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How to Keep Wash Day Short

Avatar • Jun 19, 2012

By Geniece of Beautifully Made

For many women the decision to wear their hair naturally is well thought out. If you were like me you spent years wearing your hair relaxed and wanted to be sure that you weren’t biting off more than you could chew by taking the plunge and wearing your hair in its natural state. Once you figure out a few styles to wear during your transition, products and a regimen you felt ready. Then you realized something you hadn’t considered: The time. The minutes that turned into hours as you detangle, twist, braid and wash your hair. The belief that it has to take many hours to care for natural hair is one of the main concerns I’ve heard from those considering going natural. I want to put your fears to rest. It doesn’t have to take 6 hours a week to detangle your hair every week. In fact, I would argue that you should be able to care for your hair in a relatively short period of time.

So how long will it take you to care for your hair on wash day? Of course this depends on the length and thickness of your hair. As of today my hair is between mid-back length and waist length and rather thick.

From start to finish I can detangle, wash and style my hair in an updo with large twists (such as a chignon) in about 3 ½‑4 hours. I love such styles because once I’m done I can tie my hair down with a scarf and the style will remain sleek and neat for a few days before I need to fix up the frizzy edges. Because I wash my hair bi-weekly I find that hair care ends up taking a very limited amount of time.

In detail here is how my wash time breaks down.

Pre-Shampoo: 30 minutes

I often start wash day by applying a conditioner to lightly dampened hair. I let the product sit for at least fifteen minutes.

Detangle: 1–1.5 hours

Detangling will take about 1 hour on hair coated with conditioner and oil. This is one part of my regimen I can’t rush through. I like to use a wide tooth seamless comb. Sometimes I then go through the section with a smaller tooth detangling comb (the kind with interlocking teeth) and gently comb the hair a few more times.

Wash: 40 minutes

I keep my hair twisted in large sections and wash each section, focusing on the roots. I always think it should only take me 20 minutes but, alas, I’m usually shampooing for about 35 to 40 minutes. I like to make sure there is no build up or shampoo remaining.

Style: 45 minutes- 1 hour

The time my hair takes to style varies. If I’m lazy I place my hair in 10 large twists and call it a night. The next day I will usually style it simply, such as a ponytail with the ends pinned up. If I want a braid out, I will place my hair in about 15 or 16 braids. When preparing for a twisted up do I usually twist my hair in 20–30 medium twists. Because I spend the time detangling before washing I don’t have to spend time detangling all over again. This makes the styling process fairly quick.

The only occasions in which I spend many hours on my hair is when I flat iron, which I very rarely do, and when I wear mini-twists. Even with mini-twists I find that I save time over the course of a month because while I may take 7 or 8 hours to twist my hair using small sections, I can maintain the style for a month. During such occasions I will also be sure to deep condition my hair, usually overnight. If I deep conditioned every week, which I don’t, I believe it would only add about another 30 minutes overall.

I’ve found a way to manage my hair without it consuming an inordinate amount of my time. If I can do it, I think you can as well.

Ladies, how long does wash day take? What are your strategies for making it go faster?

For more of Geniece’s haircare advice check out her YouTube channel: Beautifully Made.

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hyspin
hyspin
8 years ago

The I keep washing day short. 1. No Pre-shampooing. 2. Washing is about 20–40mins assuming I am not doing a protein treatment. That includes: Twist hair up in 5–6 sections or clip up if really lazy [1–8mins] Shampoo, [5–8mins] ( followed by oil rinse if I feel up to it), Condition (while waiting I take a shower) I don’t usually do longer than what recommended on the conditioner which is usually 5–15 minutes (for most deep conditioners or hair masks I use) [7–20] Follow with a ACV rinse. [2–4 mins] Detangling does take time, I think it is about 45 minutes on average,longer… Read more »

Genevieve
Genevieve
8 years ago

I wear my hair in small twists for 3 weeks ( because it’s easier for my schedule), so I wash my hair about once a month. For my pre poo, I do a hot oil rinse. After letting it sit on my dampened hair for about 20 minutes, I detangle with a wide tooth comb. With my hair in sections, I shampoo my hair and that takes less than ten minutes to cleanse my hair. I quickly condition my hair with a cheap shampoo, and detangle some more. After that comes the deep conditioner. I use Aztec Indian Clay and mix… Read more »

Vonnie
Vonnie
8 years ago

Geniece, your regimen is mine to a T.

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
8 years ago

Just today I washed my hair and I was thinking that my hair is in its God-given state, why should I be spending sooo much time into it. Its natural state should afford me more time for myself, my family, my housework etc. I stopped pre-pooing overnight eons ago, it did nothing for me more than give me a head cold. I pre-pooo with coconut oil and I literally leave that on long enough for me to have a meal or something , then off to the shower. I no longer hop in and out and in and out of… Read more »

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago
Reply to  caribbeancurl

I like your attitude and approach. And I co-sign on the “headcold” part — I thought it was just me who couldn’t go to bed with wet hair. And, don’t EVEN let there be a fan or AC blowing. No bueno.

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
8 years ago
Reply to  BlackOnyx03

Thanks. I am so done with the long hours on my head and spend more time just enjoying it. Is this the same BlackOnyx with the natural hair youtube channel? I observe the numbers are different.

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago
Reply to  caribbeancurl

Ha! No, not the same one. I eventually plan to start a YT channel — just as soon as I figure out what works for my hair though!

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
8 years ago
Reply to  BlackOnyx03

Ok. Cool. I will look out for ya’.

Bernadette
8 years ago

It used to take me hours to do my hair! It still kinda does, but not nearly as long as before. My hair is in mini 2‑strand twists all of the time. They take time to remove and detangle — I have to first remove the twists and then smooth out my hair — usually done over the course of 2 evenings. I just got hip to washing in twistd sections! Huge help there! 4 large sections! Takes about 40 minutes also. MY BIGGEST TIME WASTER — putting hair back in mini 2 strand twists. I need to start doing… Read more »

kifsgirl
kifsgirl
8 years ago

I just wash my hair in cornrows:)

Claudette
8 years ago
Reply to  kifsgirl

I love this idea! I’d do this if my hair was longer … I guess I could wash mine in twists and that would eliminate a lot of time with the detangling process. I’ll have to try this soon!

Jade
8 years ago

I wash my hair every 7–10 days. 1. I section my hair in 5–7 fat twists. 2. I dampen just the roots of each section and add lather from my shampoo bar. 3. I get on my knees in the bathtub (or use a utility sink) to rinse the shampoo out. 4. I add two palmfuls of cheapie conditioner (finishing up suave humectant) and distribute it evenly throughout my hair. I use giant clips to keep my hair stretched in pineapple style on top of my head. 5. Shower 6. Rinse hair, if in arid environment do an oil rinse too. 7. Add… Read more »

African Mami
8 years ago

2 hrs, 15mins.

1hr, shampooing
1hr, enjoying mayonnaise treatment
10minutes, admiring my baby soft hair
5 minutes, rinsing the treatment out

Lillian Mae
8 years ago

Still transitioning… Beauty Day Sunday: With hair in sections: 30 Minute Oil Wash PrePoo 30 Minutes Apply ACV to the scalp using the Roots Only Color Applicator (which is amazing for applying anything to your scalp…esp oil!) (Once a month, I use Aztec Indian clay to cleanse the hair and scalp (40 Minutes)). 1 Hour deep condition 10 Mins Rinse conditioner and use a comb to detangle 30 mins Add Braids (and possibly roll ends) Total 2 hrs and 40 minutes (or so ;)) Sunday is my beauty day, so I take my time! Sometimes I even DC for longer… Add Braids until… Read more »

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago

Wash days are one of the few moments that I am grateful to be a fine-haired natural. It takes me no more than 10 minutes to detangle my hair and the entire process (including styling) takes me no more than 45 minutes. For styling I usually rock a wash-and-go, afro-puff or bun. Plan to try a flat twist out soon (ala a curl’s best friend twist-out video for fine-haired naturals).

Lola O.
Lola O.
8 years ago

Natural hair regimens do seem overly complex. Pre-poo, shampoo, co-wash, deep condition, detangle in a million and one parts, hair humidifier, moisturize with the purest oil from the ends of the earth. I’ve always had long hair (mid-back) and I keep it very simple. Wash with sulfate free shampoo and deep condition once a week. I air dry and add oil. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be complex to be successful!

Auset
8 years ago
Reply to  Lola O.

I love your response! I am about tired of anything remotely complicated when it comes to my natural hair. I am thinking with my wash day, although not a simple as yours, it will be

Pre-Poo: at least 30 minutes, but preferably applied the night before
Cleanse: With moisturizing sulfate free shampoo. Lather and rinse only once. No repeat.
Oil Rinse/Hot Oil Treatment — call this a deep treatment if you want to
Condition
Apply Leave-In and Moisturizers

My goal is to have a wash day that takes no more than 45 minutes from cleansing to applying leave-in and moisturizers.

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago
Reply to  Lola O.

I chuckled loudly at “purest oil from the ends of the earth.” Whew!!! Now that was funny!

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
8 years ago
Reply to  Lola O.

I agree! It doesn’t have to be so long and difficult. Yes, my hair’s long as well.

EG
EG
8 years ago

It takes me about 4 hours on a full wash day. A full wash day is shampoo (5mins); deep condition (30mins max); detangle and style 3 hours. I take my time detangling/braiding, and I catch up on old sitcoms while I do, so the 3 hours actually fly by.

t
t
8 years ago

thats short? lol

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago

My routine is taking a boatload of time and is still a work in process. But here’s what I did this past Sunday.… Detangle (1.5 hours) 1. Divide hair into several sections. 2. Generously apply olive oil to coat hair. 3. Finger detangle, clipping SSKs with hair shears as needed. Deep Condition (0.5 hours) 1. Sit under hair steamer. (No conditioner this time; just the oil!) 2. When done, twist hair into 8 sections. Shampoo and Condition (2 hours) 1. Apply clarifying bentonnite clay mixture (clay, olive oil, ACV, honey, water) in place of shampoo for just under an hour. Cover with conditioning cap. 2.… Read more »

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago
Reply to  BlackOnyx03

ETA — I need to delete “twist hair into 8 sections” under Deep Condition. I had started to do that but decided against it so that I could apply the clay evenly. So I only did the twist once — after the regular conditioning.

BlackOnyx03
BlackOnyx03
8 years ago
Reply to  BlackOnyx03

Sigh. Oh and I realize that the part about braiding is unclear. For each section of hair, I made several small braids — not one braid as I imply above.

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago

My routine takes 5 minutes or longer depending on how you look at it. I wash daily, I do a WO or water-only wash which doesn’t seem that popular with naturals on-line but I know several women who do it. 1. Jump in shower and sing DeBarge songs 2. Drench hair (the water detangles for me) 3. Massage scalp, especially hairline 4. Post-shower, coat dripping wet hair with pomade or oil 5. Make 5–6 parts and grease hair from root to tip 6. Do a mini massage and style (lately it’s an afro, updo or lazy coil-out) Everyday at home I’ll scratch or ‘scritch’… Read more »

Jms
Jms
8 years ago

Having two children under five and being a SAHM, I have to keep my routine short as possible. I usually co- wash Weekly and clarify once a month. My routine : * Pre-poo for 1hr roughly *Wash hair in 4 sections *Wash,condition and detangle one section at a time.I then rinse and clip it out the way.It can take me from 15–30 mins or longer if I have the time 😀 I find detangling under running water is quicker and using a wide tooth comb works for me. *I then apply my leave-ins,braid my hair and let it air dry * I unravel my hair the… Read more »

abi
abi
8 years ago

Hi girls! my hair are shoulder length. To keep my wash-day as short as possible: -prepoo + detangle 20 min I detangle my hair during the prepoo step. i made in 8–10 braids and detangle while i’m applying olive oil. -shampoo + DC 25 min i put the shampoo on my scalp and conditionner on the length then i wash properly my scalp. i rinse and reput conditionner on my length while i’m washing my body, shave legs.… -leave-in , re-style 25 min i use a towel to dry my hair 5 min , then i re-braids my hairs in 8–10 braids with leave in… Read more »

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago

I wash my hair every 7–10 days. Here is my step-by-step routine: — finger-detangle with conditioner [on dry, stretched, sectioned (12 parts) hair] — shampoo [in 12 twisted sections with diluted shampoo via an applicator bottle] — moisturize [with leave-in conditioner &/or moisturizer] — stretch [16 braids with two-strand twisted ends for a braid-out] — seal [ends & edges] with oil My routine takes 2 hours to complete. I think that’s good ’cause I have ~12 inches of dense, kinky coily, Afro-textured hair to care for. P.S. I find that watching a movie while detangling hastens the process and makes it quite… Read more »

LM
LM
8 years ago

My hair is around six inches and shrinks to above my ears. I couldn’t twist or braid my hair in less than 15 sections and expect them not to unravel if my life depended on it. I am a very slow braider for some reason as it takes me 1 hour or more to put these twists or braids in my hair lol. Styling takes up the majority of my wash day. I shampoo in four clipped up sections and bathe simultaneously which takes maybe an hour b/c I take 40+ minute showers I apply my DC thoroughly in sections and… Read more »

LM
LM
8 years ago
Reply to  LM

Sometimes it feels like it takes FOREVER b/c I’ll start at like 8pm and am soooo tired by the end of the process. Shame on me.

Alicia
Alicia
8 years ago

Geniece and have the same regimen with the exception of two things. My pre-poo and detangle count as one. I dampen my hair and then slather with conditioner to detangle which I count as my pre-poo since detangling usually takes a little over an hour. I do a deep condition after I shampoo as well which, if I’m not being lazy, lasts almost two hours. My hair is medium porosity so my conditioner has to sit longer than usual. If I attempted my regimen from start to finish it should take me no me no more than 5 hours. My regimen: Pre-poo/detangle Shampoo… Read more »

Urbansocialight
Urbansocialight
8 years ago

Wow, this really shows how personal everyone’s journey is! I decided early on in my natural hair journey that I was not about that twisting life. I’ve always been able to wash my hair and style in less than 1 hour (even w/a relaxer). I usually WnG so that takes as long as my shower takes. Most days I just quickly stick my head under the shower head. I’ll co-wash if I notice the curls aren’t popping properly. If I don’t WnG I wear a puff or bun. On real wash day (which is every 7–10 days) this is my routine:… Read more »

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
8 years ago

I wash my hair every two weeks (cowash once to twice a week, unless it’s a wash week). I don’t prepoo. I place my hair in four to five sections. With each section, I shampoo, condition, and re-clip my hair. While I shower, my hair sits with the conditioner in the hair. Afterwards, I rinse the conditioner out with warm water and do a final rinse with cool water. I gently squeeze remaining water from my hair and wrap it in a Turbie Twist. It takes me about fifteen minutes. Once I let my hair get damp, but not dripping wet,… Read more »

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
8 years ago
Reply to  honeybrown1976

I forgot to add: I deep condition on a non-shampoo day every two weeks or as needed.

Chantel
Chantel
8 years ago

I just love Geniece’s articles.

Ada
Ada
8 years ago

I recently shortened my hair routine down to around 2 hrs 🙂 My hair is super coily and just below apl. All I do is:
DC on dry hair (30 mins)
Cowash and finger detangle (~40 mins)
Style in a twist and curl (50 mins-1hr)

luminous
luminous
8 years ago

I break my wash routine up into 2 days since it’s such a beast… day one: deep condition: with hair smoothie of avocado, coconut oil, banana, egg, and honey (modified Laila recipe). i let sit for 1–2 hours while i do stuff like clean, read or watch tv detangle: hop in shower rinse out conditioner, section hair into 12 sections and detangle each section with water running through my hair. i detangle with fingers first, then wide tooth comb, then detangle brush. i’m working on getting to finger only detangle. twisting up each section as I detangle. takes about 30 minutes ACV… Read more »

deborah
deborah
8 years ago

Wow, i’m so impressed by everyone’s wash day routine. I absolutely hate wash day especially since i’m still dreaming of my days with a TWA. I have been able to shorten my wash day to 2hrs with BSL hair. Now, it’s 15min ACV rinse, 45 min shampoo 1x, condition 1x, 60 min detangling and twisting into ~20 medium size twists. I usually wear my twists for a week then wear them out for another week. I wonder if I would retain more length if I pre-poo’d?

Gloria
Gloria
8 years ago

Um…I’m a college student, and doing a 3–4 hour wash routine in a dorm would be pretty difficult.  I also run daily, and I can’t stand having an itchy scalp, so I wash my hair a lot.  I usually wash with shampoo at least once per week and cowash 2–3 times per week.  If I’m too tired/busy to do anything, I just rinse my hair in the shower so that it is at least moisturized. The max that my entire hair routine will take is an hour (from pre-poo to style), and when I’m really tired, I can get it… Read more »

Eli
Eli
8 years ago
Reply to  Gloria

How long is your hair? How do you style it? What is your routine exactly? 15 minutes sound so great!

Phoenix
8 years ago

Yeah…wow…damn…reading these comments…I doubt that I’ll go natural any time soon. I admire the heck out of you ladies, but I simply do not have the time or patience. My wash day can be as short as an hour, and that includes a quick pre-poo,detangle,shampoo, condition, rollerset, dry with cold air and then pin up. Even on LONG wash days I keep it under 4 hours — 30min prepoo, detangle, shampoo, 30min-1hr DC, rinse, rollerset and airdry. Y’all have a LOT of strength, it’s very admirable. I’ll stay on the relaxed bandwagon. However, I get GREAT tips from y’all, thank you 🙂

Jasmine
Jasmine
8 years ago

These complex routines baffle me. I detangle my hair using water and a big tooth comb. Shampoo once and apply conditioner. No sectioning and all that jazz. 30 minutes tops.

Hadassah
8 years ago

Wow! All the above methods have been enlightening! Lol! Well, I have 4b hair and I wash once in two wks when my hair is in and once in a wk when its out. I guess it takes less than 45mins to do a basic wash and bout an hr when I’m doing spa like deep conditioning. I don’t detangle much before shampooing cos I keep my hair in a stretched state prior to washing by banding or doing a single thick braid. I part my hair into four and wash each part from roots to tip quickly finger detangling,… Read more »

Pat
Pat
8 years ago

My hair is only shoulder length, but it only takes 10 minutes to detangle. For those who spend1‑2 hours detangling, are you combing 3 strands at a time?

caribbeancurl
caribbeancurl
8 years ago
Reply to  Pat

Lol. Many people aren’t gonna like your comment. I take 40 mins tops WHEN i comb hair with conditioner. But if you take into consideration pre-poo, sectioning hair, washing by section, conditioning by section, combing each section etc..regardless of length you WILL take longer than 10 mins.

If its like we used to do it when we were kids; wash hair in one big ball, condition same way..then yes it will take 10 mins.

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago
Reply to  Pat

It’s the same with me though! My hair really doesn’t take that long to detangle either.

MsPooh
MsPooh
8 years ago

When it comes to our haircare, whether natural or relaxed, it truly is to each his/her own. Some people don’t feel it’s necessary to take a half day to baby their hair…some people will take longer because they feel it is what works for them. I don’t think anybody is suggesting that we all should take 4 to 6 hours to do our hair and I don’t think anybody is watching through our bathroom & bedroom windows so they can call the Hair Police on us. I think we can lighten up on each other a little. With that mini-rant… Read more »

angie
angie
8 years ago

there is no way im taking 3–4 or even one hour to wash my hair! that is crazy! people really take 6 hours? WOW!

abi
abi
7 years ago

wow some of these regimines blow my mind. the only lengthy part of my regimine is the overnight oil treatments. the next morning, i wash, condition and detangle in 4 sections, use leave in and sealant and do flat twists 1hr30min tops. i cant stand the idea of spending unnecessary time on my hair. maybe because im in university and time is so valuable, with all my assignments, prep work and studying. i want my hair to be strong and grow long but no way am i spending 4–6hrs on my hair.

trackback

[…] is a time commitment, and so is maintaining long natural hair. While waist-length natural Geniece recently shared that maintaining long hair doesn’t have to take forever, it does undoubtedly take more time […]

aprilracine
aprilracine
6 years ago

If you ever kept a pair of scissors by your side every time you washed your hair then you would understand. Single strand knots are my greatest enemy. If I move fast my hair breaks a lot. If I move slow it doesn’t. My hair is armpit length. I read while I detangle and put my hair in 18 to 20 twist (2 hours). Wash and condition and deep condition (1 hour). Style (1hour). Use a potato bag clip to hold your page in place on your book.

Mishynana
Mishynana
5 years ago

well on average i wld say washday lasts me about an hour and half max only got medium length hair.

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