If you haven’t heard, having a solid wash day routine for natural hair is essential to promote a healthy moisture balance, ensure length retention, and minimize breakage and shedding.
Growing up, I slapped on a shampoo and conditioner, put on oil and put my hair in a bun.
I know now that that was not a good wash day routine for natural hair. I didn’t realize it then, but my hair was dry, damaged and unhealthy.
Because I’ve planned my wash day routine so meticulously, I’ve been able to keep my hair clean yet moisturized, and my length and thickness is finally returning. I’ve never seen my hair so defined, and my curls bounce the minute I step out of the shower.
Remember: a poorly planned wash day routine can lead to seriously unhealthy hair. But a solid wash day routine will lead you to the curls of your dreams.
Ready to get your wash day routine for natural hair on lock? Let’s go!
Before we get into the wash day routine, keep in mind that you should have a thorough understanding of your natural hair. In particular you should know (not an exhaustive list):
- Your natural hair type (Type 2-4),
- Your porosity (either low porosity natural hair or high porosity natural hair),
- If you’re protein sensitive or not
The above knowledge will help inform you on product selection and how often you should be washing your hair. In general, Type 4s should use shampoo biweekly while Type 2 and 3 should shampoo weekly.
Now, here are the mandatory things you must include in your wash day routine for natural hair:
Pre-poo is the act of applying a treatment prior to shampooing, usually in the form of an oil or conditioner.
This step is essential for minimizing breakage. As shampoo can be quite stripping, applying a pre-poo will act as a barrier to protect your hair’s natural moisture levels.
Some of the best oils for natural hair can be used as a pre-poo, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. Section your hair and apply a generous amount of the oil into your strands, focusing on your ends and scalp. Treat yourself to a nice scalp massage while you’re at it!
2. Let The Water Fall
When you step into the shower, do not immediately shampoo.
Natural hair LOVES water. Let your curls drink up the water for about 3-5 minutes prior to starting your routine.
3. Shampoo (Your Scalp)
Have you ever seen those shampoo commercials on TV, where the model is lathering the shampoo all over her hair?
Yeah, don’t do that.
Your hair is dirty at the scalp. So, focus your energy there!
Section your hair and shampoo each section (again, only the scalp). When you’ve covered your whole scalp, let the water (and suds) run flow down your strands.
Your hair will still be clean without that dry, squeaky clean feeling. And the pre-poo you added before will be an extra layer of protection.
4. Condition and Detangle
If you shampooed, you need to follow up with conditioner WITH slip. This is critical for detangling!
Work a generous size amount of conditioner into your ends and strands to start. Type 3c-4c should use more conditioner for the slip.
In sections, use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to detangle. Once you’re done, wash out the conditioner with cold water!
5. Deep Condition and Chill
If you take anything from this: NEVER WASH YOUR HAIR IF YOU DON’T HAVE TIMETO DEEP CONDITION.
Curls are inherently dry. The sebum, or scalp oils, can’t reach the length of our strands because of how twisty our curls are. We need to supply our ends and strands with the moisture that it needs to stay moisturized and retain length.
Deep conditioning will moisturize, strengthen, and encourage length, but only if you have a proper routine in place.
Using your favourite deep conditioner, apply a generous amount to your hair in sections, focusing on the ends. Spritz some water on your hair (if its dried), and slap on a plastic cap. Leave it for 30 mins.
For low porosity natural hair, use a hair steamer or hot head to open up those stubborn cuticles. After the allotted time, wash it off with cold water.
Now, after all that hard work putting together your regimen, deciding on your products, de-tangling and deep conditioning, you want to make sure you trap all that moisture in.
For this step, you need a water-based leave-in conditioner (L), a thicker cream/lotion (C), and an oil (O).
The order of product application will depend on your hair porosity. But generally, high porosity naturals should use the LOC method; low porosity natural hair should use the LCO method.
In addition to the above, keep the following in mind:
- Get a trim! Starting a hair regimen on non-split ends will ensure faster results. Trim as much as you are comfortable with. This is imperative before you create a wash day routine for natural hair.
- Protective style to see fast growth.
- Use as many organic products as possible.
- Know what products work well for the seasons. Use these products when you make your wash day routine for natural hair. Generally speaking, use emollients in the spring/summer, when there is more moisture in the air. Examples include honey and glycerin. The emollients in your products will pull the moisture from the air into your curls. In the winter, it’s the opposite!
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, there’s nothing more important to a natural than moisturized coils. And moisture starts with your wash day routine!