What Is a Wash and Go?
There are a ton of curly hair terms and wash and go tips to navigate, but the concept of a wash and go is pretty straightforward to understand. As the name suggests, a wash and go is a style that is born from literally washing your hair and styling it without the use of heat. It sounds simple, but it’s slightly more complicated to pull off. It’s certainly one of the most low maintenance of curly hairstyles, but how well it holds up depends greatly on the products that you use, how you protect your hair at night, and how often you shampoo and condition.
What Can I Use for a Wash And Go?
What you use to style your wash and go is just as important as the process itself. No matter what curl pattern you have, moisture is going to be key. Because your hair will be exposed to the elements and not shielded from potential breakage with a protective style, you want to make sure that moisture has fully absorbed into your hair and is sealed in with the right natural hair care products before it dries. Dried out wash and go curls will look frizzy, undefined, and likely won’t hold up for more than a couple of days before going limp or getting dry and crunchy.
Consider the following wash and go tips, complete with product recommendations, when styling your hair.
1. Start with a clean slate. Use a sulfate-free wash and go shampoo like the Sacred Tiare Sulfate Free Shampoo. Follow it up with a moisture-rich wash and go conditioner like the Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hydrating Conditioner.
2. Give your hair a cool rinse. A cool rinse helps to close the hair cuticle and ensures that the cuticle is properly sealed. This is what’s going to help give your curls a smooth finish before you get to your hair-styling products.
3. Use the LOC method. The LOC method suits your wash and go styling steps perfectly, but you’ll want to make sure you’re following the correct technique. Once your hair is clean and the first layer of hydration has been added, start with a hydrating leave-in conditioner. A formula like the Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Leave-in Conditioner has moisturizing ingredients like pro-vitamin B5 and glycerin that will actually penetrate the hair shaft and plump your curls from the inside out.
4. Pick the right products. The next two steps of your LOC curl cocktail will be determined by your curl pattern. This is where not being one-size-fits-all really comes into play. Tighter curls that are drier may want to apply a curl cream like Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Styling Pudding before sealing it in with a hair oil, like the Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil. Wavy textures or hair that’s medium to high porosity may benefit from layering the oil before the cream—in this case, you’re following the LCO method.
5. Keep your hands off. As you apply each layer, work in sections and work the product through from root to tip. Once all the product is applied, leave your hair untouched as it dries.
6. Consider your drying method. It may sound contradictory, but while most wash and go styles are air-dried, you can also use a hair diffuser for faster drying. Either way, make sure you know how to dry curly hair without damage.
How Do You Keep a Wash and Go Moisturized?
Retaining moisture with any curly hairstyle isn’t easy, but for a wash and go, leave-in conditioners like the Monoi (Repair + Moisture) Star Strength Leave-In Cream will be your best ally for hydrating in between washes. These conditioners work as curl refreshers that can be used to redefine limp and frizzy curls.
There are two ways to keep a wash ‘n go moisturized, both involving your leave-in. The first being as follows: Before bed, evenly apply a lightweight leave-in conditioner or a hair mask for curly hair and twist it into large sections prior to covering your hair with a bonnet or silk scarf. The alternative is to gently apply the conditioner to sections of your hair in the morning and then fluff or re-coil curls as you go.
How to Wet and Reset Your Wash and Go
There's a misconception with curly hair that water and re-wetting hair is bad, but it’s actually the exact opposite. It’s true that if not done right, it can mess with your style by making it frizzy and causing shrinkage, but adding moisture midway through a wash and go can actually make your hairstyle look as fresh as when you first styled it. If you’re using a lightweight refresher like the Hair Milk Refresher Spray that’s more liquidy, apply it sparingly—hair should feel moist and not saturated. Adding too much may make it take forever to re-dry, and when it’s not set properly, you can ruin your wash and go.
You’ll also want to twist or create Bantu knots after applying the product to allow your curls to reset. Try a more creamy formula like the Pracaxi Nectar Wash N’ Go Leave-in instead of a liquid. Creams can still impart moisture into your hair and give curls a bit more hold without taking so long to dry and set.
Why Is My Wash and Go Frizzy?
There are two main reasons why wash and go styles become frizzy: handling hair too much during the styling stage and not smoothing the cuticle properly before it dries. If you were to magnify a strand of hair, you’d see that each piece of hair has layers that look like shingles on the roof of a house. These layers raise up to let moisture and nutrients in and should be closed back down to seal it all in. A raised cuticle is what makes hair appear frizzy. Some things that can open a cuticle are humidity, friction from sleeping on or drying hair with rough fabrics, touching your hair too much, and scrunching before letting hair dry.
It’s best to apply your wash and go styler to soaking wet hair and be sure to seal and smooth the cuticle down with an oil or cream, as previously mentioned. Apply the Monoi (Repair + Protect) Multi-Styling Milk in a downward motion to seal the cuticle and then don’t touch it until it’s completely dry. Also, learning how to brush curly hair will help you avoid lifting the cuticle and making hair frizzy.
What Is the Best Wash and Go Hairstyle?
Technically, a wash and go is an actual hairstyle. Wash and go styles are usually worn loose, and the style itself is determined by your haircut and the length. You can wear your wash and go with curly bangs, a middle or deep side part, or slightly asymmetrical with a longer front and shorter back. There’s also a teeny-weeny-afro (t.w.a) wash and go for shorter hair or a voluminous curly afro if it’s longer.
Once it’s fully dry, you have even greater styling versatility. Here’s an option we love: Section hair into two halves from ear to ear and pull the front half into a top knot, leaving the back loose. You could also sweep one side up and add some hair clips or bobby pins to hold it in place. For any wash ‘n go, be sure to smooth down your edges at the styling stage with an edge control gel. No matter what you choose, know that your wash and go styling options can be really personalized.
Need further help nailing down your wash and go cocktail? Browse these 20 Natural Hair Products to Try in 2020.