After two months of protective styling, the weather in Los Angeles is finally humid enough to for me to wear my hair out again, and that means rocking my signature wash and go. And by wash and go, I don’t mean the “afro and go” that most stylists associate with the words “wash and go.” I mean a legit wash and go where every curl and coil of your hair is on display, rather than power afros of our parents’ and grandparents’ era. I’m talking
I post these images because a wash and go means different things to different people (and stylists). So, before we jump into things, let’s just clarify that the wash and go we’re after has maximum curl/coil definition. Now that the clarification is out of the way, let’s get started.
1. Wash and deep condition as normal
Make sure you’re starting on clean hair. You’re going to be adding product at the styling stage, so washing your hair first will help prevent product buildup. Deep conditioning is always recommended at each wash session. If your hair is low porosity, make sure to use heat for at least 20 minutes during your deep conditioning session. This will soften your hair and make detangling so much easier later on. And you need detangled hair to properly achieve a wash and go.
As stated, detangling is a necessary step to achieving an awesome wash and go. You’re going to need to spread your styling products from root to tips through your hair, and you can’t do that with a bunch of knots and tangles in your strands. I personally prefer detangling in the shower under running water, but detangle in whatever manner works for you.
3. NO TOWELS. Moisturize and style hair while soaking wet
Once you’re done with with your wash and condition session, you’ll need to prep for styling. This step will vary based on your hair, but generally, you’ll want to avoid using a towel, t-shirt or any other fabric to dry your hair. Your wash and go will work best on wet (not damp) hair. As stated, whether to use a towel depends on your hair. Some people can dry their hair a bit with a towel or t-shirt and achieve awesome styling results. I wish that were me. It would cut my air dry time by so many hours…For me, using fabric to dry my hair is an absolute no. It ruins my curl pattern and my hair’s ability to retain it’s coils. My hair hair has to be soaking, dripping wet when I apply my moisturizer and style. And that’s true for a lot of naturals. Play around with both options to figure out what works for you, but keep hair drying time in mind when you’re planning your wash and go.
4. Section hair and apply moisturizer and styler
The smaller the section the better. Trust me on this one. You’re going to need to slather your hair in product at this stage, and that’s easier to do when your hair is in small sections rather than massive chunks. I usually section my hair into about six sections for detangling, and each of those sections gets separated in half during the styling stage so that my hair gets saturated with product. Lots of clips involved. This is where things get tricky for lo-po naturals. To avoid flakes, you’ll want to go with lighter moisturizers and water-based stylers where possible. I like to apply a light oil or butter (like the Coco-Free Butter) to my hair under the styler to help with moisture retention. The I use an aloe vera gel styler to set my coils.
5. Give your hair a good shake
Another key step. Get in your shower and shake your hair like crazy. This step will help separate your coils and give you crazy definition. So, don’t forget to shake. If you need to, spritz your hair with water or aloe vera juice to give a little more wetness to your hair. The more moist your hair is, the easier it will be to shake out and separate the curls.
6. Use a hooded dryer or blow dryer with a diffuser attachment if available
If you have these items at your disposal, great. After shaking out your hair, a hooded dryer or diffuser will help dry your hair quickly and set your curls in place without disturbing them (i.e. creating frizz) during the drying process. I don’t have either of these tools, so I use my blow dryer to get rid of any excess water. I don’t worry too much about disturbing my coils because it’s not that big of a deal to me. A little frizz never hurt anybody. But I only blow dry to get rid of EXCESS water, not to dry my hair completely. Let your hair air dry as much as possible to avoid any chance of heat damage (or heat training as the stylists like to say these days).
Maintenance will vary based on your hair. Generally, a wash and go is a low-maintenance style that needs to be done about one a week. To maintain hair during the week, spritz your curls with a water-based product (e.g. water or aloe vera juice), shake, and air dry or blow dry. For more porous hair, you may need to spritz and reapply your moisturizer/styler combo.
And that’s about it. I know it seems like a lot of steps, but the process is very simple and relatively quick. I hope this helps anyone out there trying to figure out the wash and go. Let me know what worked for you when you give it a try.
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