As I get started on week three of work I couldn’t wait any longer to give some tips and tricks on how to shorten your natural hair wash day routine. I’ve been getting through the hectic back to work/school time and still keeping up/ maintaining a natural hair regimen that promotes healthy hair without taking a whole lot of time.
Pre-Poo: If you are a pre-pooer as I am there are a few things you can do to cut down time in this step:
*Pre-Poo at night: When I was transitioning I used to pre-poo or deep condition at night so that when I woke up in the morning I could just jump right into my wash day (usually on a Friday or Saturday night when I wouldn’t have work the next morning obviously) routine whether it was directly into the shampoo session or the co wash session. This way I would be able to move into the styling portion faster and air dry for a longer amount of time before having to head out for the evening.
*Pre-Poo For Less Time While transitioning I also made the mistake of doing pre-poo treatments or deep conditioning treatments for way too long. If I didn’t end up putting in the pre-poo at night I would leave it in for 45 minutes- 1 hour before rinsing it out and starting the next steps of my regimen. The reality is you can pre-poo for 5-20 minutes (yes that wide of a gap) and still get a positive outcome: easier detangling process, softness, and protection from possible stripping due to use of a shampoo.
*Skip the pre-poo I hate to say it but for the past three weeks I’ve only pre-pooed once. I used to do it every single wash day but as I adjusted into my natural hair routine I realized that I used shampoo less and less and didn’t require the extra step as often. Especially if I knew I was going to do one monster of a deep conditioning session. Since I am more so a co-washer than a shampooer I’ve decided to limit the pre-poo step to about once a month, mostly as a follow up step when I remove a protective style I’ve had in for a bit of time, or when I think my hair may need an extra boost of moisture.
Shampoo/Conditioning: I am not a big shampooer like I’ve said previously but there are a few steps/ corners you can cut during this step of your regimen.
*Two In One Shampoos/Conditioners If you do use shampoo it’s definitely a good idea I strongly recommend to use a rinse out conditioner as a follow up step to return the moisture to your hair that may have been stripped during the shampooing. You can skip the dual step by purchasing the 2 for 1 shampoo/conditioner mix. I haven’t experimented with these types of wash day products but I know Tressemme and Suave both have 2 for 1’s for a decent price that can be purchased if you’d really like to skip a second step.
*Co-Wash I’m an avid co-washer and doesn’t require an extra step. While co-washing it is important to still scrub the scalp as if you are using a shampoo. Cleansing is also still possible as a co washer by either using bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda. All three of these cleansing alternatives to shampoo must be diluted before they are put onto your hair.
*Deep Conditioning This is a crucial step to every naturalistas wash day that I try my best to never ever ever skip. Unfortunately it also is usually the step in the wash day process that can take up a huge chunk of time. A few steps I’ve taken to make deep conditioning less time constricting and still valuable:
*Deep Condition At Night: Just like with pre-pooing you can start your wash day at night and put the deep conditioner in over night. This way when you wake up you would just be rinsing out the deep conditioner and moving into the styling phase of your wash day routine.
*Limit Your Deep conditioning time Instead of deep conditioning for hours as most naturalistas tend to do… at least in the beginning, limit your deep conditioning time to 20-30 minutes. Why? Because after that time the conditioner is just sitting on top of the surface of your hair at this point. The good stuff has already been soaked in and the follicle of your hair is no longer taking in any other nutrients. So spare yourself the time and don’t think you have to deep condition for 2-3 hours at a time.
*Stay Active I find that even if I can’t shorten the wash day completely time wise, while deep conditioning I try to get a task or activity done that needed to be done that day. Just because I am washing my hair doesn’t mean I can’t be productive. So deep conditioning time is a great time to throw on a shower cap, and move! This will create more body heat and help in the conditioning process! Killing two birds with one stone!
Styling: Styling ultimately should be the longest part of your wash day routine. If you know you are pressed for time you have a few options that can help:
*Flat Twists (FYI: The bigger and chunkier the twists the less time!!!) Flat twists have saved my natural hair life time and time again. Why? Well for one I air dry so even if my flat twists aren’t completely dry, I can throw a turban, scarf, wig or some clip ins over my flat twists and go about my day. *Always be careful when covering your hair in a wet or damp state… you don’t want to risk mold* With that said if your hair is truly soaking wet (which it shouldn’t be at the point of styling) you can run your blow dryer onto your flat twists for 10-15 minutes to help speed up the drying process before applying a cover up. Flat twists are generally easy to do on yourself and pretty quick as well depending on the length or thickness of your hair. I personally install 8-10 twists into my hair in about 30 minutes.
*Damp & Detangled Your had should be styled when damp and in a detangled state. Your regimen should help you reach that point by the time you are ready to style. From pre-pooing to deep conditioning I am constantly finger detangling, twisting and sectioning off the hair so that when I am ready to style it is not one big tangled mess. Do not style your hair while in a completely soaking wet state as that is a very fragile state and can end up taking more time to dry! Damp and detangled hair is easily molded into the shape and style you are going for whether it be in bantu knots, wash & go…etc.
*Don’t use more than 2-3 products/steps during styling I’ve gotten my styling time down by only focusing on three things: L.O.C. I know many naturalistas have heard of the LOC method but it truly helps to keep things simple for me. I apply my leave in of choice (usually cream based), Rub oil on the ends of my hair only, section off my hair and while twisting I had the cream which is usually a butter of some sort. Once I’m done I dabble a bit of oil on my scalp and spray the finished style with another leave in (usually in spray format) That’s it! I don’t worry about any other products or steps when it comes to styling.
In doing this I have managed to get my wash day down from a hefty 12 hours (during my initial transition) to two hours. Two hours on a Sunday morning is more approachable and manageable for me as opposed to a wash day that took hours and felt like it took up my whole weekend. That two hours includes a pre-poo, co wash, deep condition, and styling regimen/routine.
How long does your wash day take and what steps have you taken to make it more manageable?