Natural & Curly Hair For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
The most basic way to take care of your curly and textured hair is to wash it, but you need to know a lot about how to handle your hair when it’s wet and, quite frankly, the most vulnerable.

If you’re like most people, you probably have a love-hate relationship with your beautiful kinks, coils, and curls: especially on wash day. Each week, you procrastinate as much as possible by co-washing or using your favorite style-refresher products to go as long as you can between washes. Am I right?

I know it’s not that you don’t want clean hair. It’s all the sectioning, detangling, pre-washing (if needed), shampooing and conditioning, setting, drying, and finally styling. It’s exhausting. Trust me, I get it.

Here’s the trick, though: Creating a routine and sticking to it can make wash day less of a chore and more of a delightful experience. Wash days should be experimental and fun — and hopefully something to look forward to.

If you’ve lost the joy in your wash day (or never had it), I’m here to help. In this article, I go over how often to wash your hair, how and when to detangle, the joys of co-washing, and (most importantly) how to properly shampoo and condition, along with other tips you can use for wash day.

Set your wash day

Of course, your wash-day schedule all depends on your specific hair type and texture, but as a professional, I generally recommend that folks wash their hair at least once per week. You can go longer between washes, but don’t go any longer than two weeks. If you have finer hair or extra buildup, you can try washing your hair twice a week.

Choose whatever schedule works best for your needs. Just keep in mind that to have a successful wash day, you need to do all the steps I outline in this article — and do them in order!

Make sure you have time for detangling, shampooing, conditioning, and any drying or additional styling at the end. So, choose a day in which you have at least a couple of free hours. You can’t rush good hair care!

If you have especially coarse, dry, or damaged hair, you can use another technique called co-washing, where you use conditioner in place of shampoo.

Ow! Detangling your hair

The first step of any wash day is detangling. For some people, detangling their hair can be the most tedious and time-consuming process of a wash day. But fear not! I’ve got you covered from root to tip.

The detangling process is different from person to person, but here’s some guidance that can help you minimize excessive snagging and breakage.

First and foremost, set aside enough time. Detangling can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. I know, I know. You might be tempted to skip this step, but don’t. If you wash your hair without thoroughly combing and detangling your hair first, you can make your tangles worse by matting them when you add shampoo and excessive water during the wash step.

I don’t recommend detangling dry hair because it’s less flexible than wet, and you can end up damaging your hair’s cuticle. However, if you choose to detangle your hair dry, do not rush! Go very slowly! It’s important to be extra gentle to avoid snapping strands or damaging that cuticle. And if you have extra thick or coarse hair, you’re going to have to dig deep and be extra patient.

When you’re preparing to detangle your hair, you can make the process go more smoothly if you have the right tools on hand. Get yourself:
  • A rat tail comb
  • A wide-tooth comb
  • Your favorite detangling product to add some slip (lubrication that reduces friction, making it easier to move combs or fingers through your hair) to your hair strands
  • A few clips or ties
Now that you have the right tools at the ready, follow these steps to detangle your hair:
  1. Use a rat tail comb to section your hair into at least four to eight sections, depending on how thick and dense your hair is. You can use hair clips, hair ties, or loose plaits (braids) to keep the sections separate. Working in small sections makes your hair more manageable and ensures that you’re thoroughly removing all the knots. Pre-sectioning can help give you more control over your mane and set you up to properly detangle. I’ve been a professional hairstylist for over 20 years, and still to this day, one of my most useful styling practices is pre-sectioning.
  2. Add a softening agent to your hair, such as a detangling or leave-in conditioner. Keeping your curls hydrated while detangling creates important slippage.
  3. If your hair is extra tangled, try finger detangling first. After sectioning and moistening your hair, start at the ends of one section. Slowly separate the hair in that section with your hands, removing shed hair, tangles, and knots while you go. Take your time. If you rush and try to yank or pull, you could damage or break your hair further.Also, if your hair isn’t very tangled at all, you may be able to get away with just finger detangling and don’t need to continue on to the rest of these steps!
  4. Comb the hair out with a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush, one section at a time. Start at the ends and work out any knots while you travel up to the roots. This process prevents unnecessary tugging and pulling at the roots, which causes more damage. Use a plastic cap to cover the sections that you haven’t detangled yet. This cap helps stop your hair from drying up.
With curly hair, you need to create as little friction as possible, so detangle your hair only on wash day, as long as you can keep it in good condition between washes. In other words, detangle only once every one or two weeks.

You may find the need to finger detangle a little more often between wash days if you’re styling has interrupted your curls, or you forgot to sleep in your bonnet, or something like that.

Sleeping in a silk or satin head covering or on silk or satin pillowcases can help minimize friction and maintain your curls between wash days.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Johnny Wright is a celebrity hairstylist with over 30 years of experience in the industry. He was personal stylist to Michelle Obama during the Obama administration. Since 2016, he is a personal stylist to Tamron Hall, and says he owes his success to the early memory of watching his grandmother curl hair on their front porch.

This article can be found in the category: