Throughout my hair journey (teeny weeny afro to waist length, and still growing!), I’ve mainly worn wash and gos. I like twists, braids, and updos, but I find them extremely time consuming, especially with longer hair (it takes me about four hours to twist my hair). Many people claim that our textured hair can’t grow to long lengths without protective styling, but can you call a wash and go a protective style? My answer — sorta. To me, a protective style is any style that protects your hair from mechanical and chemical damage, allowing it to thrive, mainly focusing on protecting the ends. So by that definition, a wash and go isn’t really a protective style because your ends are exposed to the elements.
However, I do consider it a low manipulation style, which also allows your hair to thrive and minimizes mechanical damage. I would even go as far as to say that if done properly, a wash and go can be better for your hair than twists and braids because those styles require more manipulation to the hair and the ends are still exposed unless you wear them in updos. Wash and gos are one of the lowest forms of manipulation to your hair (basically letting it do its own thing), can be worn for several days, and if your hair doesn’t rub against your shoulders your ends can be protected from the elements if you coat them with oil or another product that decreases friction.
When I do twists and braids, I lose way more hair as I’m doing the style as opposed to wash and gos, and people often retwist their hair frequently to keep the style fresh, which is a lot of manipulation. Also, if you leave braids and twists in for too long and don’t care for your hair properly, it can be a disaster. When I had box braids, I couldn’t imagine how some people don’t wash their hair the entire time they are in braids and don’t moisturize their real hair. And I’ll tell you…I watched a lot of braid videos and saw a lot of busted edges.
If you’d like to try wash and gos as a means to promote hair growth, here are some tips:
1. Decrease tangles by ensuring your hair is properly moisturized and using a holding product to keep your hair from tangling around itself. Check out my video on decreasing tangles for more detail.
2. If your wash and go touches your shoulders, decrease friction by wearing clothing that won’t catch on your hair, like leather, silk, or chiffon. This is even easier to do in summer because it’s tank top season!
3. Aim for multi-day hair by using a satin scarf or Sue Maesta hood at night so your hair doesn’t get all mussed up. Fluff it out in the morning and go! This is my night routine (still!) — super easy.
4. Don’t detangle your hair frequently — I usually aim for biweekly detangle sessions, then in between lightly finger detangle in the shower while I’m conditioning my hair.
5. Coat your natural hair with an oil or heavier moisturizer to not only decrease friction, but also help prevent single strand knots and split ends. “Sealing” hair has several benefits, and I definitely recommend it if your hair is longer.
6. Last but not least — let your hair do its thing!! Wash and gos do not have to look a certain way, so don’t spend a ton of time manipulating your hair trying to make it do something that it isn’t meant to do. I remember once I was discussing this with someone and they said that a wash and go isn’t a style, but more of a method. As I always say, let your hair be and it will thank you!
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with traditional protective styles, but it’s important to explore other options and see what works for you. Happy wash and going!
Do you think wash and gos can be a protective style?