The mission you are about to undertake is not for the faint of heart. Those natural haired veterans who transitioned and joined this natural haired platoon long before you will reiterate that this aspect of your hair journey will, at the best of times, fill you with cold dread and have you losing hope in all that is good in this world. However, should you persevere and be patient over time you will acquire a patience and dexterity you did not know you possessed when it comes to washing your natural hair.
A luta continua,
Major-General VimfromZim, Your Sister in The Natural Hair Trenches
In case you missed it, wash day is one of my least favourite activities. It’s almost (almost) as bad as Ironing *shudders*. But what can you do, clean hair and a clean scalp are non-negotiable so we grin and bear it.
Before I continue, let me issue my standard disclaimer that the methods and tips I offer here are what work for me. This natural hair business is not an exact science, so use it or lose it – it’s really up to you chickens.
What’s My Wash Day Routine?
I have 2 wash day routines that I hereby dub the Deluxe Edition and the Quickie Edition. The former routine involves the works (or a variation of it) – pre-poo, shampoo, conditioner & deep conditioner – and the latter routine is basically just co-washing – washing my hair with conditioner.
In terms of how often I do either…well, that’s not written in stone either. In a perfect world I would perform the Deluxe Edition on my head every second week and the Quickie Edition every other week. Nevertheless, life then happens and I find myself in needing of a clean scalp after a demanding mid-week workout so co-washing ensues. Sometimes my scalp flakes up more than normal (I have a mild case of psoriasis on my hairline) or my hair feels crunchy with product so medicated/normal shampooing happens.
PS: It’s worth mentioning that shampooing has a rather drying effect on all hair types, not just natural hair (even the sulphate-free ones, which you should be using) so I try to limit the use of it to twice a month and ensure I deep-condition my hair at least twice a month too, to counter the drying effects.
Oh and before I forget too, when co-washing I make sure to keep the conditioner only on my hair and off my scalp, instead I rinse my hair forever before co-washing (to remove sweat etc) and rinse out excess conditioner with a super diluted apple cider vinegar rinse after co-washing. My scalp gets super agitated when any conditioner is left on it.
My Wash Day Survival Kit
- A killer playlist: in the beginning wash day could take forever so make sure you’ve got a little Notorious B.I.G/Taylor Swift/James Bay/Anita Baker to get you through the worst of it.
- Pre-poo: I drench my hair in Olive Oil and use it finger detangle my hair prior to shampooing.
- Shampoo: Aim for the sulphate-free variety
- Conditioner: The creamy silicone-free kind like Tressemme Naturals Conditioner for Dry Hair.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse: Mixture that is 1 part ACV & 5 parts water.
- Deep Conditioner: Can use a homemade mixture or store bought one.
- Leave-in Conditioner: Water should be the first ingredient on the label.
- Shea Butter: Or whatever your sealing oil preference is.
- Wide Toothed Comb
- Water Spritzing Bottle
How Does It All Work?
- I ALWAYS pre-poo/shampoo/condition my hair while it’s in sections. I split all my hair into 6 – 8 sections (3 or 4 on each side) that I keep braided up during all processes. This avoids my hair tangling up on itself and lessens the amount of breakage that occurs.
- I only comb through my hair when I have a wide toothed comb AND my hair is wet or drenched in conditioner. Don’t EVER comb your hair while it’s bone dry unless you want to invite unnecessary breakage into your life.
Tjo, I am tired just from writing this piece, but that about covers my wash day regimen. I know it sounds like a lot to think about and do but I have now got each routine down to 20 – 30 minutes tops (that’s if I skip the pre-pooing and deep conditioning bits of the Deluxe Edition, that are time consuming elements).
I would love to hear what you do differently or any tips you have that I have failed to mention in my wash day thesis above
Catch you in the comments,
Washing and conditioning my hair is definitely a process. Because my hair is so thick it takes a while to detangle all of it.
Hey Corliss,that why washing your hair while it is braided up in sections is the biggest time saver and a great way to keep your hair detangled.
YouTube has tonnes of videos of natural hair vloggers using the technique, definitely look it up ☺
Thanks I will look into that.
I’ve been reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah this last week, and between your blog and that novel, I’m learning ALL about natural hair care. Wow, girl, I had NO idea.
When I stopped relaxing my hair almost 3 years ago to start on this natural hair journey, girl I had no idea either. Thankfully, over time, the things that took forever take much less time. It is a process though…Chimamanda herself can testify to that, lol.
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