Washing afro hair can take a loooong time, so long that some naturals can dedicate a whole day (even a weekend) to just washing their hair. Personally I don’t have the time or stamina to spend a whole day washing my hair, so when creating a wash-day routine I decided to keep it simple and you should too!
|Unfortunately, I never look this good washing my hair :P|
How often will I wash?
When I say wash here I mean with shampoo. Shampoo cleanses the hair and scalp by removing the sebum coating the strands. This leaves the hair dry as it allows water to escape from the strand. This is why after you wash you have to condition your hair also (conditioners contain substances which coat the strands like oil but do not get washed away as easily as oil does). As it is more difficult for sebum to travel down Afro hair then straight hair, Afro hair does not become greasier the longer it is left between washes (in fact it gets drier as the sebum builds up on the scalp) so it does not need to be shampooed as often. Because of this I would advise when washing your hair you start off doing the least, so start off shampooing once a month and if you find your scalp becomes dirty quickly between washes add another wash day.
But won’t my hair become super smelly?
No, because you can co-wash! Co-washing is using conditioner to cleanse your hair. Shampoo strips afro hair of moisture so washing too often with it can cause kinks and curls to look and feel lackluster. Conditioners on the other hand have enough surfactants in them to remove product build-up from creams and oils (hence why they bubble slightly when you wash them out) but don’t remove all of the moisture. So your hair will feel clean, smell nice and be moisturised. I co-wash when I feel my hair is becoming pretty dry (or if my hair smells a bit frowzy :S).
Will you pre-poo?
As a type 4 natural with very coarse strands, a pre poo (applying oils and/or conditioner before washing with a shampoo) dramatically changed the state of my hair. Applying oil and conditioner before you shampoo means that your strands aren’t completely stripped clean once you wash them, retaining moisture. One of the things that helped my dry hair retain moisture was applying a pre-poo to it the night before my wash day. If you have oils in your pre-poo, you’re better off sleeping with it in your hair as it can take 14 hours for an oil to penetrate the strand. Conditioners fully saturate the hair in about 30 mins so you don’t have to keep them on as long.
Wash loose or in twists/braids?
If your hair is quite short you can get away with washing your hair loose, but the longer your hair gets the more likely it is to start tangling up (especially if it very kinky-coily). Once again do the least - start off washing your hair loose and if it knots up too much for your liking wash your hair in twists.
Detangle before or after?
I would advise detangling your hair with just a wide tooth comb at first. Don’t worry about buying Denmans or Tangle Teezers. If you are choosing to wash your hair in twists, detangle before hand so each twist stays detangled during the wash process. If you are washing your hair free, detangling it after shampooing when you have a deep conditioner in your hair. If you have just taken out braid/twist extensions or a weave detangle before washing! Otherwise after you wash you will be tearing out chunks of matted hair (believe me it’s happened to me before).
Don’t worry about washing your hair under a running shower…
Personally I don’t like standing under the shower to wash my hair, it can get very slippery with all that conditioner plus it’s a huge waste of water! I just bend over the edge of the bath. Some people even wash their hair in the sink so you don’t have to stand under a running shower if you don’t want to. Nothing bad will happen!
Apple cider vinegar: A cold ACV rinse after conditioning is a nice way to reestablish the pH of your scalp. The scalp (and skin) is acidic so even pouring water on your scalp causes the pH to change causing the cuticle to open up. To close the cuticle pour cold diluted ACV (about 2 tbsps in a cup of water) after you’ve totally finished washing your hair. This will make your hair more shiny, soft and thoroughly clean. Also clean your scalp with the pads of your fingers, don’t scratch with your nails!
(BTW sorry we haven't written anything in a while. I've been pretty busy with exams and my dissertation, I've finally finished my intercalated year, wahey! So back to medicine! But for the mean time I'm on my summer holiday so I should be posting more often... Zainab though... she's just lazy)