When I went from relaxed to natural, I used to dread wash days because it was a nightmare detangling my hair and getting it to act right.
Back then, I just didn’t understand why at the sight of water, my hair strands would wrap themselves around each other and lead to over an hour long fight to detangle it, which invariably led to breakage and split ends.
However, with time came experience and I learned how to go about this without any tears as the years went on. Nowadays, wash day is fast, easy and completed in record time, with minimal hair loss. Below are the top 15 ways to have a hassle free wash day:-
Best Rules for Detangling Natural Hair
1. Avoid Dry Combing
Never ever try to dry comb natural hair. You will cry and you will get a big headache! Always start on damp hair and finger detangle as much as possible before using the comb. Read Combing Natural Hair.
2. Wash When You Have Time
Put wash day on a day when you actually have the time and patience to get through the steps. If you’re in a hurry, you will rip out hair in frustration because you just want to get it over with.
3. Trim Split Ends
If you have split ends, they cause even more tangles. Split ends cannot be fixed no matter what you do. There are no magical solutions that can fix split ends. You need to find some time to perform a mating ceremony between your ends and a pair of good trimming scissors.
4. Section Your Hair
Always do it in sections. No matter what you’re trying to achieve — styling, pre-pooing, shampooing, etc, if a liquid is coming into contact with your hair, it should be done in sections. When my hair was shorter, I did everything in 4 sections. Now that it’s almost APL, I do it in 2 sections. If your hair is extra tangled, you will have to do it in even smaller sections.
5. Pre-Pooing Makes a Difference
Pre-poo with a suitable oil mix. My favorite oils for this are coconut oil, grape seed oil, sweet almond oil and wheat germ oil. Pre-poo for at least an hour. You can add some other ingredients like blackstrap molasses and a protein conditioner if you like.
6. Dilute Your Shampoo
Unless you’re trying to clarify, shampoo with diluted moisturizing shampoo in sections. After applying the shampoo to each section, twist and pin up. Repeat for all sections then return to the first section. Untwist and rinse out until all sections are done. Do not try to detangle at this stage.
7. Choose a Creamy Deep Conditioner
After shampooing, apply an awesome creamy deep conditioner then finger detangle each section using the fingers on the ends and smoothing out for about 5 minutes before moving onto the next section. There is some patience required at this point. If you come across knots, gently work between your fingers to un-knot. Twist and pin up.
8. Detangle From End to Root
Detangle your hair from the ends to the roots, not the other way round. If you do it the other way round, you will cause an alarming amount of breakage.
9. Steam With Heat
Cover with a shower cap and steam for 45 minutes to an hour. Steaming with heat opens up the cuticles and allows the deep conditioner to work even better. It also makes hair more receptive to the rest of the products applied.
You can steam with Hair Therapy Wrap or a table stop steamer. Both are equally effective. I have the former for travel and the latter for when I’m at home. Another alternative is the Q-Redew Handheld Steamer.
10. Detangle More Than Once
Rinse out the deep conditioner then detangle again while in the shower with your fingers or another suitable detangling tool. Your hair should be like butter by now.
11. Don’t Leave Out the Leave-in Conditioner
Apply your leave in conditioner while your hair is still damp. Work through each section. Make sure all your strands are coated. Read 18 Best Liquid Leave-in Conditioners for Natural and Transitioning Hair and 18 Creamy Leave-in Conditioners for Naturally Curly Hair.
12. Style While Damp
Complete your style while your hair is still damp. Styling dry hair can be a bit challenging especially if you didn’t stretch your hair beforehand.
13. Air Dry Your Strands
Allow your hair to air dry as much as possible. A hairdryer is fast but depending on the style and your hair type, applying heat to finish the style might lead to a nightmare on the next wash day. The immediate aftermath may be dry and crunchy hair. I only apply heat when I’m blow drying before putting in braids or cornrows.
14. Dry Hair Hair with a Microfiber Towel
If you want to dry your hair a bit more before styling, use a good microfiber towel. Aquis Microfiber Hair Turban is a popular brand.
15. Wrap Your Hair Up at Night
After going through all that, make sure you sleep on a silk pillowcase or wear a silk or satin cap. Read 6 Best Ways to Protect & Preserve Your Natural Curls Overnight.
This might look like a super long process but I promise you, with practice, you will become more adept and get it done in less time. Your hair will also thank you for it in the long rum by rewarding you with length retention.