How To Do A Wash and Go On Type 4 Hair

Oct 18, 2021

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Fact: achieving a bomb wash and go on Type 4 hair is not as difficult as we’ve been led to believe.

Leaving Afrotextured Type 4 hair out of the wash and go discourse has done a great disservice to the natural hair community. The process of achieving a wash and go for type 4 hair may look different than Type 2 or 3 curls, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

a GIF of black girls dancing against a blue sky

Let’s into the exact process to do a wash and go on Type 4 hair, including the best wash and go products for Type 4 hair.

What Are Wash and Go Hairstyles?

Wash and go hairstyles, as the name implies, simply means to apply your stylers to your hair and allow the hair to set as is. This is an example of a fixed hairstyle, where the style is not further manipulated after product application.

In contrast, flexible styles such as braid outs and twist outs, allow for hair manipulation in order for the style to set.

In other words: wash and go hairstyles means letting your true curl pattern shine through.

a girl with an afro closing her eyes against a blue backdrop

Can I Do A Wash and Go for 4c Hair?


All hair types can do a wash and go, regardless of curl pattern and texture.

Always remember not to compare your results to that of someone else’s – a wash and go for 4c hair will look different than a wash and go for 3c hair.

Wash and go products for 4c hair may be a bit different than someone with looser curls (hint: not that much different), but the end result is similar – soft, conditioned coils that can last all week.

Doing a wash and go on 4c hair may result in a different product application method, such as working in smaller sections and using a hooded dryer to ensure every coil is dry before fluffing it out.

Nonetheless, it’s 100% possible with the below tips.

The Best Wash and Go Products for Type 4 Hair

Step 1: Start On Clean Hair

Let’s be clear: all hair types need to be cleansed and clarified, and this is no different for Type 4 hair!

Only clean hair can accept moisture. Moisture cannot pass through layers of dirt and debris.

Applying products to hair that already has old product on it will result in more product buildup, perpetuating dryness.

Moisturizing shampoos are great options for natural hair as they contain enough surfactants to remove dirt and buildup without overly stripping the hair. These are great for weekly use.

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse 

Best for TYPE 4

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!

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

Mielle Pomegranate and Honey Moisturizing 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!

Step 2: Condition and Remove Tangles

Conditioning your hair not only softens the hair but also primes it to receive your stylers.

Both deep conditioners and regular conditioners are slippery enough to detangle your hair.

Tangles are simply curls that are not situated in their place and have interlocked with other curls. Having tangle-free hair can make or break the integrity of your wash and go.

a GIF of sailor moon combing her hair

To remove them, apply your conditioner or deep conditioner on wet, clean hair.  Use your fingers to remove larger tangles before going back in with a detangling tool or wide-tooth comb.

Work in sections to ensure all areas are tangle free. The denser your hair, the more sections you should part.

an image of tgin Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

TGIN Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

Best for TYPE 4

This mask is loaded with a healthy balance of strengthening and conditioning ingredients that will soften your coils and keep dryness at bay. A great protein-free deep conditioner for boosting moisture and acts as an excellent detangler.

aussie moist conditioner

Aussie Miracle Moist Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4

A pocket-friendly, slippery conditioner that is perfect for tangle-prone coily hair. To save on conditioner, apply on wet hair in sections to fully mobilize the product. For Type 4 naturals, gently finger detangle, working from roots to tips. Rinse off with lukewarm water before deep conditioning.

Step 3: Apply Stylers on Wet Hair

The most important part of a bomb wash and go on Type 4 hair is clean, shampooed hair.

The second part? Water.

Water is nature’s true hydrator. If your hair is dry it wants water, not products!

Always apply your products on wet hair. In sections, give your hair a quick spritz before applying a lightweight leave-in conditioner as your styling aid. This will help keep tangles at bay. Re-apply more water as you go if your hair is feeling dry.

an image of mielle pomegranate and honey leave-in conditioner

Mielle Pomegranate and Honey Leave-in Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4

This light-weight leave-in conditioner is great for low porosity hair struggling with moisture absorption. Key ingredients such as include babassu oil and sugar cane extract are highly moisturizing, will not result in product buildup and will ensure every coil is hydrated for days.

TGIN Miracle RepaiRx Protective Leave In Conditioner

TGIN Miracle Repairx Protective Leave-in Conditioner

Best for TYPE 4

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.

Step 4: Gel Is Your Friend

Gel is incredibly underrated in the natural hair community. Many naturals are afraid of the dreaded gel cast which makes your hair feel crunchy.

This is normal – the water in the gel evaporates, leaving behind the gel cast. This cast is what keeps your hair defined until your next wash day.

Once you apply your leave-ins, smooth down a dime-sized amount of gel to your strands. Work in very small sections to encourage better definition and shine.

Mielle Organics Honey & Ginger Styling Gel

Best for TYPE 4

Mielle always holds it down for the Type 4 naturals, and this product is no exception. Containing 70% organic ingredients, this product applies more like a cream and less like a gel. Great for high porosity naturals because of the coconut high in the ingredient list.

Earthtones Naturals Curl Enhancing Jelly

Best for TYPE 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!

Step 5: Dry It Down

Fully drying your hair using ambient heat is the best way to lock in moisture until the next wash day. Do not touch your coils while your hair is drying as this can cause frizz and curl disturbance.

Ambient air via hooded dryers and diffusers do not damage the hair because the heat is applied around the hair, not on the hair.

Direct heat such as flat irons, on the other hand, does damage the hair because it is applied directly on the hair, causing heat damage.

If possible, use a hooded dryer and/or diffuser to fully dry your hair. Air drying is okay too!

Conair 1875 Watt Pro Style Bonnet Ionic Hair Dryer

Best for TYPE 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.

Some Considerations for Wash and Go For Type 4 Hair

The healthier the hair, the better the wash and go.Dead ends can impact the integrity of your wash and go as they tend to tangle easy, get dry faster, and overall reduce the quality of the style.

If you’re struggling to get a wash and go style that lasts, this may be a sign that you need a trim.

Oils For Wash and Go?

Unfortunately, oils and butters don’t work as well in wash and go’s as gels do.

Applying raw oil to your hair can create volume, but unfortunately the wash and go will not last as long as it would with a defining gel.

Gels include hydrating, botanical ingredients that create a film around your hair strands and can continuously keep your hair moisturized until the next wash day. In contrast, oils contain no moisture.

Protein For Wash And Go’s

Protein treatments improve our curl’s elasticity, keeps our hair bouncy and fills in gaps in our cuticle layer, resulting in increased moisture retention.

If your curls aren’t curling the way they used to, a protein treatment might be what you need.

an image of olaplex no 3 hair perfector

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector

best for all naturals

Olaplex’s Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment has a patented agent that is chemically similar to the disulfide protein bonds in our hair. Using it monthly prior to your wash day will repair broken bonds in your cuticles caused by sun damage, dyes/bleach, heat tools and manipulation. Great for all porosities.

an image of mielle babassu and mint deep conditioner

Mielle Babssu & 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.

Banding Your Hair

If you struggle with fairy knots and deep tangles with your wash and go’s, consider banding your hair.

Banding your hair is as simple as using silk scrunchies to tie your hair down in sections. This will keep your hair stretched and keep those nasty tangles away!

an image of 3 pastel silk scrunchies for natural hair

Mulberry Silk Scrunchies Combo

Best for all naturals

Who says natural hair has to be boring? These silk scrunchies from MYK Silk are both stretchy yet strong, made from the highest quality of silk (mulberry silk), to keep moisture belongs – in your hair! Comes in a pack of 3 with a variety of colours to match your aesthetic, from pastels, neutrals and jewel tones. Use code THECURLMARKET15 for 15% off your purchase.

Final Thoughts About Wash and Go for Type 4 Hair

Every hair type can do a wash and go. The definition may differ, but wash and gos are not exclusive to loose-textured curls!

By keeping your hair clean, applying proper styling aids on wet hair and using a hooded dryer to fully dry your hair, you’re guaranteed a bomb wash and go, every time!

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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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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What's Your Curl Type?

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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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