defined natural hair showing wash and go for natural hair
Curly Hair Care

How to Get The Perfect Wash and Go For Natural Hair

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Achieving the perfect wash and go for natural hair is a highly coveted status in the natural hair community. It’s almost like chasing after a unicorn.

Despite what you may see online, the name “wash and go” is a whole misnomer. The name implies that a natural can just wash their hair and literally “go” out of the house, an act which is fictious at best.

Really, it should be called wash and:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Detangle
  • Deep condition
  • Style and apply gel
  • Wait 7 hours to dry

The reality is that the perfect wash and go for natural hair can be tedious and time-consuming.

But with the below steps, it’s 100% achievable and attainable, and if done correctly, can yield beautiful coils that can last for days.

Ready to figure out how to get the perfect wash and go for natural hair, literally every time? Leggo!

girl with defined curly hair showing wash and go for natural hair

What is a Wash and Go?

A wash and go differs from low manipulative styles (i.e. twist outs, braid outs, etc).

Fundamentally, these low manipulative styles coax your hair into retaining a style because it was laid and dried in that style overnight.

With these low manipulative styles, your hair is also encouraged to better absorb the product, thus aiding in the style retention process.

But with a wash and go, you’re allowing your natural curl pattern to shine through.

No “manipulation” in the form of twists, braids and bantu-knots are involved in the creation of a wash and go. It’s just you and your coils!

Here’s how you know you have a good wash and go:

  • Your coils are defined and moisturized. For 4c hair, your hair will feel buttery and soft to the touch.
  • No flakes! Flakes occur when you have an overabundance of product (called product buildup, which we’ll talk about shortly)
  • Lasts more than at least 3 days
  • Minimal breakage/single-strand knots

Now that we know what the perfect wash and go on natural hair looks like, let’s get into how to actually attain it.

But before we do, it's important to know one critical thing:

Natural hair Porosity

Natural hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb water and/products. 

Low porosity natural hair has a low absorption rate, because the cuticles are stubbornly closed. It is difficult for this hair porosity to absorb moisture.

High porosity natural hair has a high absorption rate, because the cuticles are always open. It is difficult for this hair porosity to retain moisture.

Knowing your porosity is important for one key fact: it'll impact HOW you apply your products.

Generally speaking: if you have low porosity natural hair, follow the LCO method (liquid, cream, and then oil). Apply gel after the oil.

If you have high porosity natural hair: apply your products in the LOC method. Apply gel after the cream.

How To Get The Perfect Wash and Go for Natural Hair?

Start on Clean Hair

The cleaner your natural hair, the better your wash and go will turn out.

Product buildup, which is an overaccumulation of product on your hair, is not only drying for your coils, but it will prevent a style from succeeding/staying put.

For a long lasting wash and go, you want to start on a blank canvas. So we suggest doing a complete wash day routine.

Follow steps 1-6 outlined here.

Moisture, moisture, moisture!

Moisture is truly the cornerstone of a dope wash and go on natural hair.

Think about when your coils are most defined: probably in the shower, where the water is running down your hair and your hair is basking in all that hydrating goodness.

Natural hair loves water. It can’t get enough!

First and foremost, always make sure that you’re working with damp hair. Doing a wash and go on dry natural hair is no bueno, sis!

Once you’ve washed out your deep conditioner (with cold to lukewarm water), always start with a leave-in.

You must apply a leave-in conditioner first in order to moisturize your hair and prime it for your remaining products (i.e. gel!). Here are our top leave-in contenders for a bomb wash and go:

If you have Type 4 hair:

If you have Type 3 hair:

type 4 leave-in conditioner tgin butter cream daily moisturizer
type 3 leave-in conditioner_shea moisture curl and style milk

TGIN Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer

No other moisturizer exists on the market quite like this one - not only does it have amazing slip, but it's rich formula with shea butter and vitamin E will help flatten those Type 4 natural hair and keep frizz at bay!

Shea Moisture Curl & Style Milk

A light-weight, hydrating moisturizer. Perfect for Type 3 naturals with loose curls and waves. 

Time for a Detanglement

To get those juicy, defined coils, you need to make sure of one thing… that your curls are DETANGLED.

Doing any style on tangled hair is bound to be a hot mess, but this is especially true for a wash and go for natural hair.

Your wash and go will be chunky, uneven, dry and dull if there are deep tangles in your hair.

Work in Sections

It’s also especially important to work in sections when you detangle to ensure that every curl is coated with enough product. This is key to getting those curls nice and separated!

The thicker your hair, the more sections you should use.

Apply your leave-in conditioner, finger detangle to get the bigger tangles out, and then follow up with a wide-tooth comb! 

Follow the LOC or LCO method, depending on your porosity noted above. Be very light-handed with your cream stylers, only a small amount is needed per section!

If your hair starts to feel dry, use a spray bottle to re-damp your curls. Never detangle on dry hair!!


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Use Gel!

Now, here’s where the magic happens.

Your curls are going to feel soft and buttery after the deep conditioner and leave-in conditioners, but now’s the time to lock all that in.

The gel step is a delicate one. Be very light-handed. Less is definitely more with gel, otherwise you can be left with the dreaded white flakes!

Start with a dime sized amount per section and rake it through your curls. You can use the prayer-hands motion or use the shingle method – whichever works for you! If you are prone to shedding, use the prayer-hands.

If you're wondering which gels are best for natural hair, don't worry - we got you 😉 

If you have Type 4 hair:

If you have Type 3 hair:

4b natural hair gel a picture of Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel
photo showing kinky curly curling custard

Camille Rose Naturals Aloe Whipped Butter Gel

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!

Kinky Curly Original Curling Custard 

This gel is a cult classic. Long before the plethora of hair gels for natural hair, this gel was holding it down for the curls. Great for looser curls (Type 2 and 3) looking for hold and definition.

The Banding Method

Back in the day, everyone and their mama was suggesting the pineapple method when sleeping with natural hair.

The pineapple method is when you simply tie your hair up in a high-top bun, where the hair rests on the crown of the head overnight.

Now if you have 3b natural hair, this may work for you.

However if you have tighter curls, the pineapple method will most likely cause breakage and shedding the next time you detangle your hair.

Why? Because the pineapple method mixes up your coils in other areas of your hair and causes the coils to layer atop one another.

This results in the dreaded single-strand knots.

Instead, try the banding method! The banding method is using non-irritating hair ties (loose ones with no metal on it) to section the hair and tie them together.
ayana aden showing the banding method

Our editor-in-chief showing how she does the banding method. Each section is banded at the top near the roots, and in the middle of the section.

Notice how there are two sections in the back, one on the right side and two on the left side.

Since her hair is parted on the left, she has more sections on that side to keep the hair stretched (the more sections, the more stretched the hiar will be).

The lowermost part of each section is not banded to retain the curl pattern.

Simply section your hair in 5-7 sections (one in the front, two in the back and 1-2 on each side) and wrap the hair tie at the roots of the hair, and close to the ends (about 10-20 cm away from the ends) to keep the curls intact.

In the morning, spread some oil on your hands and slowly release your section. Fluff your hair out and voila!

This method will 1) minimize breakage and reduce the chance of single-strand knots, and 2) keep your wash and go looking good for a few days!

Final Thoughts on The "Perfect" Wash and Go for Natural Hair

Let's be real: no style is ALWAYS perfect. Our natural hair is a work in progress, and that's ok! 

But every natural can achieve a poppin' wash and go if the above steps are followed.

By starting on clean, fresh hair, applying the right amount of moisture, using gel and maintaining the style via the banding method, your wash and go should last quite a few days.

How often do you do a wash and go on natural hair? Share your tips down below!