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Why It Takes Me Just 2 Hours to Wash, Detangle and Style my Back-Length 4C Hair

Avatar • Jul 4, 2014

chi

Who wants to spend a whole day washing natural hair? Not me. I will admit, there was a time when it literally did take me a whole day to complete the process. I would spend several minutes shampooing, up to an hour or two deep conditioning, a few hours detangling, all night air drying in chunky twists and a few hours the next day twisting. Sigh. However, I have gotten tired of that lifestyle and have found some ways to shorten the task. In this article, I’ll share two of my faster wash routines (outside of the wash and go) that may hopefully give you ideas of where to cut corners:

1. HEATLESS OPTION:

If I want to avoid using heat, I have to accept some level of shrinkage (not a lot), but that is usually fine with me. This routine is one I’ve done sporadically and it works out well when I don’t have much time on my hands. Here are the details of each process:

Wash – 10 minutes:
I first finger separate my hair (i.e., not finger detangle but finger separate an old chunky twist-out, chunky braid-out, or set of big twists) which takes no more than 10 minutes. Then I put my hair into up to eight big twists. I bend my head over the tub, wet it thoroughly, dilute some shampoo with water in a squirt bottle, and squirt the mixture onto my scalp and roots. I massage for up to 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. The goal isn’t to get my hair super duper squeaky clean but clean enough.

Deep condition and detangle – 45 minutes:
This is one area in which I’ve shaved off a lot of time with the realizations that:

1) finger detangling for hours does not benefit my hair any better than a few minutes of finger separating followed by gentle comb detangling with conditioner AND

2) so long as I keep my hair in a fairly “detangled” state (e.g., protected) between washes, the detangling process goes by easier.

After washing, I squeeze and blot out excess water from my hair and then apply a detangling conditioner (e.g., Suave Coconut, Tresemme Naturals), comb detangle and then apply a deep conditioner (e.g., ORS Replenishing Pack, ApHogee 2‑Minute Keratin Reconstructor) on top of that focusing on the ends. I do this section by section until the last one, leave the conditioner on for another 5–15 minutes (with each of the four sections twisted and clipped), and then rinse section by section.

Plop to dry – 15 to 30 minutes:
This step is really easy and just involves me sitting with a towel wrapped around my hair for that time period while doing something on the computer, watching a show, etc. The goal is to get my hair anywhere from damp to damp-dry – but not completely dry – for styling. (My hair is still in twisted sections at this point.)

Moisturize, style and done – minimum of 20 minutes:
Finally, I moisturize and style into big twists or braids (for twist out or braid out), which can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

2. LOW OR INDIRECT HEAT OPTION:

When I don’t have much time but also don’t mind using a little heat, the following routine is usually my go-to these days. My aim is not to get my hair bone straight or completely dry but very stretched and almost dry in a short amount of time. Here are the details of each process:

Wash – 10 minutes:
Same as above.

Deep condition and detangle – 45 minutes:
Same as above.

Plop to dry – 10 to 15 minutes:
Same as above but for a shorter period of time. The goal is to remove excess water and get my hair closer to damp than damp-dry.

Moisturize, protect and low-heat drying – 30–45 minutes:
This is something I did a couple years back and to which I am recently returning. Again, my aim is not to get my hair bone straight or completely dry. Rather, it is to get my hair very stretched and almost dry in a short amount of time. I like to use wet-to-dry flat iron with steam vents (on medium heat) for this but a blow dryer can also do the job. Heat protectant is a must, though.

Style and Done – minimum of 20 minutes!
Moisturize and style into chunky twists or braids, which take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

 

How do you cut down on your wash day?

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Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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JENNID
JENNID
6 years ago

To save time I prepoo with coconut oil and finger detangle the day before I wash. This has cut down wash day dramatically for me. Next day I add my deep conditioner on top of my oiled and detangled hair. Let that soak in for 30 minutes while I eat breakfast and get my coffee sipping on. Then I simply go and shampoo it all out. I let it plop dry with a tshirt as I get dressed, put in some leave in and seal that in with an oil of some kind. To style its either a true wash… Read more »

debra
debra
6 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

Good advice!

Carleee
Carleee
6 years ago

Nice post. I am also committed to taking as little time as possible to style my natural hair, while still maintaining high moisture levels and wearing my hair out every day. I’ve gotten my time down to about an hour from wash to dry. I shampoo and condition my hair. I don’t deep conditioner because my leave in conditioner is super effective. Then I wrap my head in a microfiber towel for about 5 minutes. I add my leave in. Then I use the tension method to blow dry my hair. It is basically a 60–70% stretched afro. My 4c… Read more »

NaturallyNeesh
NaturallyNeesh
6 years ago

I too don’t have a wash day. I really don’t understand why it takes some sooooo long to wash and condition etc. Great post.

elsa
elsa
6 years ago
Reply to  NaturallyNeesh

(sorry for my english )I use shikakai to wash my hair. The only products i found who don’t let my hair too dry after shampoo. Apply this product on my hair is time consuming because I have lot of hair and I have to make 12 sections to apply the product correctly on my scalp. I have lot of dandruff and I have to remove them correctly during the process = 30 minutes minimum. Then I put a conditioner for 30 min and rinse it for 10 minutes. Then I detangle with the denman brush (30 sections, I have a… Read more »

laa
laa
6 years ago

this is a great post! i have 4b/4c/4a (so many textures lol) hair and it doesnt take that long to wash and detangle but probably longer than others because i have psoriasis and i have to be very gentle. cuz im still at home (im a teen lol) i usually get my mum to make sure my scalp is completely clean but other than that it never takes too long. i used to get worried i was working too fast!

lala
lala
6 years ago

Alot of us natural dedicate a whole day to washing our hair. The good thing is that with time we realise it doesn’t have to be that way

ManestreamBeauty
6 years ago

I like this. Thanks for sharing. I will try it out on wash day.

ericajoy
ericajoy
6 years ago

LOVE. THIS. As I grow my hair out for the third or fourth time (after cutting it off every time b/c of how much time it took) I’m always looking for ways to be quicker this time. This is super helpful!

Carlyssa
Carlyssa
6 years ago

This is somewhat what I do, but I deep condition and detangle first and the whole process takes about 3 hours since I do smaller braids/twists. I can’t do big ones yet since my hair is shorter and shrinks to a length that big braids and twist just unravel if I make them big 🙁

good luck
good luck
6 years ago

Sorry but I just don’t believe that detangling only takes 15mins with all that hair

Chanda
Chanda
6 years ago
Reply to  good luck

I thought it was 45 minutes (for the whole process). That’s plenty of time.

Truth Hurts
Truth Hurts
6 years ago
Reply to  good luck

I dont either, she also said: “I first finger separate my hair (i.e., not finger detangle but finger separate an old chunky twist-out, chunky braid-out, or set of big twists) which takes no more than 10 minutes. ”

that is DETANGLING which is added to the 15 mins totaling 25 mins to detangle.

napturally kia
napturally kia
6 years ago
Reply to  good luck

why don’t you believe her? lol. when you get proficient at something the time spent on it decreases…

Chanda
Chanda
6 years ago

Never understood the wash and detangle all day long method either. What in the world are they doing? Yes, a great detangling conditioner works wonders on wash day and gentle combing. I love Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat, and Aussie Moist 3‑minute Deeeep. I use a rinse out conditioner and deep conditioner as well but never thought to layer one on top of the other before rinsing out. I might try that out.

linda
linda
6 years ago
Reply to  Chanda

Actually the layering of rinse-out conditioner and deep conditioner is more known than we think within the community. I remember discussing that on this forum as the “Ouidad method”. The difference with the Ouidad method is that you deep condition with heat, wait a few minutes for the deep conditioner to cool down and add your rinse out conditioner on top work it through your hair and rinse the all out. I used to do that but the savvy natural in me just found out my hair didn’t needed all of that and I was just wasting products and money. As… Read more »

Erica
Erica
6 years ago
Reply to  linda

Where do u order your black soap

linda
linda
6 years ago
Reply to  Erica

I’m blessed to have a friend whose mom bring it straight from women cooperatives in West Africa. I can get some from my relatives as well. But when I’m really out and in an emergency I use the Alaffia African black soap bar unscented not the liquid version ( you can use the liquid version but I don’t because they add lauryl glucoside and also I found out that bar soap last me longer than liquid soap ). This is the only “brand” I can recommend because I’ve used it, compared it to what I know and is the most… Read more »

Khaya
Khaya
6 years ago
Reply to  linda

I also have Lo Po hair and it’s a struggle at times to keep it feeling moisturised and buildup free. I love how simple your washing and detangling routine is. I just have a few questions. How often do you wash your hair and what do you use to make your clay mix recipe? Also how often do you moisturise your hair and what do you use? How do you seal your cuticles after you have steamed your hair — do you use ACV or Aloe vera juice and do you use these as a final rinse at all?

Jasmine
Jasmine
6 years ago

I have pretty long hair and I don’t have a wash day either. I think it takes some people SO long because they are just doing the most and/or not using their time wisely. If you want to prepoo, cool. Slap on some coconut oil the night before and prepoo while you sleep. Shampoo in the morning, deep condition for an hour TOPS (no heat, 15–20mins with heat), detangle under the shower head and get on with your day! I see some women doing prepoos, masks, tea rinses, oil treatments, etc all in one day. STOP! lol.

elsa
elsa
6 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

the longer your hair is the bigger you can make section for the wash process and the moisturizing process. And it changes everything. If you have dandruffs it take a long time too, to wash the scalp correctly. If you have low porosity it take a long time to have an optimal hydration. If I moisturize my hair only in 15 minutes, 15 minutes later it is SUPER DRY.

Great
Great
6 years ago

I have 4c hair as well that comes to about my shoulder. I always wondered why people had full wash days because it only takes me 2–3 hours total

Jas
Jas
6 years ago

Great article. Everyone hair is different but I never understood when some people say it takes them hours just to detangle their hair. But whatever works for the individual. 🙂 I’m team keep it simple.

elsa
elsa
6 years ago
Reply to  Jas

because they have to make more section when they have high density of hair

Lénora
Lénora
6 years ago

I am so afraid of this flat iron that you can use on wet hair, the rule ” never use a flat iron on wet hair” is stuck in my head.

Otherwise, I don’t take either an all day to wash my hair, but i guess bc I let my hair air dry so I style it the day later (if I feel like it :))

linda
linda
6 years ago
Reply to  Lénora

Exactly, I’m afraid of them as well. Using a hot tool on wet hair equals boiling the hair to me no matter how much steam can escape via the vents.

Monica
6 years ago

2 hours !!! I take 1 hour alone to wash my APL 4b hair ! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Monica

You’re not doing anything wrong, Monica. Everyone is different, and I wish people would keep that in mind when they criticize other people’s regimens (side-eyes judgments about spending 2+ hrs on hair). I have kinky, coily, shrinky hair that ranges from BSL to shoulder length when stretched (yup, I’m layered), and I don’t use combs. I just shortened my prewash routine by an hour through incorporating sprAngz instead of braiding/twisting, but even so, I probably won’t be done with my hair completely until 4 or 5 pm tonight.I started at 1pm. While I respect Chinwe’s routine and advice, I know that… Read more »

elsa
elsa
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

Thank you! people are so judgmental!

linda
linda
6 years ago
Reply to  Monica

Just like Dananana said you’re not doing anything wrong. Each one of us got his/her own routine based on what he/she prefers and how the hair reacts. Including detangling time with my Q redew, I’m usually done within an hour. I use my homemade clay mix, clay soaps or real African black soap (with/without extra glycerin or honey ) to clean my hair and use my oil mix and/or butter as a leave-in on damp hair ( I sit under a hooded dryer with a plastic cap on to steam) and air dry. That’s it for me, very simple but… Read more »

AyaBlu
AyaBlu
6 years ago

For long, natural hair (back length when straight and ear length when afro’ed) with a tender head — only detangle hair in the wash, not before. And only wash it in a shower, not leaning over a sink or tub etc. The water makes your hair flexible so that you can detangle. The downward water pressure and gravity makes it easier to comb/detangle (idk why). The following process should take ~30–35 min including detangle, wash, condition and bathing. Stand in the shower with the water spray directly on your head, so that your hair will be saturated. Roughly part your… Read more »

am
am
6 years ago
Reply to  AyaBlu

This sounds like almost exactly what I do. My hair is shoulder length and I shampoo weekly due to dry, itchy scalp. Personally, the only reason it takes me up to an hour to wash my hair is because I have dense, thick hair and it sometimes takes a while to distribute products. And I air dry, which takes hours. Other than that, as long as I have a good detangling conditioner, I can get through the cleansing/styling process pretty quickly.

Yvette M
6 years ago

Ever since I moved back home, I have been cutting down on my weekly wash time. Right now, if I prepoo, I do it the night before (and finger detangle, and section my hair using braids), the next day I shampoo, only DC for more than 10 minutes if my hair feels dry, condition for 10 minutes tops, , plop for 30 minutes then do my threading to fully airdry. I am transitioning which may be why I do it so fast, and I don’t have the time or energy to spend on a longer wash

Caray
Caray
6 years ago

I have APL 4a/4b high density hair and depending on how Im wearing my hair it can take and hour to detangle and most of my hair is in small twist for weeks and it take a while to detangle but if its in a twist out (which I havent worn in months) in can only take 30 mins to detangle.

LBell
LBell
6 years ago

This past weekend I spent more time on my hair than I have in a LONG time…all because it was time for my quarterly dust/trim and I wanted to make sure I was both thorough and precise. With the help of a LOT of coconut oil I finger-separated every single one of my coils down to the root. Total time, about 8 hours. O_o I’m glad I did it that way because with the SSKs I would have lost a lot more hair by combing but seriously…there’s no way in hell I’d do this every week or two weeks. Four… Read more »

Treacle
Treacle
6 years ago

How do I minimise the time it takes? Slap on some conditioner mixed with oil, detangle whilst rinsing under the shower, t‑shirt head-wrap & then plait/twist/style. JD!

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