Wash and Go’s seem to get mixed reviews. Some love them because they’re easy, convenient, and long-lasting once you get the right method and products down. Others find they’re a tangle-inducing, SSK proliferating nightmare. Ever since I discovered that I could indeed wash my hair and go, I did. As a transitioner, I had to wait until I reached the point where I had more natural hair than heat damaged, but I still rocked the heck out of the style. And when I chopped, I kept the good thing going. I’m now obsessed with defining products, day 3 and 4 hair and growth/length retention.
Wait, did I just say length retention? I sure did. One of the most commonly stated facts about length retention is that you can’t expect much when you wear your hair out regularly. While it’s true that you will always retain more length with protective styling, for some naturals length retention is possible without constantly twisting and tucking away the hair. Sometimes washing, applying product, and going (I’m not a fan of the diffuser) is all you really need.
But before I get too much further, let’s explore a few pro’s and con’s:
As you can see, there are some definite benefits and drawbacks to rocking the wash and go style. Beyond that, everything is completely unique to the individual. Some ladies can rock wash and go styles, and achieve amazing hair health and length retention. In these cases, wearing wash and go’s are totally worth it. Other ladies will refuse to wash and go, citing everything from breakage and splitting ends to shrunken unevenness and impossible tangles. These challenges have led some to believe that wash and wear hair simply isn’t worth those hefty prices.. I personally love the wash and go, and have literally lived in them especially since I chopped in December. Seriously. In the past three months, I have only done one twistout and one braidout. Everything else has been a wash and go.
The key to determining whether a wash and go will work for you is longevity. If you find yourself doing a wash and go every day, that somewhat defeats the purpose of the style in terms of being low manipulation and low maintenance. Getting 4 or more days out of your wash and go is optimal, because within that time frame you’re only touching your hair to moisturize/refresh, and to prepare for bed.
If a wash and go hasn’t worked for you, that’s totally okay! We all have to know and understand our hair, and do what helps it thrive. I personally cannot wear protective styles for longer than a week because of my scalp psoriasis, and the fact that my hair will fuzz up and render the style ruined by day 4. But sometimes, getting your wash and go at the top of its game is really a matter of products and methods. Here are some of my tips for achieving a long lasting wash and go:
1. Always figure out what products to use beforehand, and determine whether they’ll mesh or not. Some folks rely on mixing dabs of product on the back of their hand, or rubbing it in their hands to see if a white cast forms. Both of those methods are completely fine, and a lot less labor-intensive than what I do. I personally prefer to take a small section of hair, wash it, and layer on the products as I intend. Sometimes, I will take that section and split it in half, to see which leave-in or moisturizer I want to use. This method allows me to see what it actually looks like on my hair beforehand without any adverse consequences. Besides, I’m getting ready to wash my hair anyway!
2. Wash and go’s work best on clean, well-conditioned hair. The essence of the style is bedded within the name itself — wash and go. Be sure to cleanse your hair thoroughly to remove any product buildup that could potentially interfere with whatever you’ll be using to set the style. If I’m co-washing, I opt for Aussie Moist. For shampoo, I always use my trusted tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo. Deep conditioning is vital. Not only do you want to moisturize and strengthen your hair prior to, deep conditioning helps cut down on frizz. Be sure to use a quality deep conditioner for at least 15 minutes. My personal picks right now are ApHogee Curlific Texture Treatment, Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner, and tgin Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner.
3. Don’t skip the leave-in. After deep conditioning, you can opt to put some regular conditioner back in your hair as a leave-in. This can also help with taming frizz, smoothing hair, clumping curls and coils, and retaining moisture. Only do this if you know your conditioner won’t interfere with your moisturizer or styler, and cause white clumps later on down the line. If you’re not a fan of regular conditioner on your hair post-wash, ApHogee Curlific Leave-In, Koils By Nature Moisturizing Shealoe Leave-In, and Lawrence Ray Concepts Mega Bounce & Body Leave-In Conditioner are great options.
4. Moisturize! Never start a wash and go without some type of water-based moisturizer after your leave-in, but before your styling product. Most curl definers and styling products have cast/film-forming properties and also act as sealants. To avoid hair that dries out quickly, always use a water-based moisturizer full of butters and oils first. Soultanicals Fluffalicious Curl Nutricious, Frizz Free Curls Curl Souffle, Rapunzel’s Hair Lotion, Camille Rose Naturals Curl Love Moisture Milk, and tgin Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer are all top picks for me.
5. Use the right amount of product and the right method of applying for your hair. There are literally tons of great products that will give your curls, kinks, and coils definition, shine, body, and hold for days. But they won’t work if applied incorrectly for your hair type. Some people can get away with a quarter-sized amount for their entire head, and have amazing wash and go hair forever. I’m not one of those people. I take a more heavy-handed approach to applying my styling products, ensuring that each section is coated evenly. The end result is that for days 1 and 2 my hair is super duper defined, has okay volume, and is a little crunchy. But by day 3, my hair begins defying gravity, is full of volume, is soft, defined (with just the right amount of frizz), and a little stretched (thanks to pineappling at night). If you want to see how I apply my product, check out my video all about it (FIY, if you’re curious about the evolution of that wash and go for days 2 and beyond, click here). I use a combination of raking and smoothing to achieve definition. My favorite stylers are TIGI Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier, tgin Twist and Define Cream, Aloe Vera Gel (I prefer Lily of the Desert brand), Soultanicals Curl Blaze Hair Glaze, and Obia Curl Enhancing Custard.
6. Refresh by day 2 or 3. If you’re hair is seeming a little out of sorts by day 2 or so, it’s definitely time to refresh. Especially if the air where you live is particularly dry. I recommend a refresher, or steam, using the same moisturizer you picked in step #4, and an oil or butter of choice for sealing (concentrating on the ends). I like to use my Q‑Redew for moisture, or a refresher spray like Jessicurl Awe Inspiraling, or Ella’s Concoctions Juicy Nectar Spritzer. I follow that up with whatever moisturizer I used in setting my style, and a little Rapunzel Hair Silk, Darshana Ayurvedic Oil, or Jojoba Oil lightly throughout my hair, and concentrated on my ends.
Everything else depends totally on how you work your wash and go! I preserve at night by banding some sections, and then using a scarf to pineapple (video here). You can band, scrunchie pineapple, bun, loosely braid, use a bonnet, or whatever method you prefer. Also, you will know best when to wash your hair. Usually by day 6 or 7 I’m throwing in the towel and starting all over again. If you choose to wash your hair every 4 days, or wait 2 weeks, that’s totally up to you! And as always, any of the products I mentioned are tried and true or holy grails for me — but by all means use whatever products will make your hair look amazing. With the methods and products listed above, I’ve been able to maintain moisturized hair that continues to retain length. I’m definitely becoming a lazy natural, haha!
Good luck washing and going, if you so choose!
Ladies, do you do a wash and go regimen? Have you been able to retain length with it? Share your experiences below!