What is a wash and go?
A wash and go involves washing, conditioning and moisturising hair and leaving your hair as it is without stretching. Wash & Go hair is usually loose
Normally, after the washing process you would plait, twist or curl hair in order to stretch it. With a wash and go you cut the stretching stage out.
Why would you want to do a wash and go?
What is the disadvantage of a wash and go?
Massive shrinkage. By day two I find that my hair has shrunk so much that the styles I can do are very limited.
In my opinion, wash and gos last longer on looser curl types (4B, 4A, 3C and lower) as even after a few days the curls are loose enough to achieve a variety of styles which is not the case for my 4C hair. Note that I have looser curls up front and at the back but most of my head is 4C.
How can you make a wash and go last longer?
I find that a good quality gel such as a homemade flaxseed gel makes curls last longer with less shrinkage. That said, by day four you would find that your hair is very shrunken and in need of a shampoo and condition. You might not even be able to just co-wash because of the buildup of the gel.
As your hair gets longer you might find that wash and gos don't work as well even on 4B hair or even 4A hair. It all depends... if you haven't tried washing and going, it's definitely worth a try.
What's wrong with shrinkage?
There's nothing inherently wrong with shrinkage but it causes irritation for some because:
How can you stretch hair?
When your hair is wet, typically after your weekly wash and deep condition there are many techniques you can use to stretch it:
If your hair is dry dampen it a little before stretching. Dry hair does not stretch well.
Why not just stretch natural hair with a blow dry?
You could but heat damages hair over time so many people prefer to avoid heat styling where possible. Remember that heat damage is cumulative so every time you apply heat you increase the amount of damage done the last time. If your heat use is very irregular you're fine but with regular use you'll quickly notice the toll on your hair.
If you're too aggressive in dealing with knots and tangles you'll get unnecessary breakage, snagging and frustration!
To detangle hair effectively here are a few tips:
How can you avoid tangles?
Tangles and hair length? Long hair tangles more than short hair. My hair got a lot more knotty and tangly as is it grew longer.
Tangles and curl pattern: very curly hair will tend to tangle more than less curly hair.
Tangles and hair thickness: Thick hair will tend to tangle more than thinner hair.
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Natural Hair Growth Tip 6 - Combing! When, How, How much?
This is one area of hair management where everyone seems to have a strong opinion. Personally, my opinion is a little more tempered because I believe everyone is the queen of their own kink, curls and coils; once you've tried a few things, you'll know what your hair will accept and what it will not.
To comb or not to comb?
I comb weekly during my deep condition using a Neno Natural wide-tooth comb. A wide-tooth comb is much gentler on hair and the Neno Natural wide-tooth comb is specifically designed not to snag and break hair.
How to Comb?
Before combing hair it's always best to dampen it and add a little detangler or moisturiser or conditioner. This is called plasticizing the hair. Combing dry brittle hair leads to more snagging than necessary.
I finger comb and detangle first starting at the tips. If you effectively detangle the tips first you meet less resistance higher up and hence less hair breakage.
Why not just finger comb and abandon combs all-together?
I tried that for about the month and my hair was the most tangled it has ever been and it start looking very unhealthy. The thinner your hair or looser your curls are, the easier it is to stop combing but mine is just too thick and compact for a no-comb regime.
How about the denman brush?
I've used it once in over two years of being natural and I thought it was okay. I didn't get massive breakage but I did have more hair on the brush than normal. It was at the end of that no-comb month that I used the denman brush so it may well have just been shed hairs that had not been properly released.
Where can you get a set of our awesome detangling wide-tooth combs?
Amazon or NenoNatural.com. Each pack contains three combs: one green, one pink, one blue; just as in the picture above. You'll love it.
I actually only discovered this important fact in year two of being natural: the order in which you apply products impacts how long hair retains moisture.
Some people see more moisture retention with the LOC method, others with the LCO method.
L stands for liquid - this can either be just water, hydrosol or water that has been "fortified" with herbs and extracts that are believed to be good for hair.
O stands for oil - any vegetable butter or oils should do. I use Neno Natural's Hair Growth Stimulator. See my free whipped butters course if you want to make your own.
C stands for cream - creamy vegetable butter-based hair moisturisers or leave-in conditioners are ideal here. If you have thin hair just use a small amount.
Try both methods a few times to see what works best for you. Some people actually use one method on half of their head and the other method on the second half to test it out properly. The problem then becomes remembering which half got which treatment!
Remember, more moisture retention means your hair doesn't get dry and brittle. If your hair is not dry and brittle it is much less likely to break and you will retain more length. Simples :)
Get your FREE ebook on How To Grow Long, Healthy Natural Kinky or Curly Hair.
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How To Reduce Your Natural Hair's Porosity?
To stop your hair from drying out, you need to stop moisture leaking out of your hair and into the environment. One way to do this is to make sure your cuticle closes properly after you wash your hair.
Here's how you can do that:
If you are not using products of the same brand or line just get pH paper and ensure the conditioner you use is more acidic than the shampoo. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14; if the conditioner has a lower pH number than the shampoo, it's compatible.
What if the conditioner has a higher pH than the shampoo?
Remember, more moisture retention means your hair doesn't get dry and brittle. If your hair is not dry and brittle it is much less likely to break and you will retain more length.
You might also like: Hair Growth Tip 5 - How to Use Products To Stop Your Hair Drying Out
Rather than specifying a conditioner or a range of conditioners it's useful to know what a good conditioner should make your hair feel like.
I'm not listing specific products here because the products you can find in one state/region/district may be different to those found another.
As you try this and that conditioner you will know you are onto a winner if the conditioner:
How will you know if your feels nourished?
You'll just know! Your hair will feel different compared to the way it feels when you use other conditioners.
Different heads of hair
Keep in mind at all times that what works on one person may not work for you EVEN IF you seem to have the same type of hair. This was one of the first mistakes I made as a newbie natural. I just used the same products that my favourite YouTuber used for ages ignoring the fact that they weren't all great on my hair - seems obvious but it wasn't to me!!
For a variety of conditioners you might want to try see nenonatural.com/products.
Get your FREE ebook on How To Grow Long, Healthy Natural Kinky or Curly Hair.
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5 types of conditioner for natural hair and a frizz-free tip!
Product questions are way up there in terms of FAQs that I get. In this blog, I will tell you what to look for in a shampoo rather than which shampoo to buy because product availability varies from country to country and from one state or district to another.
What are you looking for?
Foremost: you are looking for a shampoo that cleans your hair but does not strip it too much of much needed oils.
Next: sulfates are very strong detergents so they do tend to strip black hair too much. Sulfates in themselves are not dangerous or harmful to health they are just "too effective" at cleaning. This is okay for greasy Caucasian and Asian hair but not generally for black hair.
So what to do?
Firstly, look for a sulfate free shampoo. In many places these are still very hard to find because sulfates are the commercial standard for shampoos.
If you cannot find a sulfate-free shampoo, people have tended to take one of two paths:
Dry hair is probably the number one issue for naturals. The reason is pretty simple: sebum, the oil naturally produced by all scalps, has trouble sliding down the contours of kinks, coils and curls.
Wash your hair at least every 7 to 10 days and moisturise daily.
Washing is beneficial for hair because it:
If water is so essential to hair why shouldn't you wash daily?
It's simple, because:
What if you want to wash your hair more often than weekly?
I suggest you co-wash between the main, weekly wash and deep condition. A weekly wash won't strip your hair as much as a daily one would but of course you'll still get the problem of tangles and knots.
Tangling is a huge problem for some and not so much for others. Detangle and section your hair before you wash it to manage the tangle and knot situation.
How can you keep hair hydrated between washes?
By spritzing it with a water bottle and re-moisturising it.
If you don't wash your hair at least every 7 to 10 days you will find that it gets very dry and brittle even with the spritzing. Spritzing is not a substitute for the weekly wash but a complement to it.
Moisture promotes growth, assists with length retention, and acts as a damage protectant so keep your hair well moisturised.
Unless you have an in-house hair specialist the only way you can grow and maintain beautiful hair is to do-it-yourself. This doesn't mean not visiting hair salons but you can't go to a salon daily and what happens in between visits contributes massively to the quality of hair you have.
You need to do lots of personal research, listen to your hair constantly and adjust your regimen quickly when something isn't working for YOU!
In terms of handling hair, I err on the side of extreme caution. I’ll explain why briefly.
My hair fell out; an involuntary big chop – when I undid the braids I had at the time, roughly 80% of the relaxed hair was simply gone.
Before March 2011 I had effortlessly gorgeous hair. I couldn’t have cared less for hair communities because I relaxed my hair to my heart’s content and it continued to grow healthily.
I was sat at home debating what to do with my hair when my sister told me I could just ‘go natural’ and nurse my hair back to health. I hadn’t even considered that. I thought relaxing my hair was a bit like drinking water, you have to do it. Since then I have been an enemy of hair salons.
I now treat my hair with reverence and I don’t feel any salon I visit has the same respect for my hair. Salons do things the way they do them and they don’t want customers walking in and telling them how to essentially do their job.
I experienced a hair trauma and on the back of it, I have developed some rules:
I’m quite gutsy so when I go to a salon I do politely tell them these rules before they start and I am yet to receive a positive response. The last time I let a hairdresser do my hair she complained incessantly about how much faster she could be going if she didn’t have to follow my rules. I allowed her to comb but that was it.
Maybe it’s just London and my American sisters have access to a pool of hairdressers who are more receptive to doing things a little differently and are familiar with handling natural hair.
Looking back, yes, there were many days when I looked like an absolute idiot. For instance, when my hair was short I went out and bought a sewing machine so I could sew myself a little head cap to protect my ends (see picture). I went to work looking pretty silly on many days but I guess that’s just part of the learning curve.
I was quite useless at handling my hair when I started out but I am getting better thanks to forums and YouTube videos on black hair. Doing my own hair has forced me to learn how.
For some things, e.g. braids and corn rows I would rather go to a hairdresser but the problem is I don’t know one that will love my hair as much as I do. Is that even possible?
Ultimately, I think anyone new to natural hair should expect a fair amount of DIY. You can’t go to the hairdresser’s every day and there are things like twisting your hair before bed that you have to do when you’re natural which aren’t necessary when you have relaxed hair.
Ultimately, however, doing your own hair is something you will grow to love.
I now blog about wealth creation - so if you have any money questions meet me there, you can do all sorts of cool things like leave me a voicemail.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx