash and go woes have you encountered? Let’s help each other out!

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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11 Comments on "4 Easy Fixes for Common Wash and Go Problems"

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reese

Great article!!! The info you provide is sooo helpful and your writing is superb! Keep em coming! 🙂

smarie

Thanks for this. I think the best fix for people that think they can’t do a Wash & Go is a good haircut. Wash and Go’s look great on all textures and just take a bit of finesse with products to make them work.

Miss Mo

Lmaooooooo, you funny as hell Smarie

Cygnet
I describe my hair as variable curly. It has variably-sized S curves in front with coils in the lower back and nape. I don’t try to type it, but my sister thinks it’s 4C. I’m finally able to stretch the sides down to the top of my armpit while holding my head straight and my shoulders neutral. I’ve been wet styling–If I described my regimen, I think most of you would call it a wash & go–since this past September in practice of a regimen based on the Curly Girl method. Climbing the learning curve has been interesting. Currently, I… Read more »
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maiara

wash n go ain’t working for me, my 4b hair shrunks and frizzles a lot, the shrunkness wouldn’t be a problem if it a least looked cute, but it looks terible. (sorry my english, I’m brazilian)

Dananana

Your shrinkage is beautiful, maiara. I know because I have never seen ugly shrinkage 😛 But, having a lot of fine 4B/C hair myself, I understand why you wouldn’t like wash and gos. My hair shrinks about 85% of its length, and I have yet to find a wash and go method that doesn’t leave me with knots galore and/or breakage 🙁

Dananana

Addendum: It’s a shame that I haven’t, because I would really love to be able to actually wash and go!

LBell
Re 1: Even though I’ve got my staples down I still have a few items in the stash that I haven’t gotten rid of yet. Trying some of those last month resulted in a flaky situation. However, since I’ve been using my blow-dryer and the tension method to add stretch, I found that the air blew the flakes away…or at least made them less noticeable. Re 3: I’m a 4b…fuzzies come with the territory. 🙂 That said, I recently tried layering oil over my styler using the praying hands technique and that reduced a good deal of fuzz. Re 4:… Read more »
Jacky
Lovely, i loved it! Thanks Christina and thanks BGLH for posting. I’ve had that sticky wash n go problem from a gel that i used. The curls were great but also a no-go, no-touch area. When i saw your solution( Alcohol ), i was a bit confused but not gonna attack you or anything like that but after i read through the rest of the article, i think it’s reasonable. I think i may purchase a product that has alcohol in it, otherwise I’m stuck with a gel that i wanna use but can’t because of the sticky mess that… Read more »
darkchildlovethyhair

Very helpful post. I know the tips will come in handy as I am now ready to start experimenting with different styles (leaving the awkward stage behind). Thanks Christina 🙂

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