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Quick Tips on Washing Natural Hair

Updated on June 27, 2014

Washing natural hair can be a pain when it doesn't have to be. While there are some pretty drawn out hair washing practices, there are some shorter ones that not only gets the job done, but gets it done fast. Most naturals can tell you that they spend at least three hours washing their hair on "Wash Day."

Personally, mine is usually 3 to 6 hours and deep conditioning eats up most of the time. A 30 minute deep conditioning is just as effective as a 2+ hour one. To be honest, I get lazy with the deep conditioning and decide to leave it in longer than I have to. This is why my Wash Days are so long. I guarantee that if I were to cut my deep conditioning time down, it wouldn't be as long.


The Dreaded Wash Day

As naturals, we try to stall washing our hair as long as we can for resentment of the tedious process that can take up a whole day if we allow it. Natural hair care requires extra TLC. There are no chemicals or other straightening products that we us to loosen our natural curls.

It's not that we can't run out to the nearest store and buy a relaxer with swiftness, but we choose not to. Natural hair life didn't choose us. We chose it and with choosing to be natural there are some time consuming processes that comes along with it. Hair washing is one of them.

When you take time to care for something, the results are priceless. Natural hair care can be time consuming, but the love that's put in it promotes hair growth and strength. As the introduction stated, washing your hair doesn't have to be as lengthy as it is. You can practically cut your wash day in half by doing a few things. You could:

Prep Your Hair A Day Before Washing

Sleeping with oils and conditioners can soften your hair to decrease detangling time. All you would really need to do is shampoo to cleanse your hair of the oil and conditioner. Then, you'd apply a conditioner to replenish moisture. I usually follow-up with a moisturizing shampoo after using a stripping one, but that's just me.

Don't Spend So Much Time Detangling As You Wash

Truth be told: Your hair will become tangled as soon as you start the washing process again. Instead of spending your focus on detangling with conditioner, do a slight finger detangle before washing. What I've found to work is using a paddle brush to remove shed hairs before I do any washing. Naturals have banned combing dry hair, but it's works.

I part my hair in four sections and gently brush my hair tips with the paddle brush. This removes the shed hairs. Also, I don't shake and scrunch my hair while washing. Since I've taken time to detangle with the paddle brush, I apply shampoo and conditioners from the roots downward. This keeps my hair neat and decreases the time I'd spend detangling.

my hair after deep conditioning
my hair after deep conditioning

Fast Natural Hair Washing Tips

  • Finger detangle before applying washing agents
  • Focus shampoo on the scalp and allow the residue to clean your strands when rinsing
  • Instead of scrunching and shaking the hair while washing, apply the products from the roots downward. This can decrease detangling time.
  • Instead of detangling as you wash, save it until the final conditioning.
  • Don't forget to seal-in moisture using the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) or any other method you prefer

Shampoo is more for your scalp than it is for your strands. It ultimately cleanses your scalp and stimulates hair growth. Conditioners are for your strands because they moisturize them. Clarifying shampoos strip your hair so that it feels squeaky clean. Deep conditioners and moisturizers restore moisture.

Rinsing conditioned hair with cool water shocks your cuticles and seal in moisture. Your strands are cleansed when the shampoo is rinsed from your hair. It’s good to follow-up with a moisturizing shampoo after clarifying. It helps to restore moisture loss.

Here's a brief list of the major ingredients you should avoid in shampoos:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Propylene glycol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS or sulfates)
  • Parabens
  • Mineral oil
  • Petroleum

There are shampoos specifically designed to strip your hair. By "stripping," this means that you desire to thoroughly cleanse your hair of build-up and oil. After using a shampoo with stripping agents, replenish the lost moisture with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.

Oils such as tea tree or peppermint increases blood flow during scalp massages, which in turn promote hair growth. Be sure to consult your doctor for allergy information before using such oils. A healthy scalp is important for healthy growing hair.


Hair Washing in Three Steps

  1. Lightly detangle before washing
  2. Apply shampoos and/or conditioners from the roots downward
  3. Do a final detangle with conditioner

Washing techniques may vary depending on your hair's needs. These tips aren't to be taken as common natural hair law. They're just suggestions that you can consider if you feel the need. If what you're doing so far works for you, then that's fine. If you're looking to get in and out of your hair as quickly as possible, then you could try these tips. I forgot to mention that if you desire to deep condition, that would go between steps 2 and 3.

Don't Forget

  • Detangle
  • Wash
  • Condition and detanlge

Some Quick Hair Facts

  • Natural hair can go without washing longer than straight hair can
  • Diluted apple cider vinegar works just as well as shampoo in cleansing the scalp
  • Wash when your think your hair feels dirty
  • Natural hair doesn't need daily washing because it would dry out
  • Your lifestyle and hair texture will determine how often you should wash your hair
  • Not washing your hair more than a month is too long
  • A healthy scalp is key to healthy hair growth, which is why washing is important
  • No two hair washing routines are alike for naturals, so adapt to a routine that fits YOU

Quick Poll

How Long Does It Take To Wash Your Hair?

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What Happens When You Go Without Washing?

Washing your hair is the same as washing your body: It's necessary. The time lengths you go without washing your hair will vary. Some naturals feel washing once a week works well for them, while other naturals (such as myself) can wash their hair every two weeks. A sign that your hair may be due for a wash is itchy scalp. That's usually how I know when I need to wash.

I once could go a couple weeks without washing because I wear protective styles often. However, I'm finding that I may have to switch to being one of those naturals that washes once a week. My scalp is itching as I write this, but the sad news is: my hair is plaited. I definitely don't feel like taking them out, so I'll spritz my scalp with water and apply oil. I hope this works!

Anyway, what happens when you go too long without washing? Here's what:

  • You'll have itchy scalp
  • Hair growth may be stunted because hair thrives with a clean scalp
  • Cleansing your hair removes dirt and build up, which allows your scalp to breathe
  • You can subject yourself to scalp issues, so breakage is prone as a result of an unhealthy scalp

If you're unsure how often you should wash your hair, pay attention to itchy scalp. If you moisturize your scalp regularly and still have itchy issues, then you may need to pay the wash bowl a visit.


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