Nothing new to see here, folks: I live in a wash and go. If I had to say that I’ve mastered one natural hair style, this would be it. I know which techniques work best for distributing product in my hair, what gels or creams yield what type of results, how to make them last, and more.
I’ve been an advocate and a defender of the wash and go method, debunking myths and misconceptions wherever I go. :::puts on cape::: Many naturals think wash and go styling is only for “certain” types of curls, is too cumbersome and laborious, or is just outright damaging to the hair. I’m here to offer my annual reminder that none of the above is true.
In fact, wash and go’s are considered a protective style.
Protective styling is all about, well, protecting the hair from weathering, breakage, splitting, weakness, and dryness due to over-manipulation of our delicate curly strands. What if I told you that a wash and go could offer all of that and more?
Just hear me out:
1. Minimal Manipulation
Unlike twist-outs, blowouts, braidouts, and other styles, the wash and go doesn’t require excessive brushing, combing, tugging, pulling, stretching, and other manipulation that can leave hair in a weakened state. At its core, the wash and go is a relatively straightforward process: cleanse, deep condition, add product, and go. Naturals like to add other steps into the mix (like my mud rinse), diffusing, plopping, and more — but none of them are absolutely vital to the wash and go process. Beyond their relative simplicity, wash and go styles last for days. At minimum, you can get 3 days out of a wash and go before you need to really go in and touch up or wash and start over. I’ve seen some naturals wear wash and go styles for 10+ days (my personal record is 9).
2. Gel is Protective!
Did you know that your curl defining gel is actually a sealant? If you’ve ever checked up on your hair as it dries, you’ll notice that your curls will clump together and form a coating around the hair. Initially, this “crunch” seems unappealing, but what it does is provide a barrier between your hair and the elements while your hair is in its weakest state (wet). Additionally, the gel cast helps with moisture retention and reducing tangling by keeping your hair clumped in small sections. If you still have the “crunch” after your hair is dry (and you’re not a fan), you can always scrunch it out with a little butter or oil.
3. Clumped Curls are Stronger
You know the saying, “We’re better together than we are apart”? That applies to your natural hair as well. Our highly textured tresses are relatively delicate individually, but when clumped as a unit, they’re unstoppable! Okay, maybe I’m being a little overzealous, but clumped curls are stronger than separated strands. Be sure to use the praying hands method or rake & shake to encourage more clumped curls. You can also help improve curl clumping by using bentonite clay [easy DIY recipe here].
4. It Gets Better
When it comes to wash and go’s, the more often you do them, the better the results. Once you begin to integrate products that your hair responds well to and that give you desired results, the process becomes much more seamless and drama-free. If you can find a co-wash or curly shampoo that has enough slip to detangle or help keep your hair from tangling, you’ll endure less breakage in the wash process. Deep conditioning will also help improve strength and elasticity, while minimizing frizz and improving curl memory. Once you have the leave-in(s) and gel combination your hair responds best to (or whatever curl defining styler you prefer), everything from there is smooth sailing. Just remember — mastering the wash and go does take some trial and error, but once you succeed, you won’t want to do anything else!
Related: 7 Secrets for the Perfect Wash and Go [video]
If you need some more tips on wash and go styling, or a few leads on curl definers that actually work, check out these gems:
And if you need one final piece of information to convince you, check out my growth and length retention progress:
Ladies, what are your thoughts? Do you view wash and go’s as a protective style? Why or why not?