4 Ways To Shorten Wash Day and Reclaim Your Time

Aug 14, 2021

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We all know that wash day can feel like a chore.

Every natural dreads their upcoming wash day – not only does it takes forever to detangle/shampoo/condition/deep condition/moisturize/style natural hair, it takes 3 business days for it to dry! 

A typical wash day and can easily take up a whole Sunday afternoon if we’re not careful.

a GIF that states: Monday choices, snooze or wash day

The gag is we actually don’t need to dedicate our entire weekends to wash day.

There are certain tips and techniques you can employ during your wash day that will save you both time and money. 

In fact, many natural hair professionals state that your wash day should only take about 90 minutes.

It’s time for us to break free from the shackles of wash day and reclaim our time.

Here’s how to shorten wash day without sacrificing the integrity of your hairstyle!

Wash Day 101

Before we shorten wash day, it’s important to understand the basic steps of a natural hair wash day routine for moisturized hair.

The fundamentals of washing natural hair, according to licensed hairstylists and curl specialists, are:

  • Cleansing – using a shampoo or cleansing conditioner to remove buildup, dirt, oil and bacteria
  • Conditioning/treating – aimed at softening the hair, treating the hair and priming your coils for the leave-in stylers
  • Styling – using products to lock in the first layer of moisture, condition the hair and provide definition and shine until the next wash day

A successful wash day has these foundational elements. It’s important to keep these elements in mind to ensure that your hair is clean, conditioned and properly hydrated.

4 Ways To Shorten Wash Day Significantly

Now that you’ve established the wash day essentials, here are 4 ways to cut down your wash day to not only maximize your time, but only make sure your coils are adequately hydrated and conditioned.

Use a moisturizing shampoo to detangle

Many naturals detangle their hair prior to shampooing.

This is an excellent way to reduce your time in the shower, but we don’t always have the time before a shampoo to do this.

The fix? Use a shampoo with slip!

Some shampoos are formulated with slippery, friction reducing ingredients that make detangling a breeze.

To do this, apply your shampoo to soaking wet hair, working in sections. Work the product into your hair until it lathers and slowly start to finger detangle, working from ends to roots. 

Remember to make sure your hair is wet to mobilize the shampoo and detangle downwards in the direction your hair naturally falls. Don’t forget about your massaging the shampoo into your scalp!

an image of the best products for fine type 4 natural hair_mielle organics pomegranate and honey shampoo

Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Shampoo

Best for TYPE 4

This shampoo is one of the most moisturizing shampoos on the market. Key ingredients such as honey and panthenol reduce friction between hair strands, providing additional slip for detangling and does not overly strip the hair once rinsed. A must try for Type 4 naturals!

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This shampoo is incredibly gentle and non-stripping, but contains enough surfactants to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove buildup. Ginger root oil – the second ingredient in the formula – is antiseptic, boosting overall scalp health. A must have shampoo in any high porosity natural hair routine!

Replace your regular conditioner with a deep conditioner

Conditioners are formulated with emollients to soften the hair and smooth down your cuticles, priming it for your moisturizers and stylers.

However, deep conditioners contain some similar ingredients, and are also formulated with highly penetrative ingredients to deepen its effectiveness.

If you’re in a rush and need to wrap up your wash day, skip the conditioner and use a deep conditioner after your shampoo instead.

The trick is to apply the deep conditioner (in sections) on wet hair. This helps to mobilize the product and melt any tangles away. 

Apply a plastic cap over it and allow the heat from your shower to help the product penetrate for 5-10 minutes. Rinse off with cool water to reduce frizz!

Remember: shampoos lift the cuticle to remove buildup, and conditioner seals it back down, resulting in that super soft feeling. Never shampoo natural hair without sealing the cuticle – with a regular or deep conditioner.

an image of tgin Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

TGIN Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Masque

Best for TYPE 3-4

The most superior ingredient list of any gel on the market. Virtually all-natural, this gel will hydrate the heck out of your curls and works swimmingly for Type 4 naturals, especially for twistouts and braidouts. A definite must-try!

an image of mielle babassu and mint deep conditioner

Mielle Babassu and Mint Deep Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4

One of Mielle’s most popular products, the active ingredient in this mask is babassu seed oil, a significant source of Vitamin E and fatty lipids. The protein source in this formula, amino acids, are small enough to penetrate into your hair strands and fortify your cortex. A great light protein boost for low porosity naturals but high porosity naturals can use it as a weekly deep conditioner.

Moisturize and style in the shower

Moisturizing and styling your hair in the shower is the ultimate natural hair hack, especially for wash and go days.

Contrary to popular belief, you only need 1-2 products for effective moisturizing and styling: a leave-in conditioner and a styling product (gel, cream or mousse). Gels are great for wash and go’s, and cream stylers/mousse are great for twist-outs.

To start, apply your leave-in conditioner on wet, sectioned hair, focusing on your ends. Opt for slippery leave-ins and always apply on wet hair. Remember: water is nature’s only true moisturizer and is the only thing that can truly hydrate the hair.

In other words, the wetter = the better!

Lock it all in with a botanical, plant-based gel or cream/mousse, working in sections. 

Oils can also be used but remember: oils contain no water and are unable to moisturize natural hair. If you decide to use oils, be sure your hair is adequately hydrated underneath and be prepared to wash your hair more often to remove the oil film.

TGIN Miracle RepaiRx Protective Leave In Conditioner

TGIN Miracle Repairx Protective Leave-in Conditioner

Best for TYPE 3 – 4, low porosity

This light-weight formula is perfect for low porosity naturals looking for moisture without the product buildup. It adds definition while replenishing moisture to curls and coils, resulting in soft, supple and defined hair.  

an image of mielle moisturizing avocado hair milk

Mielle Organics Moisturizing Avocado Hair Milk

Best for TYPE 4, high porosity

A Mielle cult classic, this moisturizing hair milk is formulated with film-forming, moisturizing humectants such as aloe vera, nettle and horsetail extract. It also includes various strengthening ingredients such as rice and wheat protein. A perfect staple product for high porosity strands in need of some TLC.

Camille Rose Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

Best for TYPE 3-4

One of the most superior ingredient list of any gel on the market. Virtually all-natural, this gel will define the heck out of your curls and works swimmingly for Type 4 naturals, especially for wash and go’s. A definite must-try!

Earthtones Naturals Curl Enhancing Jelly

Best for TYPE 3-4

A Canadian-based brand, Earthtones Naturals focuses on holistic, natural ingredients – and this gel is no exception. Its formulated with some ingredients such as aloe leaf juice, panthenol and sea kelp!

Use a Hair Dryer To Further Shorten Wash Day

Although expensive, hair dryers are a well-known hack for speeding up the drying process.

Natural hair can take literal days to fully dry, so using a hair dryer will get you done with your wash day sooner.

an image of conair 1875 watt pro style bonnet ionic hair dryer

Conair 1875 Watt Pro Style Bonnet Ionic Hair Dryer

Best for TYPE 3-4

Turn your home into a salon with this affordable bonnet hair dryer. You can either sit under the dryer while deep conditioning with a plastic cap, or allow your hair to dry after styling. Small enough to conserve space but powerful enough to get the job done.

Final Thoughts on Cutting Your Wash Day Down

Your wash day doesn’t need to be a day-long affair.

By using a detangling shampoo, deep conditioning instead of conditioning, moisturizing and styling in the shower and drying with a hair dryer, you’ll find that your wash day will only take about 90 minutes, rather than a whole Sunday afternoon.

Use the above hacks to spend less time in the shower and more time actually enjoying your hair.

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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WRITTEN BY

Ayana Aden

Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @tothecurlmarket.

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Learning your curl type is an important step in learning how to take care of your natural hair. It can help you understand what products will work best for you, how often to shampoo, how to style your natural hair, and other key information.

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