Wash day! – If you ask me, I’ll tell you it is the best day of the week. Yes, I’m one of those naturals who absolutely enjoys washing her hair and everything that goes along with it. If time permitted, I would probably wash my hair every day. I love the feeling of water running against my scalp and of suds of shampoo spreading through my hair. I even use my scalp massager to get rid of all the product build up and don’t me started on how awesome it feels when you apply a conditioner with some amazing slip to your strands. Hands down, that is the best feeling ever.
Whether you do it every day, once a week, fortnightly or once a month, there will come a time when you will have to wash your hair. Why? Not just because it is a good and hygienic practice, but also because over time, products that we use in our hair often leave build-up and residue on the scalp and strands. The accumulation can prevent moisture, oils and other nutrients from penetrating the hair, leaving hair looking and feeling lacklustre.
But with all of this said, many naturals are extremely frustrated with the entire wash day process. Some say that it takes too long, some find themselves confused with the entire process while others say that even after they wash their hair, it still doesn’t seem clean or it feels a bit dry and brittle. I personally battled with the dry/brittle feeling post-wash in the earlier years of my natural journey, but after a good bit of trial and error and constant tweaking of my process, I finally found a wash day routine that works amazingly for my hair. What’s even more exciting for me, is that my wash day includes a line of locally made products.
Before your hair even gets touched by water, I would suggest that you pre-poo. A pre-poo, simply put, means before shampoo. It more commonly refers to oil that is applied to the hair and left on anywhere from 30 minutes to a whole day before the shampoo process. This can aid with the detangling process (which for many is the most frustrating part of the wash day experience). It can additionally prevent your hair from losing too much of its natural oils which may occur during the shampoo process. I use any light oil I have on hand because my strands are fine. These days, my pre-poo oil of choice is the Extra Virgin Coconut Oil from CGA Caribbean. I apply it to my hair, put my hair under a shower cap from the night before, and I take it off when I’m ready to start the shampoo process.
The main purpose of a shampoo is to remove dirt, build-up and oil from the surface of the hair and the scalp. While most commercial shampoos use surfactants to create that cleansing lather, I tend to lean more towards locally made shampoos as most of them are sulphate free. Even with the pre-poo, my hair felt stripped after using a sulphate-based shampoo. When choosing a shampoo to use in my hair, I decide based on how much build-up there is in on my hair and scalp. If my build-up is minimal, I use the Happy Curls, Happy Girls, Natural Soapberry & Apple Herbal Shampoo. If I have excessive product build up, I’ll whip out the Zoe Eden Chocolate Ambrosia Clarifying Shampoo or the Organic Touch New Amoebic Me Shampoo. And on the days when my hair is in between, I’ll use my shampoo bar from Ann Malina.
A conditioner is used to improve the feel, appearance and manageability of hair. It also helps restore moisture that was lost during the shampoo process. I will confess that I do not always condition after I shampoo. Sometimes I skip the conditioning step and go straight into deep conditioning. However, on the days when I’m strapped for time, and I’m not able to deep condition, I definitely ensure that I condition after I shampoo. The local conditioners that I currently alternate between are the Kylex Naturals Ginger and Ginseng conditioner, and the Happy Curls Happy Girls Natural Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner.
Deep conditioner/Protein Treatment/Hair Mask
If you’ve already conditioned, why do you need to deep condition or do a protein treatment? It’s because our kinky-curly textures could definitely benefit from an additional boost or treatment. I alternate between deep moisture and protein treatments so that I can prevent breakage, maintain my hair’s elasticity and ensure that my hair is able to retain moisture effectively. My favourite local hair masks currently in my product stash are the Happy Curls Happy Girls Coconut Milk Repair Masque & Deep Conditioner, PYUA Organics Flaxseed Gel Deep Conditioning and Strengthening Paste and the Zoe Eden Royalty Silk and Seaweed Treatment. After shampooing and/or conditioning, I apply a hair mask, cover my hair with a shower cap, and leave it on for 15 minutes to an hour.
To keep your wash day as frustration free as possible, keep the following in mind:
- Try the ‘break-down’ method for detangling. Instead of trying to pass a comb through your entire head, break your hair down into sections. Depending on the thickness of your hair, you could work with four to eight sections. This ensures that every part of your hair gets proper attention in the detangling process.
- Don’t reach for the comb just yet. I always detangle my hair with my fingers first. Once I finger detangle, I will then determine if I need to use a comb. If I decide that I want to follow up with a comb, I always use a wide tooth comb. Do not, I repeat, do not use a fine-tooth comb to detangle – that is a recipe for disaster.
- Detangle your hair from ends to root. This helps minimise hair loss that could happen due to knots being formed in your hair.
- No shower cap? No problem. You can substitute a shower cap with a plastic bag. You can tie the bag on your head or use an elastic band to keep it in place.
May the daunting task of cleansing, treating and detangling get easier, and who knows, even enjoyable. Happy wash day fellow naturalistas.