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6 Steps to Curb Tangles When You Wash and Go

Avatar • Aug 16, 2014

WNG_natural_hair_2011by Elle of Quest for the Perfect Curl (pictured above)

When women used to tell me that they “couldn’t” do wash and go’s, I’ll be honest, I kind of gave them a side eye. After all, how can you not do a wash and go? Basically, it just means wearing your hair in the state of your natural texture. In my opinion, it doesn’t require a certain look, curl pattern or length that many women make the focus of this “style” (I don’t even really call it a style because slapping some gel on my hair isn’t styling it to me). However, there is one reason for not wearing wash and go’s that I do understand – tangles. As your hair shrinks in its natural state, your hair strands can become intertwined with one another and cause troublesome knots and mats, making wash and goes near impossible without dire consequences.

I too experienced this issue as my natural hair became longer. Before it began to hang in different directions, I had no issues with wash and go’s. I could even opt to use only conditioner or apply product to my whole head at once. However, as my hair grew, I noticed that my current technique wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to make some changes to avoid detangling for four hours and remain happy with my natural hair. I was always a “wash and go gal.” So opting for alternative styles on a regular basis was not an option. Once I implemented these techniques and tweaks to my wash and go routine, my tangle worries minimized.

1. Wash your hair in sections! If I wash my hair all at once, the curls go all over the place. Clip your hair up using a plastic or non‐rust clip and shampoo/conditioner each section separately. I do four sections.

2. Lightly finger detangle your hair before applying product to reduce freezing knots in place. Of course, a full detangling session is most beneficial, but I don’t like to detangle my hair right before doing a wash and go because it breaks up my curls.

3. Apply your products in sections, especially if you have hair as thick as mine! Although, I can prevent frizz by applying product to my hair all at once, the product will not reach the under layers. Applying product in sections helps ensure your hair is thoroughly moisturized. The number of sections you need to do will depend on your length and thickness – I’m good with about eight sections.

4. Make sure you apply product at the roots. Most of my tangles form at my roots. Applying product to my roots makes them easier to work with. This will also help decrease tangling issues when you have shed hair. If you have finer hair, avoid using oils or heavy products.

5. Use a natural, alcohol‐free gel. I know that some people are against gel. But when I try to use only conditioner, my hair experiences more shrinkage and tends to knot up like crazy because there is nothing holding my curl pattern in place.

6. ALWAYS sleep with a satin scarf or on a satin pillowcase. Cotton causes more friction, which leads to more tangles while you sleep.

These tips are obviously not the end all be all, but they definitely worked for me and have consistently over the years. Remember, you may need to do some experimenting with your own hair to find what techniques work for you, which is the frustration and fun of having natural hair.

 

Do you have any tips for decreasing tangles when you wash and go?

Elle is the owner and editor of Quest for the Perfect Curl, a collaborative YouTube channel and blog dedicated to promoting healthy hair through research and the sharing of information. A former product junkie, Elle promotes the importance of product ingredients, knowing your hair properties, and your climate when choosing what products to use on your natural hair. She also frequently explores healthy hair care practices and methods to achieve the “perfect curl,” which to her is big, healthy hair.

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xmarisolxMary in MdIjeomaThick Nigerian HairDecor Recent comment authors
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Mia
Guest

Where can I find alcohol free gels?

Thank You 🙂

Brittany
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Brittany

Hi Mia,

Eco Styler gel is an alcohol free gel, or you could do a search on google “alcohol free hair gels” and that should give you a list of options.

Hope this helps
Brittany

Prettydarkskinnedgirl
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Prettydarkskinnedgirl

The Ecostyler line of gels is alcohol‐free & the olive & argan oil types are very good at not being drying or flaky or causing the itchies.

LBell
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LBell

Most gels that are alcohol‐free will say they are on the label.

To the subject: All of the tips you mention, Elle, have been very beneficial for me, especially this year, which is the first time I’ve ever chosen a loose (non‐protective) style as my standard style at this length. The longer my fine mostly‐4b hair gets, the more important it is for me to stick to those tips because when I deviate, the resulting tangles have the potential to create a serious setback.

Kelsi Briana
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Kelsi Briana

You can make flaxseed gel at home, there are tons of tutorials for it online. Hope this helps 🙂

Kenya L.
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Kenya L.

Eco styles gels are alcohol free.

herlucidsky
Guest

Eco styler gels and Xtreme wet line styling gel are alcohol free. You can find them at beauty supply stores.

There are both good and bad alcohols. Fatty alcohols such as cetyl alcohol can be beneficial to the hair. Jc’s scientific hair blog has a few articles on alcohols.

Here’s one that may help you have a better understanding: http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2011/01/ingredients-dictionary-cetyl-alcohol.html

herlucidsky
Guest

Excellent tips as usual Elle. This is how I do my occasional wash n go’s as well. I think that applying the product with fingers only vs using a denman like brush gives the best wash n go’s because I’ve experience virtually no frizz and less shrinkage. Also, when wash day comes around it is a breeze for me, which is a big deal considering I have thick tailbone length hair. You see, when the water hits those strands, the gel reactivates giving you crazy amounts of slime and slip which melts my tangles away and the shed hair slides… Read more »

Jacky
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Jacky

Nice tips, thanks for sharing! I love your hair and make up too.
P.S. Do you know how to preserve wash n go’s for a week? I really need help with that. Nightly Bunning my wash n go makes it flat by day 5 but sleeping on a satin pillowcase without using any stretching method to preserve it makes it shrink each night until it’s a tangled little fro.

Decor
Guest
Decor

After styling with Eco styler gel, I pineapple my hair at night and wear a satin scarf. Daily as needed, I only apply product to my to my edges(Long Aid gel). It lasts for a week or more. I can do up to 2 weeks, if I top bun it, to keep it stretched and free from tangles.

Saffron247
Guest
Saffron247

Try ecostyler, fantasia ic gel, kinky curly custard just to name a few.

Thick Nigerian Hair
Guest
Thick Nigerian Hair

Does anyone use the Shea Moisture curling souffle gel for wash and go’s?

Ijeoma
Guest
Ijeoma

i use it occasionally. its very moisturizing, but because of the oil content and i believe it has agave in it, it can be sticky. for the best results i have to use very sparingly. like i rake in my leave‐in/moisturizer (the curl enhancing smoothie works well) and then smooth (not rake or shingle) maybe a nickel to quarter size max over each section ( i section my hair in to 4 sections when applying product for a wash and go). i like to sit under a dryer or diffuse when using this because my hair does seem to take… Read more »

xmarisolx
Guest
xmarisolx

This review is spot on.

xmarisolx
Guest
xmarisolx

I do, and I agree a lot with @Ijeoma assessment. However, I have fine hair, and it is getting longer (about shoulder length) and I have started to switch to products for finer hair. My hair is just so fine, it get’s hopelessly tangled if you just look at it. Heavy products only make it worse. But when I used it, I loved it. I might still use it more sparingly in the future.

Mary in Md
Guest
Mary in Md

I love wash and gos and Elle is the natural hair blogger that inspired me to take a serious look at this styling method as a standard in my hair regimen. After a nearly five year primarily protective styling regimen, I wanted to find a realistic option for showcasing all this hair I had grown without jeopardizing my hair’s health and causing significant set backs. I felt that braid outs and twist outs were too time consuming as a regular option. I also wanted to keep any heat styling options to a minimum. So, I want to see if I… Read more »

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