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My Secret to Flawless, Long-Lasting Curl Definition

• Oct 4, 2015
How to Get the Perfect Wash and Go Curls on Natural Hair
Day 2 curls

I’m about that wash and go life, and at this stage in the game I’ve pretty much perfected my wash and go.

I mean dang, it only took me almost 2 years. Seriously, it took me 22 months to nail the wash and go. I had it pretty much down before coloring my hair, but once I took the color plunge in October 2014, I had to learn my curls all over again. Well, mama I made it!


In all that time learning, I spent a lot of money, tried a lot of products, experimented with a lot of cocktails, and spent many moons in the return line at Sally’s, Target, and Ulta.

In my opinion, it was time and money well spent because my hair is super healthy (the healthiest it’s been since being color treated), my curls are popping, and there are no “surprises” (flakes, dry hair, breakage, rough-feeling hair, white balls, etc.).

Oh. and my curls look just as good, if not better, than they did on day 1. What’s my secret? Keep reading to find out how I achieve curls like this in a few simple steps!


Step 1: Start With a Good Foundation
Clean hair and a clean scalp are must-have foundations for styling. My co-wash ace in the hole, A1 since we met, hair BFF/bae is none other than Be Kekoa Be Clean Cleansing Conditioner. I’m sure y’all are tired of hearing me talk about it, but this stuff is the TRUTH. My hair and scalp are clean, free of buildup, hydrated, smooth, soft, and de-frizzed flawlessly after each use. Be Clean leaves me with the perfect canvas to begin styling. If your co-wash or cleanser leaves you with tangles, hair that feels rough, frizzy, or otherwise not its best — you can’t expect to achieve your best style results, either.

Step 2: Repair/Restore
This step is totally optional, especially if you don’t have color treated hair. My hair always lets me know when it’s time to re-up on ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor. My curls will look a little limp, and seem a little looser than normal. After a few treatments with the Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor, my curls bounce back to life and have an extra spring in their step. I use the ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor as an intermediate step between cleansing and deep conditioning. It’s a 2–5 minute process, and totally foolproof.

Step 3: Deep Condition
I’ve talked here about the benefits of deep conditioning. And while I have many favorites (hey tgin, Hydratherma Naturals, and Shea Moisture), I ride hard for Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask. My hair loves it. In terms of styling, deep conditioning ensures that your hair remains healthy, hydrated, properly moisturized, de-frizzed, and elastic — all necessary components for healthy hair and long-lasting style. Deep conditioning helps insure that your hair’s internal hydration and exterior lipid barrier remain in tact. In other words, your deep conditioner should help keep your hair from going crispy and dry.

The Styling Arsenal

Step 4: Apply Leave-Ins to Soaking Wet Hair
This is nothing new, but I see lots of videos on YouTube and blog instructionals where leave-ins are applied to naked, damp hair outside of the shower or away from the sink. Everyone is most certainly able to do their hair their way, but for me that’s the quickest route to frizz city. When our hair is naked, it begins expanding in the search for moisture. This is the primary cause of poofiness and frizz. Don’t get me wrong, frizz is good and helps create extra volume. But for curls that are long-lasting and look amazing several days later, it is the enemy on day 1. My fix is two-pronged:

1. While in the shower, I apply Zotos Professional 180PRO Miracle Damage Eliminator to my hair from ends to root. It’s a lightweight primer, and lives up to its name and claims. My hair is always instantly stronger, shinier, smoother, and my curls pop even more every time I use it. I notice the most visible change on the ends of my hair. Instead of hanging a little looser, my ends form actual curls when they’re dry after I use Miracle Damage Eliminator. It’s a super lightweight serum that doesn’t dry out my hair, and more importantly, plays nicely with other products. I can’t say enough good things about this stuff. I’ve been in love since first use (the bottle is small but lasts a long time — a little bit goes a long way). I’m on my third full-size bottle and I don’t ever want to run out!

2. After applying my Miracle Damage Eliminator, I take generous amounts of Soultanicals Mango Dip Detangling slip and rake it through my hair. This stuff is botanical magic — seriously. Not only does it smell amazing, it’s an awesome detangler, and super hydrating leave-in. After I thoroughly apply the Mango Dip Detangling Slip, I employ my little trick to get my hair super saturated while eliminating frizz. I quickly (like seriously 1 second quick) run my hair back under the shower water and squeeze the products into my hair. I don’t wring out the excess. When I get to the ends of my hair, I squeeze the extra product and water back into the roots of my hair. This serves two purposes for me: one, I’m not sending precious product down the drain. Two, my roots are the most puffy, and putting extra product back on them helps keep them sleek and frizz free.

5. Learn the Oils/Butters Your Hair Loves, and Seal.
Sealing in all that yummy moisture is an integral component of a long-lasting wash and go style. When hair is truly hydrated and moisture is locked in, style-disrupting frizz and poofiness is diminished. For this particular wash and go, I’m holding on tight to Vitamin Shoppe Argan Oil. I alternate between Argan, Coconut, and Jamaican Black Castor Oil for 99.9% of my wash and go styles.

6. Gel It Right

There are tons of methods for applying curl defining gel — rake and smooth, rake and shake, rake, praying hands, using a Denman…the list goes on. I’ve learned exactly what methods produce what sort of curl. For a more elongated, stretched-looking curl I opt for the Rake and Shake method. For this particular curl that is long-lasting but still has tons of curl definition, I opt for my OG rake and smooth method. Working in small sections, I take a generous amount of my faaaave EcoStyle Argan Oil Gel, and smooth it on directly at the root.

I rake the remaining gel down the length of my curls, adding more if necessary. From there, I alternate between raking and smoothing to ensure that all curls are covered before moving on to the next section. Catch the method in action:

(Jump to 6:53 to see exactly how I apply curl definer)

Yes, I am heavy-handed with product and the reason is twofold. One, more generous product application means a firmer gel cast and a longer lasting wash and go. Two, the weight of the gel helps my hair to dry my hair in a somewhat elongated state, minimizing how disproportionate my shrinkage looks across multiple textures.

7. Air Dry
Air drying is a pain, and depending on your density and porosity, it can be an all day process. I don’t mind it though, because the alternatives are much more labor intensive and yield less favorable results. Diffusing pushes the hair upward toward the scalp and promotes shrinkage. Hooded dryers do the same, while keeping the hair flat to the head and reducing volume and bulk in the hair. I am not against shrinkage per se — I just have multi-textured hair and each section shrinks differently. To give the appearance of more uniform curls with volume and minimal frizz, air drying is the way to go.

But if you absolutely must diffuse… watch my Diffusing Hacks video here. 

How to Get the Perfect Wash and Go Curls on Natural Hair
Day 1 wet curls…
How to Get the Perfect Wash and Go Curls on Natural Hair
Day 4 curls! And y’all know I been working out.…

Because I love you guys, I’ve created a pinnable infographic that summarizes the information here. Pin it to your boards for safe keeping, and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!

How to Get the Perfect Wash and Go Curls on Natural Hair

Ladies, how do you get perfect curl definition?

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tracena barnwell
tracena barnwell
6 years ago

I’m a wash n go queen myself but I stick my kinky curly leave in &custard that works like a charm for me

The Darling Kinkshamer
The Darling Kinkshamer
6 years ago

I love kinky curly, but the custard makes my hair too stiff, I like the leave-in though.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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