Wash and gos. They’re practically the epitome of what it means to be natural—the ability to wear your hair in its natural curl pattern as it grows out of your head, amiright? So why is it so many of us have trouble perfecting the style and our wash and gos seem more like wash and no’s? What if I told you anyone—and yes, I do mean anyone (I’m looking at you, you 4c maven), can achieve a defined, juicy wash and go by fixing 5 common mistakes people make when trying to achieve this style? This post goes into those 5 mistakes and how to fix them so you come away with a clear process for achieving a beautiful, defined wash and go every time.
1. You misunderstand what a wash and go actually is.
When I first started my natural hair journey and heard about the “wash-n-go”, I was super compelled by the idea of literally jumping into the shower, washing and conditioning my hair and jumping right back out. And when I saw the results of several YouTubers with this magical wonder of a style, I was soooo all in. Who’s with me? So imagine my surprise when I actually tried to simply wash my hair and step out of the shower and my hair looked NOTHING like the beautiful curls on these women.
So what is a Wash and Go? Turns out, the name “wash and go” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually a method of styling that is better described as a “wash, condition, deep condition, re-moisturize, rake, gel, dry without messing up your curls” and go. Phew! That was a mouthful.
But let me say that again. It is a STYLE. Which means, yes, you will actually have to take time out of your day to style your hair. The process does not end at washing. The good news, though, is you can use the following tips to make sure your wash and go does not take up the entire wash day.
2. Your hair is dirty.
The internet, unfortunately, is full of misinformation and I have certainly fallen prey to all of the “methods” and “techniques” out there for washing your hair that isn’t actually washing your hair. There’s the conditioner only, water only, and co-wash methods. These kinds of “washes” were all put forward as a way to leave some moisture in our hair, which admittedly is more prone to dryness. But, how many of you have used these methods and then tried a wash-and-go only to have your product sit on top of your hair and your end result is just a bunch of frizz and tangles? Yep, I’ve been there—exuding some real Don King vibes too.
The problem with these methods is that they don’t fully clean your hair (and in some cases, like the water only method, don’t clean your hair at all). The result is the product that built up and coated your strands throughout the week is left behind, blocking the ability of any new product to be absorbed into the hair’s cuticle. This simply does not allow your hair to absorb the products necessary to achieve the desired look.
Instead, using a moisturizing but clarifying shampoo (I like Carol’s Daughter’s Black Vanilla Line) will clean your hair, allow it to retain moisture and allow new products to do what they are meant to do.
3. You forgo the deep conditioner.
In the spirit of the name, I get that it’s tempting to go through the process of a wash and go with as much speed as possible, but skipping a deep conditioner is one thing you don’t want to do. One of the key pillars in maintaining healthy natural hair is moisture and deep conditioning is one of the best ways to infuse moisture into the hair shaft.
Likewise, moisture is also the main pillar of a successful wash and go. Our hair needs to be soaking wet for the style to hold (I know, it’s kind of counterintuitive). Basically, our true curl pattern comes out only with super soaking wet hair. What your trying to achieve with a wash and go is trapping that curl pattern in its most defined state before it dries and the environment or our styling techniques has a chance to cause frizz.
Our hair also needs to remain soft and be easy to detangle. Trust me, you do not want your hair to tangle up before it sets in a wash and go if you ever want to get through another wash day unphased again.
4. You’re not using the right products.
Not all products are created equal. No, I’m not referring to the quality of the products (even though that does matter). I’m talking about using the RIGHT products for your unique hair profile.
Read that again. I did not say the right products for your hair type—I said the right products for your hair profile. While your hair type makes up part of your hair profile, that’s not the only thing you should be taking into consideration when picking products. This is why two naturals who seemingly have the same hair type can come out with vastly different results when they try the same hairstyle and even when they use the same products. The important part is learning about your unique hair profile as that will inform you on the type of products that will work best on your hair for the style you’re trying to achieve. This is true not just for wash and gos, but for twistouts, braidouts, and any natural style you would like to try.
That being said, to achieve a wash and go you’ll need:
- A clarifying, but moisturizing shampoo
- A deep conditioner
- A leave in
- A cream or oil (depending on your hair profile)
- A holding agent (could be a gel or could a styling cream that already has some hold)
The brand or type of product you use within each category listed above will depend on your unique hair profile.
5. Your Method of Product Application is All Wrong for Your Hair Type
Once you figure out which product will be right for your unique hair profile, the application of those products will be critical to the outcome of your wash and go. The most common mistakes people make are: 1) not applying products to soaking wet hair, 2) not coating each strand root to tip and 3) not leaving your hair alone once the products have been applied.
This is one area where your curl pattern and hair density will make a big impact. If you have a looser curl pattern or low density hair, chances are this process will go by much quicker as you won’t have to apply products to smaller sections of hair to coat all of your strands. It’ll also determine whether the prayer hand method or the rake and scrunch method of application will be more effective.
Once you find the right method of application for your hair type, you will need to LEAVE. YOUR. HAIR. ALONE. Constant manipulation causes frizz. So once your hair clumps into defined sections, don’t touch it. Listen, I get it. I have severe hand-in-hair syndrome (I am not cured), but I leave the hair touching until AFTER my hair has dried. 😏
There you have it! You now have 5 ways to improve your wash and go process to ensure you achieve a defined style you’ll not only want to flaunt, but one you’ll want to style over and over again, no matter your hair type. If you need help implementing any of these steps or figuring out your unique hair profile, book a strategy call with me to walk through the process and join our newsletter for additional natural hair and transitioning hair tips, exclusive content and giveaways.